Re: [XTalk] Re: Ancient and modern concepts of 'race'
- At 02:14 PM 8/14/2002 -0400, RSBrenchley@... wrote:
><< Still, to studiously avoid words like âraceâ and âethnicâ inRobert,
> tragic events of the 20th century CE holocaust, is a lot like letting the
> tail wag the dog. >>
> I agree we're in danger of letting the tail of modern politics wag the
>dog of Biblical studies here if we avoid the terms, but there are also
>dangers in using them. These days our concept of 'race' is apparently
>irredeemably wrapped up in the nineteenth century myth of biological race,
>and its of course particularly influenced by skin colour. Surely nothing of
>this existed in Biblical times. Concepts of race and ehtnicity undoubtedly
>existed, however. Does anyone know of anything that's been published on
>these? It boils down to a question of how to distinguish between the modern
>and the ancient concepts, and secondarily - off-topic but of considerable
>interest to me personally - how the latter have influenced the former.
A good way to get into all this is Shaye Cohen's book, *The Beginnings of
Jewishness: Boundaries, Varieties, Uncertainties*
for which there is an online review at
http://www.bookreviews.org/Reviews/0520211413.html that makes good reading.
The critical Greek terminology was how the word *ethnos* and other *ethnoi*
were used and understood. Cohen examines this with respect to Ioudaios. The
short answer is that mostly in the ancient world, "race" was mixed up with
geography and other variables, and were rather different from modern
American notions of race.
For what its worth, as an anthropologist, it is clear to me that "races"
are rooted not in biology but in social constructs. For the American
Anthropological Association's discussion of the word, see
http://www.aaanet.org/stmts/racepp.htm , a statement that I agree fully with.