[b-greek] Re: racist overtones in Hermas

From: Christopher Hutson (crhutson@salisbury.net)
Date: Tue Sep 05 2000 - 10:42:56 EDT

<TITLE>Re: [b-greek] Re: racist overtones in Hermas</TITLE>
<B>Frank Hughes wrote:<BR>
<BLOCKQUOTE>Wow -- the racism in that text is strong. &nbsp;I wouldn't call it an overtone. How about just translating it as it is and then just saying it is racist? <BR>
This reminds me of the remark about Cretans in the epistle to Titus. But there it is about people from Crete and their behavior, whereas in the Hermas text the comment is about black people as an inferior race. <BR>
Maybe I should create a postgraduate seminar on &quot;Racism and Sexism in Early Christian Literature.&quot; &nbsp;Hermas, <U>Similitude</U> 9 would be a star text. &nbsp;I think I would also include the passage in Augustine preferring the Greek OT over the Hebrew Bible. <BR>
Thanks for the idea. <BR>
Frank, I agree that it would be useful to discuss this passage in a course on ancient racism, but not for the reason you give.<BR>
I think Bart's problem is that there is no racism in the text at all, but that it is easy for modern people to read modern racism into such a text. &nbsp;The symbolism of the first mountain in Similitude 9.19 is in fact NOT a &quot;comment about black people&quot; at all, any more than the second mountain (barren) represents bald people, or the fourth mountain (much vegetation) represents hairy people, or the eighth mountain (many springs) represents weepy people. &nbsp;All of the mountains symbolize INNER qualities of people, NOT physical characteristics. &nbsp;<BR>
So, Bart, I agree with Harold that a footnote might be useful here to steer readers away from racist assumptions as they read this text.<BR>
I would also propose that you translate MELANES here as &quot;black-hearted.&quot; &nbsp;That is admittedly a free rendering, but it emphasizes that the passage is truly about inner qualities, not physical characteristics.<BR>
Would that work for you?<BR>
Christopher R. Hutson<BR>
 &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Hood Theological Seminary<BR>
 &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;800 West Thomas Street<BR>
 &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Salisbury, NC &nbsp;28144<BR>


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