[b-greek] ancient "race"

From: Bart Ehrman (behrman@email.unc.edu)
Date: Wed Sep 06 2000 - 07:16:20 EDT

   Many thanks to everyone helping me out on how to deal with the possible
racist overtones of the description of the fifth mountain in the Shepherd
Vis. IX. Let me say again -- *this* I'm fairly sure of -- that the issue
is not whether the text itself is racist. In the modern sense, it *can't*
be, since the very notion of race that we have today is a
post-enlightenment anthropological category (it seems like such a natural
category to us -- as do most of our built in assumptions -- because, well,
that's how ideology works), developed in Western European intellectual
circles in the 18th and esp 19th centuries. The problem is precisely
this, that the words used by Hermas would not have been thought of in
racial (let along racist) terms by him or any of his readers, but a
literal translation of them ends up sounding completely racist to us.

   Well, some of the suggestions were very useful; many thanks again.

-- Bart D. Ehrman
   University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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