Almost Everybody in the Bible is White

Are any of you sharing this pic? Don’t. It’s 100 percent factually incorrect.

This popular image is entirely wrong.

White skin comes from a expression of a handful of genes making their appearance in the Middle East and Caucuses as long ago as twenty-eight thousand years from present. Fair or light skin is thus a characteristic of the people of the Fertile Crescent, and that includes the Levant and civilizations in the Tigris-Euphrates River Vally, the Indus River Valley, and even the Nile. A subgroup of white skinned people migrated westward from these places into Europe and replaced darker skin populations that had lived there for thousands of years previous. White-skinned people in Anatolia who, some ten thousand years ago, sparked the Neolithic Revolution, which formed the economic and technological foundation of civilization.

Several thousand years later, in the Levant, white people collected stories about mostly white people and produced what we know today as the Bible. Noah, Abraham, Moses, and all the rest of them were white. Noah, whose legend the ancient Jews derived from Sumerian myth, the oldest involving the hero Ziusudra whose exploits are nearly identical to those attributed to Noah, would have been, if an actual person, among the earliest white people mentioned in the written records. Of course, there is no record of these folks having ever existed outside of the Bible, but given where their adventures took place and the time frame, they would have been white.

It may interest the reader to know that the earliest hominids were very likely white. The great apes are white under their fur and we are, after all, a great ape. A great naked ape. Chimps are mostly white if you shave them. Black skin is an adaptation emerging with the progressive loss of fur in the various genera associated with our species (Australopithecus, Homo, Paranthropus). White skin reemerged later on as a dominant trait (or possibly due to mutations, as it may not necessarily be the useful recovery of atavistic traits) among West Asians, North Africans, and Europeans as an adoption to large-scale agriculture and the receding of the ice sheets opening up land to the north for habitation where there is less sunlight.

One might ask themselves whether Spaniards are white. You might be inclined to say so, but not a few people are confused about this. A few years ago I noted that, at an academic institution, a professor from Spain, who is clearly white, won the annual Woman of Color award. That her white colleagues nominated her for the award is revealing of the profound ignorance about race, geography, and history shared among progressives. Why no colleagues of color spoke up is a curious thing.

What about Greeks and Italians? For the most party, they’re white. Arabs? Yes, white, for the most part. Yet here, people treat Muslims from that part of the world as non-white (see Muslims are Not a Race. So why are Academics and Journalists Treating Them as if They Were?). Jews? The largest subpopulation of Jews, the Ashkenazi, are Germanic European. The Sephardim are Hispanic (North Africa, Portugal, and Spain), the Mizrahim (Levantines) are Arabic—all white.

These are of course nations and ethnicities, but nonetheless nations and ethnicities who majorities are historically white. That the skin tone of many of these populations is darker than a Swede’s makes no difference. Whites are no more all of one shade of color than are blacks.

Sumerians

Somebody shared the image of the woman with the sign on Twitter and judging from the upvotes, it was quite popular among the Twitter folk, especially those with Ukrainian flag emojis. I wondered aloud in the thread, if the Biblical characters aren’t white, then what are they? Somebody said “Middle Eastern.” That’s a region, I responded. Try again. Every answer I was provided revealed a profound ignorance of history, hominid evolution, and anthropological classification. (I have been thinking that it might be more useful to teach these subjects in our public schools than social and emotional learning and critical race and gender theory.) I find the notion of race problematic. I don’t believe it’s an intrinsic thing.

Following Richard Lewontin and other (see Lewontin’s “Confusion About Human Races”), I argue that what we understand as race is ancestry. Since offspring look like their parents, both parents and offspring are subject to the force of natural history, and human populations tend to mate with those who look like them and live in the same geographical area, a scheme can be devised to identify different subpopulations based on constellations of phenotypic traits. As history would have it, no scheme needed devising, as humans rather uniformly came to see the world in these terms, which, we later found out, enjoy empirical support. Nonetheless, since racial groups are primitive concepts that fray at the edges when confronted with more in-depth genetic analysis, the ideal would be to shift our language.

Human geneticists are curbing use of the term race in scientific papers

However, if people are going to make claims about race, such as that Arabs and Jews are not white, which necessarily presumes that there are people who are in fact white (and racial groups cannot define themselves since there are no elected leaders to define them nor can they demand others change their perceptions), then they should work from the prevailing framework, which divides most of the global human population into three primary racial groups: Caucasoid (white-skinned people living in Europe, North Africa, and West Asia), Mongoloid (yellow-skinned people living in East Asia), and Negroid (black-skinned people living in most of Africa).

You have heard that race is a social construction. You might have heard it for me. I have certainly said it enough times. My students are probably sick of hearing me say it. But it’s interesting that the genetic evidence is consistent with the popular understanding of racial groupings. Geographically speaking, the world breaks up into (1) most of Africa, (2) Australia; (3) East Eurasia (except for North Africa), (4) West Eurasia, and (5) North and South America (before colonization of the new world by Eurasians). Note that the genetic distances indicate evolutionary time. American Indians are the most recent human population genetically-speaking. Black Africans are the oldest.

The neighbor-joining method allows scientists to calculate when different species, or variations within a species, diverged by analyzing differences on a molecular level. This illustration maps the relationships between 18 human populations, using the method to create an evolutionary tree built on genetic data. (Credit: Alison Mackey/Discover after Jason Spatola/Wikimedia Commons)

I have in-depth writings about this in Freedom and Reason, so I am directing readers to the following blogs rather that repeat those points here: Race, Ethnicity, Religion, and the Problem of Conceptual Conflation and Inflation and Casual Conflation of Categories. But I want to emphasis the color scheme appearing in the parentheticals does not refer to the actual neutrals and the color yellow. I am fully aware that “yellow” is offensive to many of East Asian descent, just as “red” is offensive to many American Indians, and my intent is not to offend. I don’t like this scheme. Nobody is actually black, yellow, or white (or red). The color schemes is shorthand for the constellation of superficial traits. I don’t believe in race. But clearly the woman holding the sign believes in it, since she is presuming the characters of the Bible belong to one or many—none of which are white.

All of this is well-established. But scroll up and look at the woman holding the sign again. Do you think she cares about facts? She’s woke. What else would possess a person to hold such a sign? She didn’t for a second wonder whether this claim was true or false. Facts don’t matter to her. Ideology does. So confident is she of the truth of the claim that she adds an snark at bottom suggesting that you may be too dumb to get it. What do you think? A BLM rally? I’m guessing so. The intent of the sign at an anti-racist is to express white self-loathing manifest in a desire to deny even the Judeo-Christian religion to white people, as if it were their race that produced those myths—or civilization itself. The deep error of the intent is that race and culture have nothing to do with one another and it is the racist who think they do. (See Culture and Race—Not the Same Thing; Multiracialism Versus Multiculturalism; The Myth of White Culture; Smearing Amy Wax and The Fallacy of Cultural Racism.)

I want racial thinking to go away. But it appears some people care. A lot. And they’re trying to disrupt our common-sense understanding and traditional classification of most Arabs, as well as most Hispanics, etc., as white. You don’t have to be obsessed with essentialist notions of race to wonder what that’s all about. So I will follow up in the coming weeks with analysis of why the left is reracializing selected human populations.

For the record, if he were an actual person (he may have been), Jesus would almost surely have been white. Maybe not blue eyes and blonde hair (although it’s possible), but white. Most whites don’t look like Hitler’s wet dream. But there is an effort to make it appear this way.

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Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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