Martin Bernal’s Black Athena initiated or revived theories on the so called afroasiatic roots of the Greek culture. The problem is not a book or an author, but peoples who try desperately using such theories to give themselves a sense of dignity.
These are peoples lacking (or thinking that they lack) a valuable culture – Africans, some Slavs, etc. I have made some comments on that, thinking about the case of fyrom, a slavic country that tries to elevate self-esteem by falsifying history.
Even if the whole world was willing to accept your distortion of history, you yourself would still have to live in a deception, out of which nothing great can happen, especially when you don’t love the tradition that you claim as your own!
Now I read in a Christian magazine (do they deserve a link?) an article, where the author is suddenly surprised by a brilliant thought, that the Christian roots are African, since Athanasius, Augustine and others are not Europeans but Africans! My first reaction was to just think “another fool in the neighborhood”, and skip the page. However, there is a question that needs to be answered.
In the case of Africans or the Slavs of fyrom one can see the causes of foolishness – but what is the reason of a western Christian author to identify Athanasius and Augustine as Africans? In the first place simple as that: Athanasius was bishop of Alexandria, Augustine was bishop of Hippo. Alexandria and Hippo are in Africa, therefore Athanasius and Augustine are Africans, therefore Christianity has African roots!
Terms like Africa, Europe, etc denote geographical places and cultures / languages / civilizations / histories. Christianity is not a geographical place but a culture, a religion, a faith. If we are to claim that Christianity is African, we must prove that it is rooted in a culture that is properly and particularly African. We can not assign the roots of Christianity to a geographical reality as such, because by themselves stones, trees, waters and dust are not able to have or create a culture. If this were not true, if Christianity can be considered African due to the geographical area of Africa, then Africa would be Christian today, but it is not.
The roots of Christianity are to be traced in cultural, not in geographical realities as geographical. What is the African culture that influenced the Greek speaking Athanasius and the Latin speaking Augustine? What African author, what African books, what African questioning can be identified in their thoughts? None. They were just bishops in Christian communities located in Africa – inside a cultural environment having the marks of the Hellenistic era, that is in a Greek-Roman environment.
Certain people may compare what cannot be compared or assign to some effects causes that belong to different frames of causality, out of foolishness, out of a desperate effort for self-esteem, if they come from traditions that they themselves consider as inferior, or out of a misunderstood friendliness, if they think that this way they help people of inferior cultures to feel better. Can you really help anyone with lies and hypocrisy?
Huntington predicted culture wars, but a greater problem, in my opinion, is wars without any meaning at all, wars of vain pride and empty minds, where people with no love for Homer claim to be descendants of Alexander, where other people don’t care about their Christian faith but for the greatness of their black color, etc…