Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever more. Amen.
Therefore be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. The Scripture foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU."So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham the believer.
Adam, Jews, Israel and the White Race: Identity's Mistake
by Viola Larson
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16)
Identity adherents, those who believe ancient Israel is the Anglo-Saxon, Germanic and Scandinavian peoples, posit some confusing definitions of biblical words. According to Identity teachers Adam was the beginning of the white race, the Jews of today are not ancient Israel and the white races of today are ancient Israel. Additionally, they believe that the word Jew in the Bible generally denotes simply a resident of the area even if the person happens to be Greek or some other race. Furthermore, they believe the Jews of today are the Edomites of biblical times. (Some Identity teachers also teach that the Jews of today are descendents of a sexual union between Eve and Satan.) All Identity teachers believe that the Jewish people of today are the ultimate enemies of Christians and all other peoples.
This is a confusing way of examining scripture as well as a methodology that tends to induce the reader to look away from the importance of redemption and focus more on racial issues. For this reason it is important to critique their teachings from a redemptive stance. Therefore I will look at and answer their arguments but direct my critique back to the redemptive purposes of God.
Many Identity teachers focus on the first two chapters of Genesis, insisting that the name Adam is meant to refer only to the white race. They often refer the student to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of The Bible, pointing out that the name means “to show blood (in the face), i.e. flush or turn rosy.” They believe that this means the person was white since they believe that only white people can blush. There are several problems with this interpretation. The whole quote from Strong's says, “to show blood (in the face), i.e. flush or turn rosy: -- be (dyed, made) red (ruddy).” 1 One might suppose that Adam was red not white, but that is not a proper way of interpreting Scripture. We really don't know what color Adam and Eve were and that is of course not the point of the biblical narrative.
D.A. Carson in his book Exegetical Fallacies explains “The Root Fallacy” in his chapter, “Word-Study Fallacies.” He writes, “One of the most enduring of errors, the root fallacy presupposes that every word actually has a meaning bound up with its shape or its components.”2 Dr. Gunther Juncker, New Testament Professor, addressing this fallacy in Identity teaching writes:
That the Hebrew word Adam may have had something to do with redness, (and this is debated) is irrelevant to the Bible which uses it solely to refer to Adam, the first man, or to mankind. That is, the older meaning of redness, if it existed, existed prior to Moses and his writing of Genesis and was not known to him or to the ancient Jewish Nation for whom he (and God through him) wrote. This is no different from the fact that modern people today have no idea that nice derives from nescius or pioneer from peon. It is not profound to bring this up and it only confuses interpretation to do so.
Redness and skin color have nothing to do with biblical references to Adam and the Bible, in fact, makes nothing of this supposedly vital fact. To focus on this issue is to miss precisely everything that the Bible actually does say about Adam, the Father of all nations (and races) according to no less an authority than St. Paul in Acts 17:26.3
Carson also points out in the chapter, “Presuppositional and Historical Fallacies,” the fallacy called “uncontrolled historical reconstruction.” That is, “The fallacy is in thinking that speculative reconstruction of first-century Jewish and Christian history should be given much weight in the exegesis of the New Testament documents.” This is because there is “almost no access to the history of the early church during its first five or six decades apart from the New Testament documents.”4 I will modify this fallacy, (that is, use it for the Old Testament), to show another error in the Identity teacher's use of Adam's name in Scripture. I believe the same could be said for such speculative interpretations of the book of Genesis. The documents themselves must be given the weight of evidence not extra-biblical texts. It is only in the Genesis account that we have any true knowledge about God's creation of humanity. There is no room for speculative thinking which rearranges the text; that is, necessitating a different account, in a different part of the text, of the creation of other races. The Genesis' text explains that humanity's creation was special and that the first humans were created in the image of God. The importance of the story is that God created a good creation and that humanity fell because of disobedience. Genesis does not tell of other or lesser human beings not created in the image of God. It does not tell of other creatures who fell. The story includes all of humanity, not one race or group, and it sets the stage for the wonderful promise of the Savior who would come for all of humanity.
The proper understanding of this requires the reader to turn to the New Testament. Paul, writing to the Roman church, addresses the fall of all humanity in the sin of Adam and the gift of grace to all through Jesus Christ. He writes:
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin and so death spread to all men, because all sinned-for until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. . . . So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. (Romans 5:12-15, 18)
The words man and men in these verses come from the Greek word anthropos meaning man and anthropinos meaning human. “The Heb. Words corresponding to anthropos are adam, ish or enosh.”5 The New Dictionary of New Testament Theology vol.2 explains the use of these words in the Old Testament:
adam is used to designate his nature, as contrasted with God in 1 Sam. 15:29, and with animals in Gen.1: 26. . . . In both accounts of creation (Gen.1:1ff.; 2:4b ff.) the creation of man is the high-point. In Gen. 1 he is the crowning culmination; in Gen. 2 he is the mid-point of the creation. His humanity resides in the life he has been given (2:7b) in his correspondence to God (1:27a). He is deemed worthy to be spoken to by God and given a task (2:16f.; 1:28). Through disobedience he falls victim to death. Adam, a word connected with damah, earth, now no longer simply alludes to his creatureliness (2:7) but also to his transitoriness (3:19).6
It must be seen from this semblance between the Greek and Hebrew words that both God's relationship to humanity and His gift of salvation must include the whole human race. Humanity, all of the races, is to hear God's Word, is given a task, has fallen and is in need of redemption. All are sentenced to death because of Adam's sin and all may be equally blessed and lifted up by the gift of God's redemption in Christ Jesus.
The Jews of Yesterday, The Jews of Today
The Identity teachers insist that the Jews of today are not connected to the Israelites of the biblical text. As stated earlier they portray them as Edomites, the descendents of Esau. They even claim they are a group of people called the Khazars. While the history of the Jews is complex and travels over many roads and centuries, it is very clear that the ancient Israelites are the Jews of today. Their language, religion and communities connect their centuries in an unbreakable line.
Both from biblical texts and from historical sources it can be shown that at the time of Jesus, Jewish communities, (those who were Israelites), existed not only in Palestine but also in most of the known world. The Jews of the Diaspora, that is the Jews living outside of Palestine, were diverse but linked by “ethnicity,” “the local community,” “links with Jerusalem and other Diaspora Communities,” “the Torah” and “Jewish practices and beliefs.”7 Scholars consider the Jews in Diaspora to have been a large population. Although they do not know the exact amount they acknowledge, “that the total Jewish population of the Diaspora considerably exceeded the Jewish population in Palestine.”8 The Dictionary of New Testament Background gives information about many of those communities including the acknowledgement that, “Literary and inscriptional sources indicate that some Jewish communities in the Diaspora continued to flourish until the end of antiquity.”9
The Jews of second century A.D., who existed without a central location, built into their Diaspora communities a means of connectedness that prevented them from being absorbed totally into the cultures where they existed. They held the Hebrew language and the liturgy of their worship in tact. Max Dimont, author of Jews, God and History, explains:
To prevent the Hebrew language from becoming fragmentized into hundreds of dialects, Jewish scholars set about writing the first Hebrew dictionary and grammars. Though modern Hebrew has grown in the number of words, anyone able to speak Hebrew today can read the Hebrew of the ancient Israelites, the Hebrew of the Jews in Islamic civilization, or the Hebrew of the Jews in the Middle Ages, without special guide books.10
The Jewish people and their culture, which connects with ancient Israel, are found in many cultures in many different ages culminating in contemporary Jewish communities and peoples including the state of Israel. By 1960 Israel had a population of two million people, “Jews from Yemen and Germany, Morocco and Russia, Turkey and Poland.”11
These many diverse peoples, who of course, include converts from many other races and people groups, are generally the physical children of Abraham through his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob; they are not Edomites. And they are not Khazars. I will now look at these two groups, the Edomites and the Khazars, to see why they have been used by Identity to supplant the Jewish people.
In 740 AD a group of people who were Tatars converted to the Jewish religion. This was the kingdom of Khazar, “on the western shore of the Caspian Sea between the Volga and Don rivers.” This kingdom was aggressive and existed until 969, when the Khazars were conquered by Russia. Henceforth, the people became Russian Orthodox under Vladimir. 12 These people who were Jews by conversion, as many people are, are neither the Israelite descendents nor are they the Jews of today as many Identity teachers insist. They are simply a group of people who were converted to Judaism in the early Middle Ages and then converted to Orthodox Christianity.
The nation of Edom was conquered by many nations over the centuries until the time of the Maccabees. “Judas Maccabaeus later subdued them (1 Macc. V. 65), and John Hyrcanus compelled them to be circumcised and incorporated into the Jewish people. The Herods were of general Edomite stock.”13 However, from this it cannot be inferred that all Jewish people are Edomites. That would totally eliminate all other Jews, both Palestinian Jews and the Jews of the Diaspora. (And remember the Jews of Diaspora were greater in number than the Jews in Palestine.) Both the Edomites and the Khazars are simply small groups that have in one way or another, one by force the other by choice, become Jews. They have not become the only Jews. The Identity teachers have attempted to use two of the anomalies of history as complete history and it cannot be done.
In contrast, Paul reminds his Roman readers that although a great many of the Jewish people have rejected Jesus Christ, still they are “beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” (11:28b, 29.) Paul's message to the Gentile Christians concerning the Jews, the biblical Israelites, is:
For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery-so that you will not be wise in your own estimation-that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, `The deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.' `This is My Covenant with them, when I take away their sins.' (Romans 11:25-27)
It is the Church, made up of both Jew and Gentile who is now seen as spiritual Israel. Because of Jesus Christ the Church completes the promises made to Israel. Paul in his letter to the Galatians writes, "And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise." (3:29) (Nevertheless, physical Israel is still beloved because of her calling and gifts.) The Identity teachers' tirade against the Jewish people was spawned in Hell. Those who attack physical Israel, those who are anti-Semites, are truly attacking Jesus Christ who came from the Jewish people, who in His humanity was Jewish. Satan has encouraged this hatred. The most horrendous example, Hitler, aimed first at the Jew but he also intended to destroy the Church, and was well on his way when the Allies defeated him. If a person or peoples begin by hating the Jew they will end by hating the Christian because that hatred is really aimed at Jesus Christ.
1 James Strong, The Exhaustive Concordance of The Bible, (Nashville: Abingdon 1973), see #199 & #120 in Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary.
2 D. A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies, second edition (Grand Rapids: Baker Books 1996), 28.
3 Gunther Juncker, taken from an E-mail Tuesday, October 23, 2001. (On file), Dr. Juncker's examples are taken from, Exegetical Fallacies.
4 Carson, Exegetical Fallacies, 131,32.
5 I am not a student of Greek or Hebrew; however, both The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology Vol.2 and The NASB Interlinear Greek-English New Testament are helpful.
6 The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol 2:G-Pre, Colin Brown, General Editor, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, Regency Reference Library 1986.)564.
7 For a detailed description of these links see, P.R. Trebilco, “Diaspora Judaism,” Dictionary of New Testament Background: A Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship, Editors, Craig A. Evans & Stanley E. Porter, (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press 2000), 291-93.
8 Ibid., 285.
9 Ibid., 295.
10 Max I. Dimont, Jews, God and History, (New York: Signet Books 1962) , 121.
11 Ibid., 410.
12 Ibid., 198,9.
13 J.A. Thompson, “Edom, Edomites,” The New Bible Dictionary, Editors, J.D. Douglas, F.F. Bruce, J.I. Packer and others, (Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press 1963), 335.