“After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language . . . .” (Revelation 7:9). The visions in the book of Revelation give a glimpse of the people of God at the consummation of history—a multiethnic congregation gathered together in worship around God’s throne. Its racial diversity is expressed in a four-fold formula that first appears in Genesis 10.
J. Daniel Hays suggests the theme of race runs throughout Scripture, constantly pointing to the global and multi-ethnic dimensions inherent in the overarching plan of God, in response to the neglect of this theme in much evangelical Biblical scholarship. As well as focusing on texts which have a general bearing on race, he demonstrates that black Africans from Cush (Ethiopia) play an important role in both Old and New Testament history. This careful, nuanced analysis provides a clear theological foundation for life in contemporary multiracial cultures and challenges churches to pursue racial unity in Christ.
“Stott writes, ‘Both the dignity and the equality of human beings are traced in Scripture to our creation’ (Stott 1999: 174–175). Racism or the presupposition that one’s own race is superior or better than another is a denial that all people have been created in the image of God. H. P. Smith (1972: viii) places this connection at the heart of his definition of racism, writing: ‘In short, racism from the Christian standpoint is a response that violates the equalitarian principle implied in the biblical doctrine of the imago Dei [the image of God].’” (Page 50)
“First, some people are still entrenched in their inherited racism. They are interested in the Bible if it reinforces their prejudiced views; otherwise they do not care what the Bible says about race. Second, many people assume that the Bible simply does not speak to the race issue, and particularly to the Black-White issue. Third, many others are simply indifferent to the problem, assuming that the status quo is acceptable and that the Bible supports their current practices.” (Page 19)
“For Anglo-European Christian readers, it is critical to come to grips with the fact that these people were not blue-eyed, blond-haired Caucasians; they did not look like White Americans or White Britons. They looked more like modern Arabs.” (Page 34)
“The curse on Canaan, therefore, should be interpreted within the Old Testament context and identified with the victory of the Israelites over the Canaanite inhabitants of the Promised Land. It is incorrect to call this the ‘curse of Ham’, or to identify it with Black Africa or Africans in any way.” (Page 56)
J. Daniel Hays is able simultaneously to make us long for the new heaven and the new earth, when men and women from every tongue and tribe and people and nation will gather around the One who sits on the throne and the Lamb, and to make us blush with shame when we recognize afresh that already the church of Jesus Christ is to be an outpost in this fallen world of that consummated kingdom. This book deserves the widest circulation and the most thoughtful reading, for it corrects a fair bit of erroneous scholarship while calling Christians to reform sinful attitudes.
—D.A. Carson, research professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Hays’ book is an important step in both compelling us to embrace Scripture’s vision of multi-ethnic people of God as well compelling us to work for practical expressions of this vision in our own churches.
—Evangelical Review of Theology
J. Daniel Hays is dean of the Pruet School of Christian Studies and professor of Old Testament at Ouachita Baptist University. He is the author of From Every People and Nation, and he has co-authored Grasping God's Word; Preaching God's Word; Journey into God’s Word; The Story of Israel: A Biblical Theology; Iraq: Babylon of the End Times?; Apocalypse; and The Dictionary of Biblical Prophecy