Babylon, the Bible and the Australian Aborigines
in Chosen peoples
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Until challenged by evolution, Christians believed on excellent biblical authority that the ‘nations of men’ were God’s creation and that there were no fundamental divisions between them. From this it followed that all the extraordinary cultural diversity exhibited by the peoples of the world as revealed by European explorers disguised an essential unity; despite appearances to the contrary, they were ‘one blood’. This chapter considers the efforts made by missionary linguists to bolster biblical narratives by demonstrating that the languages of the world could be traced to the descendants of the three sons of Noah (Genesis 10). In particular, it examines the work of the Scottish-born schoolmaster Dr John Fraser (1834–1904), who sought to prove the Hamitic origins of the Australian Aborigines and their affinity to the Dravidian peoples of southern India. Fraser’s views were published as part of his 1892 edition of the works of the missionary linguist Lancelot Threlkeld (1788–1859), though modern commentators have found his biblical genealogy for the Australian Aborigines to be distracting, if not bizarre. This chapter demonstrates that Fraser’s worldview fits him firmly within a well-defined intellectual tradition that used language to demonstrate the Judaeo-Christian foundations of the whole world.

Chosen peoples

The Bible, race and empire in the long nineteenth century

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