Dr. Cartwright on the Negro Race

Scull, W.D. Dr. Cartwright on the Negro Race. DeBow’s Review:
29(6)(Dec 1860): 712-716

ART. IV.-DR. CARTWRIGHT ON THE NEGRO RACE. THE August number of “ De Bow’s Review” contains an essay on ethnology, and predicates, that God “ created, at different times, two races of intellectual creatures with immortal souls.” The treatise is the composition of Dr. S. A. Cartwright, of the city of New-Orleans, and has the commendation of the editor of the “ Review.”

The two races of which the Dr. speaks are the “ chayah nephesh,” and “ Adam ;” Gen. i. 24-26. The former of these the LXX. render “zoran psuchen ;” the Vulgate, “ animam viventem ;” the German, “ lebendige thiere ;” and the Douay Bible, “living creature ;” and constitutes, in the judgment of the writer, a “race of intellectual creatures.” In Gen. ii. 7, we read, “ and man became a living soul.” In Gen. i.,24, and Gen. ii. 7, the language in the original is the same, and implies, in the former instance, “living creature,” and in the latter, animal life only. The body of man was formed — God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul-a “ nephesh chayah ;” which, in Gen. i. 24, is rendered a “ living creature.” The second race of intellectual creatures is then predicated on the meaning of the word nephesh, in Gen. i. 24. This, thus, might readily be attained: “Let the earth bring forth living creature after his kind: cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth.”

Here, as it frequently happens in the Sacred Scriptures, the latter part of the passage is epexegetical of the former. The word “ nephesh” implies, then, creatures inferior to man, and in which their life is their blood ; and hence we read: “ For the life (nephesh) of the flesh is in the blood ;” Lev. xvii. 11. “ He shall even pour out the blood thereof, for it is the life (nephesh) of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof ;” 13, 14. The blood in which this “ nephesh,” the life of this “ living creature” (Gen. i. 24), exists, to the Hebrews, was given upon their altars, to make atonement for the life of man. Lev. xvii. 11. “Living creature,” in Gen. i. 24, means, then, living’ creature only.

The word “ nachash” (serpent, Gen. iii.) is certainly, by Dr. Cartwright, very impertinently rendered, when he tells us it means “ a negro gardener.” Perhaps the Dr. here merely tells us what he wishes to believe, and not what the Scriptures teach; and, doubtless, the moment he gives the matter a second thought, he will perceive his error, and allow the respective professions the privilege to explain things peculiar to them.

The LXX. render “ nachash” ophis, that is, serpent. The translation in question was made 300 years B. C. After this, 360 years, St. Paul (2 Cor. xi. 3) informs us that it was a serpent which deceived Eve. “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent (ophis) beguiled Eve.” And finally, in Rev. xii. 9, xx. 3, the serpent (ophis) is called the “ devil, and Satan ;” and, in the Vulgate (A. D. 390), St. Jerome translates “ nachash” (G-en. iii. 1) serpens. Now, as the historical meaning of a word must, necessarily, be its true meaning, the translators of St. James’ version of the Scriptures, committed no error when they rendered “nachash” serpent.

“And a verb, formed from the name [‘ nachash’ serpent], which signifies to be or to become black.” Our author here might have thought of Cham, or Ham, which means hot, warm; but never does the verb “nachash” mean “ to become black.”

As, Mr. Editor, I may possibly occupy too much of your space with this subject, I shall merely yet state the fallacies into which Dr. Cartwright has fallen, in his essay on the “unity of the human race.” “ If Dr. Adam Clark had lived in America instead of England, he would have rendered ‘nachash’ (serpent) negro gardener, and not orang-outang.” “ The negro gardener, who was in Eden before our progenitor beguiled Eve !” “The Bible tells certain facts about negroes, which planters and overseers know, and of which the most learned divines are ignorant !” “ A star in the east (C. Blanchard Thompson, a Hebrew scholar of the first class) has lately appeared, throwing much light on the first chapter of Genesis, by making plain to all observers a lot of inferior races-pure terrigenae, including giants, created before Adam-and yet Thompson, with all his learning, did not know as much about the stupid negro as the overseers in Louisiana and Mississippi know l” “ The negroes, who are serpent worshippers, make the best slaves, and Adam, and the people of the United States, get their servants of the ‘ nephesh chayah’ (living creatures, Gen. i. 24, ii. 19), or snake worshippers.” All that Dr. Cartwright predicates of the negro as a serpent worshipper, may be affirmed of the Babylonians, the Egyptians, and the people of Epidamus. “ Cain went to the land of Nod, and took to him a wife of the inferior races.” “Nod” is unrendered, and means wandering, banishment, flight.

“ Mr. Jefferson used the term ‘ men,’ in the Declaration of Independence, in its original Hebrew sense ;” and yet, Mr. Jefferson, when he did it, never thought of Hebrew. “ For fifteen hundred years, the Adamic race had appropriated the term ‘man ;’ and, in this period, when’ the term ‘ man,’ in our English translation, is mentioned in Hebrew, it is Adam.” In Hebrew, ish occurs frequently, and is rendered man; vide Lev.. xxi. 9 ; Judges, viii. 22, et ubique. “ The inferior race, the ‘ hybrids,’ the ‘nephesh chayah,’ were saved in the ark under the designation of living creatures;” and yet, in Gen. vii., where is contained a list of ever thing that was taken into the ark, this inferior race, this living creature, this negro, is not mentioned!

The negro is a descendant of Ham, and migrated to Egypt, and hence, that country is called, in the Scriptures, the land of Ham. Many of the Canaanites, the offspring of Ham, to avoid Joshua, lied to Numidia. The curse pronounced, by Noah, on Ham, took effect in Canaan, and made his children abject slaves, Gen. ix. 25; and, as the Africans are such, their Canaanitish origin is no longer problematic. If, in this matter, we be correct, then Providence uses the slaveholder as Israel before him, and as an instrument of punishment. But as slavery, in any of its aspects, is irrelevant to the unity of the human race, we shall here drop it. Of all species and varieties of men slaves have been made; and, hence, there can be no necessary connection between servitude and the unity of man.

But does the Bible teach that God did, at different times, create two genera of intellectual creatures, and with immortal soul ? If it does, the Bible contradicts itself. This it could not do, and yet be the word of God. Agreeably to the Scriptures, the unity and redemption of the human family are inseparably connected. Gen. i. 28, and Acts, xvii. 26, teach the unity of the human race. In the former instance, God blessed Adam and Eve, and there were no other human creatures to bless. In Acts, xvii. 26, ea: henos harmotos means the same as sperma, seed. In ‘the Vulgate, in this passage, blood is omitted, and instead of it man may be supplied. God has made them of one blood, of one seed, or of one man, all nations, every nation of men.

The redemption of man and the unity of the human race, the Scriptures connect indissolubly. “ By one man sin entered into the world” (Rom. v. 12) ; and as in him all die (1 Cor. xv. 22), so, in like manner, we shall reign in life by one Jesus Christ (Rom. v. 17), and in him be made alive (1 Cor. xv: 22).

Bruno, who, in an investigation of the most ancient sayings concerning the origin of the human family, attempted to prove (from Gen. i. 26, and v. 1, 2) that God originally formed several persons of each sex, admitted that, in the 2d and 3d chapters, no such evidence could be found without doing violence to language; and yet the passages in the 1st and 5th chapters agree with those in the 2d and 3d, if they are not wrested from their natural meaning.

Cui bono will it do to attack the Scriptures as Dr. Cartwright and others of the same school do ? Should they succeed in destroying public confidence in them, what equivalent for them do they offer us ? Do they promise anything?

It is idle for a man to say that he does not attack the Scriptures, when he controverts their historical, their natural, their received meaning.* It is not contended that there are no intricacies, or apparent discrepancies, in them. Such exist; men have made them. But yet, in the very face of everything of the kind, Scripture truth stands forth as God’s truth. It does not contradict nature; it adapts itself to the moral being of man, as though both had one and the same author. It tells us our very thoughts, and points us to an hereafter, as a home which shall moor safely the perturbed spirit, and give quiet to the weary and heavy-laden.

Seemingly the apparent friends of God’s word may bring scandal upon it, and thus, as it were, justify opposition to it. Between truth and the abuse of it, discrimination should be made. The merits of a thing should commend it. What harm can it do to believe the Decalogue and practise it ? Whom can it hurt to imitate the example of Him who spake as never man spake? The legitimate effect of the Scriptures bespeaks for them a consideration, which the .intelligent and philanthropic cannot reasonably and honorably withhold. Their hold on mankind will not readily be weakened, because thus they bind man to man, and man to his God.

* We take issue with the writer here, and do not understand Dr. Cartwright to intend any assault upon the Sacred Scriptures.-ed.

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