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“» G. Stocking, Victorian anthropology (1987: New York pbk, 1991), pp. 17, 44“5, 48“52,
69, 75.
“¦ Ibid., pp. 49, 64, 67; J. C. Greene, The death of Adam: evolution and its impact on Western
thought (1959: New York, 1961), p. 222. See e.g. L. Poliakov, Le mythe aryen (1971: new
edn, Brussels, 1987), p. 199, for the English medic John Atkins (1685“1757).
“  David Hume, ˜Of national characters™, in Hume, Essays moral, political and literary (ed.
E. F. Miller, Indianapolis, 1987), p. 208 n.; John Pinkerton, ˜An essay on the origin of
Scotish poetry™, in Pinkerton (ed.), Ancient Scotish poems (2 vols., London, 1786), I, pp.
xxiv“xxvi; Pinkerton, A dissertation on the origin and progress of the Scythians or Goths
(1787), included in Pinkerton, An enquiry into the history of Scotland (1789: 2 vols.,
Edinburgh, 1814).
“À D. B. Davis, The problem of slavery in western culture (Ithaca, 1966), pp. 460“4; Marshall
and Williams, Great map of mankind, pp. 248“9.
Ethnic theology and British identities 57

us, that there were several distinct species of men, from the Creation to
the Flood™, and that Adamic monogenesis was ˜directly contrary™ to the
sense of the Old Testament. If God had created only one pair of humans,
there were, for instance, major inconsistencies in the story of Cain and
Abel. When Cain wandered afraid after the murder of Abel, which people
did he fear and whence came Cain™s wife? According to King, Genesis
1:27 revealed how God had created the ˜genus™ man, including not only
Adam, ˜the progenitor of the class or species of men, endowed with the
greatest and most useful abilities™, but also a variety of inferior races,
whose real anatomical diVerences could not be explained away in envi-
ronmentalist terms. Cain, King concluded, had ˜debased his descent
from Adam™ by marrying into ˜an inferior caste, or species of mankind™.
But had the Flood not destroyed every living creature, barring those in the
Ark? King argued that the Flood had been universal in its extent, but had
not resulted in total destruction. Had there, for example, been any
kangaroos on the Ark? Whereas the Adamic Noachids and the animals
under their protection had survived by God™s special providence, some
denizens of far-Xung continents had survived by ˜fortunate accidents™.
After the Flood, the ˜sacred race™ of Noah had disseminated the ˜divine™
Adamic knowledge of the arts, sciences and skills of cultivation in the
regions of the Old World where they settled, but these had only recently
been transmitted to the inferior non-Adamic races discovered in the
˜savage, uncultivated countries™ of America and New Holland.“Ã
Where orthodox theologians emphasised the relationships between the
kindred peoples found in Genesis 10 (though not forgetting the curse
which had befallen the stock of Ham), polygenist heretics stressed only
diVerence. It is salutary to contrast King™s heretical racialism with the
work of the orthodox mythographer George Stanley Faber (1773“1854).
Revising the ideas of Bryant, to whom he dedicated his prestigious
Bampton lectures, published as Horae Mosaicae, Faber argued that all the
world™s pagan religions “ classical, Celtic, Gothic, Persian, Chinese,
Hindu, Aztec and Incan “ were built upon ˜mutilated traditions of the
Deluge™. Polytheistic idolatry originated in ˜helio-arkite superstition™, an
excessive reverence for Noachic ancestors combining with the worship of
celestial bodies. The sun was a symbol of Noah, while the moon represen-
ted the Ark. Remembrances of the ˜Arkite ogdoad™ surfaced throughout
the world, for instance, in the eight primeval gods of Egypt and in the
Phoenician tale of the ˜just man™ Sydyk and the seven Cabiri. Moreover,

“Ã Edward King, Morsels of criticism: tending to illustrate some few passages in the Holy Scrip-
tures, upon philosophical principles and an enlarged view of things (2nd edn, 3 vols., London,
1800), III, ˜A dissertation concerning the creation of man™, pp. 70“1, 74, 76“8, 85“6,
89“91, 93, 101, 103, 109, 113“14, 120, 167“9.
58 Theological contexts

Faber also detected fainter traces within the pagan world of other el-
ements of the patriarchal religion, including traditions of a Paradise, a
Fall, a serpent and a mediatorial Messiah. The ethnological implications
of this underlying uniformity were made explicit:

The singular phenomenon of a general agreement among a vast variety of nations,
widely separated from each other, and eVectually prevented by mutual distance
from having had any recent intercourse, can only be accounted for upon the
supposition, that they all sprang originally from one common ancestor.“•

Ethnic theology involved the investigation of a deeper unity concealed
beneath the world™s apparent diversity.
Polygenesis would remain marginal, even as the science of race devel-
oped. The work of James Cowles Prichard (1786“1848), which
dominated British ethnology in the Wrst half of the nineteenth century,
was conceived on the new principles of racial and philological analysis.
Yet Prichard remained keen to defend the contours of Biblical orthodoxy
against the advocates of polygenesis. At the outset of his career he
eschewed environmentalist arguments, but found that, while his thesis of
a (non-evolutionary) developmental process from black to white conser-
ved the Biblical notion of common human origins, the implicit suggestion
of a black Adam, while not strictly heretical, proved as unpalatable as
polygenesis. Over time, Prichard moved on to the safer well-trodden
ground of environmentalist monogenesis.“’ The continuation, well into
the nineteenth century, of the battle to prove the unity of mankind is a
testament to the tenacity of sacred history in the sphere of ethnology.
Even as ethnic theology was eclipsed by a range of new sciences, theology
remained intimately linked to developments in the study of ethnicity.
Indeed one of the functions of the new racialist discourse which emerged
in the middle of the nineteenth century was to provide a plausible starting
point and aboriginal identity for a deracinated intelligentsia. No longer
did the Bible and the system of universal history which it purveyed suYce
as a set of bearings by which educated Englishmen might locate them-
selves in some overarching plan.

“• George Stanley Faber, Horae Mosaicae: or a dissertation on the credibility and theology of the
Pentateuch (Bampton lectures, 1801: 2nd edn, 2 vols., London, 1818), I, pp. 9“10,
41“146; Faber, A dissertation on the mysteries of the Cabiri (2 vols., Oxford, 1803), I, pp. vii,
x, 9“10, 15“19, for the origins of ˜helio-arkite™ worship; Feldman and Richardson, Rise of
modern mythology, pp. 397“9.
“’ Stocking, Victorian anthropology, pp. 48“53, 58; Stocking, ˜From chronology to ethnol-
ogy: James Cowles Prichard and British anthropology 1800“1850™, in J. C. Prichard,
Researches into the physical history of man (1813: ed. Stocking, Chicago and London,
1973); Greene, Death of Adam, pp. 237“43; J. W. Burrow, ˜The uses of philology in
Victorian England™, in R. Robson (ed.), Ideas and institutions of Victorian Britain (London,
1967), pp. 189“90; H. F. Augstein, ˜Introduction™, in Augstein (ed.), Race: the origins of
an idea, 1760“1850 (Bristol, 1996), p. xxiv.
Ethnic theology and British identities 59

British beginnings
It is clear that the discourse of ethnic theology occupied an important
place in the concerns of the clerical intelligentsias of early modern Britain.
However, given that the primary concern of theologians was the defence
of Christian orthodoxy, did ethnic theology in its heyday have any sub-
stantial impact upon the ways in which patriotic antiquarians constructed
national identities? As elsewhere in Europe, sacred history was consider-
ed a more reliable indicator of ethnic provenance than national origin
myths inherited from the middle ages. The Reformation may have ex-
acerbated this process for British scholars. Scholars subjected secular
myths and sacred history to diVerent degrees of sceptical rigour. The
unreliable features of medieval origin myths, such as the legend of the
Trojan origins of the Britons concocted by GeoVrey of Monmouth, were
attributed to monkcraft; but Scripture was unassailable. Peter Heylin, the
antiquarian of the middle of the seventeenth century, argued that there
was ˜express text™ in Scripture for the ˜division of the world by the sons of
Noah™. On the other hand, Heylin had no time for the Galfridian myth;
the legend of GeoVrey of Monmouth dated from an era ˜when almost all
nations pretended to be of Trojan race™.““ The legends propagated by
Annius of Viterbo which interwove Noachic history with the origins of
nations presented more of a problem. The story retailed in Annius
concerning the great Celtic king Samothes had inXuenced sixteenth-
century English antiquarians, including John Bale and John Caius.““
However, StillingXeet was prepared to disentangle legend from Scripture,
denouncing the ethnic lineages found in Annius as ˜aery phantasms,
covered over with the cowl of the monk of Viterbo™. StillingXeet was
aware of the ˜darkness and obscurity™ which had covered northern Euro-
pean history in the long centuries before the arrival of the Romans whose
literacy enabled history to be transmitted reliably from one generation to
the next. Between Scripture and authentic civil history was a chasm which
tended to be Wlled by legends. On these grounds StillingXeet was quite
prepared to jettison the whole myth of British origins from ˜Gomer to
Brute™ as ˜fabulous™.“” The leading Biblical commentator Matthew Poole
(1624“79) demonstrated how a responsible scholar should approach the
genealogies of nations found in Genesis. For a start, Genesis showed ˜the
““ Peter Heylin, Cosmographie (London, 1652), ˜General introduction™, p. 7; bk 1, p. 257.
““ T. D. Kendrick, British antiquity (London, 1950), pp. 70“2. For the inXuence of the
Samothes legend in Welsh antiquarianism, see R. G. GruVydd, ˜The Renaissance and
Welsh literature™, in G. Williams and R. O. Jones (eds.), The Celts and the Renaissance
(CardiV, 1990), p. 19. For seventeenth-century English versions of the Pseudo-Berosus,
see Allen, Legend of Noah, p. 115.
“” StillingXeet, Origines sacrae, pp. 96, 99; Prideaux, Old and New Testament connected, I,
p. 445. Nevertheless, for a partial defence of Annius, see Robert Clayton, A vindication of
the histories of the Old and New Testaments (Dublin, 1752), pp. 185“6.
60 Theological contexts

true original of the several nations, about which all other authors write
idly, fabulously or falsely™. Yet, it was also important for the sacred
genealogist to
avoid both carelessness . . . and excessive curiosity about every particular person
here named, and the people sprung from him, which is neither necessary, nor
proWtable, nor indeed possible now to Wnd out, by reason of the great changes of
names through length of time, loss of ancient records, diVerences of languages,
extinction of families, conquest and destruction of nations, and other causes.
Despite his reticence on much of the detail, Poole remained conWdent
about the tripartite division of the world among the sons of Noah, and
even some of the particular lineages found in Europe.“» Others shared this
curious combination of scepticism and conWdence. The credulous Henry
Rowlands (1655“1723), an Anglesey vicar who championed his island as
the home of the Druid heirs of the pre-Noachic religion of the patriarchs,
pretended to a critical outlook on man-made sources: ˜As to the origin of
nations . . . it is very presumptive that the ancientest memoirs of things,
the sacred excepted, were at Wrst but what was built on this foundation,
viz. on inferences and conjectures; yet when recorded and transmitted to
posterity, their credit advanced as they grew in age.™ Where Scripture was
unclear or ran out, then the orthodox were perfectly free to voice their
scepticism about the precise course of a nation™s family tree. Yet, as
Rowlands discovered, Scripture went a long way. In the ˜remote perplexi-
ties and deepest obscurities™ of antiquity, he found ˜glimmerings of light™:
˜the divine testimony assures us, that our Wrst stock of people travelled
hither from the coast of Armenia and Babylon, and that they were of the
race of Japhet, who planted the western isles, and consequently the isles of
Britain and Ireland™.“¦
Who dared take a sceptical axe to the Noachic trunk of the English
family tree? The attempts by some English antiquarians to seek Wrmer
“» Matthew Poole, Annotations upon the Holy Bible, vol. I (London, 1688 edn), introductory
commentary to Genesis 10 and remarks on Genesis 10, vv. 2“3. See B. Shapiro,
Probability and certainty in seventeenth-century England (Princeton, 1983), pp. 157“9.
Ductor historicus, p. 17, argued that ˜in point of chronology, we must depend upon the
accounts we Wnd in holy scripture, since we can expect nothing concerning the Wrst times
from profane historians™.
“¦ Henry Rowlands, Mona antiqua restaurata (Dublin, 1723), ˜Preface™, p. 205. See also
Levine, Dr Woodward™s shield, ch. 4, esp. pp. 64, 67; Clayton, Journal from Grand Cairo,
p. 131: ˜The books of Moses, with regard to early antiquity, are a light that shineth in a
dark place.™ James Anderson, Royal genealogies, or the genealogical tables of emperors, kings
and princes from Adam to these times (London, 1732), esp. pp. 727, 775, acknowledged the
gloom of ancient history and questioned the precision with which antiquaries retailed the
later histories of the descendants of Noah; nevertheless Anderson continued to privilege
Mosaic history over the vanity of national origin legends. This position still had some
supporters in the late eighteenth century: see e.g. Philip Howard, The scripture history of
the earth and of mankind (London, 1797), pp. 76“8, 582“3.
Ethnic theology and British identities 61

foundations for myths of nationhood than those proVered by GeoVrey of
Monmouth did not inhibit the capacity, or quench the desire, to trace
one™s ethnic origins into the Noachic past. Hale clearly distinguished the
identity of the state from ethnic identity, and pointed out the importance
of the Mosaic history of the dispersal of peoples to a proper understand-
ing of the latter. He argued that profane histories were of no use in tracing
the natural roots of peoples, but only of the civil histories of states:
˜though they aVord us the inception of new governors or governments,
the capita regiminum, yet they give us not the capita familiarum™.“  Nations
and states tended to be artiWcial mongrel bodies, the compounds of many
diVerent lineages held together under notional founding monarchs who
were not the biological forefathers of the peoples involved. Only a re-
course to scriptural exegesis could trace the natural ethnic origins of a
people.
Attempts at ethnic classiWcation resulted in considerable confusion,
though certain rival patterns emerged. The Celts were commonly identi-
Wed with the posterity of Gomer, son of Japhet. The British Celts of Wales
were almost exclusively linked to Gomer,“À but the Gaels of Ireland and
the Scottish Highlands, while sometimes located within the Gomerian
family tree, were often associated instead with the Scythian lineage of
Magog, another of Japhet™s sons.“Ã The Germanic and Gothic peoples
tended to be traced either to Ashkenaz, son of Gomer, or to Magog.“•
Despite the Xuidity and indeterminacy in the taxonomies generated by
ethnic theology, it is possible to probe networks of ethnic aYnity which
were dramatically diVerent from the categories forged later in the nine-
teenth century by the secularising disciplines of philology and racialist
ethnology. Two paradigms existed in which the Celt was kindred to the
Teuton, rather than the ˜other™. Either the Gomerians and Ashkenazian
Germans were yoked together in one system, or in the other the Gaels and
the Magogian Goths shared the same ethnic roots. The German scholar,
Philip Cluverius (1580“1622), one of the most prominent geographers
and ethnographers of the seventeenth century, acknowledged the close
relationship within the Japhetan line of the German and Celtic peoples.“’
“  Hale, Primitive origination of mankind, p. 175.
“À E.g. Rowland Jones, The circles of Gomer (London, 1771); James Parsons, Remains of
Japhet, pp. x, 43, 48, 179. See also R. Heppenstall, ˜The children of Gomer™, Times
Literary Supplement, 17 October 1958, 600.
“Ã E.g. ˜Dissertation concerning the antiquity of the Caiel or Gaiel™, National Library of
Scotland, Adv. MS 31.6.20, f. 1; James Parsons, Remains of Japhet, pp. x, xvi, 25, 39,
43“4, 48, 50, 67“71, 100, 180; Parry, Trophies of time, p. 155; Francis Hutchinson, A
defence of the antient historians: with a particular application of it to the history of Ireland
(1733: Dublin, 1734 edn), pp. 49, 58.
“• E.g. Richard Verstegan, A restitution of decayed intelligence (1605: London, 1634), p. 9;
George Saltern, Of the antient lawes of Great Britaine (London, 1605), p. 16.
62 Theological contexts

George Saltern, an early seventeenth-century antiquary, argued that the
various nations of Britain were all derived from ˜branches of the same
stock, namely the Cimbri of Gomer, and likewise the Saxons and Danes
of Ashkenaz, and the Scots, if Iberi, of Tubal, and all of Japhet™.““ There
was less scope within the parameters aVorded by early modern ethnic
theology to generate hard and fast distinctions between Celts and Teu-
tons. Nor did ethnic theology provide unambiguous material for the
construction of a pan-Celticist identity. It is, perhaps, unsurprising that
full-blown Teutonic racialism and pan-Celticism were both ideological
children of post-Biblical nineteenth-century approaches to the study of
ethnicity.““
Scholars recognise the importance of Gothicism in the formation of
English national identity during the seventeenth and eighteenth centu-
ries, but, while Gothicist discourse was predominantly concerned with
secular matters, such as the libertarian manners and democratic institu-
tions of the Saxons, it is easy to forget that Gothicism did intersect in
certain places with the concerns of ethnic theology. Antiquarians won-
dered how the Goths Wtted in to the dispersal of peoples, debated the
status enjoyed by the Germanic language at the Tower of Babel and
applied euhemeristic techniques to the Teutonic pantheon as a way of
bringing German antiquity into alignment with the history of Noah™s
oVspring. Ethnic theology featured prominently in the seminal work of

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