Biblical Blackness

Foundational Thoughts

“The Bible contains a substantial amount of information written by Black people, about them, and, in many cases, is addressed specifically to them.”
- Dr. Walter McCray (Black Presence in the Bible)

Definition of Terms

Biblical Blackness (Black = African)

  • Actual “Black” Skin Color
    • Cush (Genesis 10:6)
    • Simon Called Niger (Acts 13:1)
  •  Negroid Characteristics
    • Hair Type, Skeletal Structure, Cranial Shape and Size Etc..
  • Traceable African Ancestry (Black Blood)
    • Hamitic Lineage
    • This is directly in line with the “American” concept of Blackness given during

*For this study, the words Black and African will be used interchangeably. This definition is
to simply identify “otherness” or “non-whiteness” as a whole. *

Table of Nations (Genesis 10:6-20)

Ham (Africa)

  • The Father of African/Black people
  • 2nd Oldest Son of Noah
  • Ham means “hot” or “Black” in Hebrew
  • Ham and his wife bore four sons who became the fathers of the nations of Africa.
The Four Hamitic Nations

1. Cush (The Ethiopians) settled in Ethiopia south of Egypt. Early in their history, they also
migrated to an area north of the Persian Gulf (Gen. 10:8-10).

2. Mizraim (The Egyptians) is the Biblical name for Egypt. This group settled in
northeastern Africa.

3. Put (The Libyans) is often translated as Libya. This group settled in northern Africa.

4. Canaan (The Canaanites) settled above Africa east of the Mediterranean. Ham’s fourth
son, Canaan, was prophetically cursed because he gazed upon his father’s “nakedness.” The fruition of this curse would leave the descendants of Canaan homeless and subservient to the descendants of Shem, their distant relatives. (Genesis 9:25)

Biblical Blackness (OT)

1. Cush
a. Nimrod (Genesis 10:8-12) “The most politically Ambitious son of Ethiopia (Cush).”

i. King/Kingdom Builder – Laid the foundation for the Babylonia and Assyrian kingdoms.

ii. Pioneer – Viewed scripturally as the first mighty man.

b. King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 1:1-4) “The most renowned potentate in scripture.”

i. Mesopotamian Cushite – Those Cushites that resided in Mesopotamia as opposed to Cush (Ethiopia) or Arabia

ii. Ruled Babylon from 605 – 562 B.C.E.

c. The Queen of Sheba (1st Kings 10:1-13) “The most enchanting Cushite politician in all of scripture.”

i. The Ancient Jewish historian Josephus credits her rule to both Sheba/Saba. (modern-day Yemen and home to the Sabeans)

ii. Jesus references her as the “Queen of the South” in Matthew 12:42.

2. Mizraim (Egypt)
a. Egyptian Pharaohs (From Abraham to Joseph)

i. Great Power and political success.

b. Hagar (Genesis 16:1-15) The handmaiden of Sarah that bore Ishmael for Abraham

i. She became the mother of a great nation through her son.

c. Goliath (1st Samuel 17) The champion of the Philistines who challenged Saul’s armies.

i. Goliath was from the Philistinian chief city of Gath, located on the southern coast of Palestine.

3. Canaan
a. Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18-22)
i. Canaanite King of Salem (modern-day Jerusalem)
ii. Both King and Priest (A typology of Jesus Christ)

b. Uriah the Hittite (2nd Samuel 11:3)

i. Heth, the 2nd-born of Canaan, is the progenitor of these people.

ii. Husband of Bathsheba

c. Tamar (Genesis 38)

i. Marries Judah’s 1st born and half-Canaanite son Er.

ii. Eventually bears twins Perez and Zerah, from which Christ’s stepfather is a descendant (Perez). It is from this lineage that Jesus is ascribed the prophetic title, “Lion of the tribe of Judah.”


Notable Mentions

  • Prophet Zephaniah (Zephaniah 1:1) – Cush
  • Asenath Joseph’s Wife (Genesis 41:45) – Mizraim/Egypt
  • Solomon’s Egyptian Wife (1st Kings 7:8,9:16,24) – Mizraim/Egypt
  • Keturah Abraham’s 2nd Wife (Genesis 25:1-4) – Canaanite
Biblical Blackness (NT)

1. Ethiopian Eunuch (Act 8:26-40)

  1. A court Official of the African Queen or Candace [Kandake] (Queen Regent or
    Queen Mother) of the land of Kush/Ethiopia… Meroe was the capital city.
  2. This was the very first gentile convert in the entire New Testament.
  3. This conversion set the precedent for the conversion of the entire world.

2. Mark the Evangelist (Gospel of Mark)

  1. Or John Mark… One of the 70 disciples sent out in Luke 10:1
  2. The disciple that ran naked from the garden of Gethsemane when Jesus was arrested. (Mark 14:51-52)
  3. Born in Cyrene (Libya)
  4. Carried the Gospel to the Continent of Africa 1st

3. Simon of Cyrene (Mark 15:21, Luke 23:26, Matthew 27:32, Acts 13:1-3)

  1. Simon bore the Cross of Christ.
  2. Cyrene was a Greek city on the northern coast of Africa. It featured a high concentration of Jewish immigrants.
  3. Jewish dwellers in Cyrenaica were in Jerusalem at Pentecost (Acts 2:10)
  4. Christian converts from Cyrene were among those who contributed actively to the formation of the first Gentile church at Antioch. (Acts 11:20)
  5. “Evidence of Simon’s physical appearance may be present in the reference to ‘Simeon who is called Niger’ (Acts 13:1), a member of the church at Antioch who is assumed to be the same person identified by Mark.”

4. Apollos (Acts 18:24-28, 1st Corinthians 1:12, Titus 3:13)

  1. Native of Alexandria, Egypt
  2. Previous disciple of John the Baptist.
  3. Itinerant Preacher/Evangelist

5. Jesus – ?!? (Matthew 1:1-16, Luke 3:23-38)

  1. In the written lineage of Christ, 3 of 4 women listed are of Hamitic lineage.
    Tamar (Canaanite), Rahab (Canaanite), Bathsheba (Implicitly Hittite) …
  2. Some scholars argue that Matthew presents Joseph’s lineage while Luke
    presents Mary’s lineage. What we know through scripture is that Jesus is a direct
    descendant of the Davidic line, whether traced through Joseph, Mary, or both.
    (Romans 1:3)

Notable Mentions

  • Mark The Evangelist – Founder of the African Church and author of Mark’s Gospel
  • Joseph & Mary – Mother and Father of Jesus
    • By virtue of their lineage, they were at least of a mixed ancestral heritage.
  • The Canaanite Woman
    • Matthew 15:21-28, Mark 7:24-30
  • Apostle Paul?!? – Writer of 13/27 books in the New Testament
    • Acts 21:37-40
Blackness in The Early Church

1. Tertullian of Carthage (155 – 230 AD)

  1. African Church Father who founded the Carthaginian Theological School. (c. 155-
  2. It was the church father, Tertullian, who first introduced the term Trinity (trinitas)
    into the Christian vocabulary.6 This was coupled with the teaching that we serve one
    God in three persons. (tres personae)
  3. Tertullian was rather Pentecostal in his expression of faith as he joined the
    Montanist sect of Christianity. This group spoke in tongues and encouraged the gift
    of prophecy.

    1. His affiliation with this group has led many to consider him “The most
      misunderstood individual in all of church history.”
  4.  He is considered the father of Latin Christianity as he was the first to write in Latin.
    1. Roman Catholic Church (Western Church)

Notable Mentions

  • 3 African Popes
    • Pope Victor I (AD 189-199) – Popularized Latin as the common language of the
      church, thereby making Christianity more democratic and accessible to ordinary
    • Pope Melchaides/Meltiades (311-314) – Persecuted prior to his reign as pope. He
      was considered one of the African Christian martyrs.
    • Pope Gelasius I (A.D. 492-496) – Worked to settle conflicts in the church and
      believed that “both civil and sacred powers are of divine origin, and independent,
      each in its own sphere.”
  • Walter Arthur McCray, The Black Presence in The Bible, (Chicago, Ill.: Black Light Fellowship, 2000), 3.
  • Ibid., 13.
  • Ibid., 14.
  • Ibid., 14-15.
  • Ibid., 25.
  • Keith Augustus Burton, The Blessing of Africa, (Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2008), 131-132.
  • Ibid.
  • David Wilhite, Ancient African Christianity: An Introduction to a Unique Context and Tradition, (New York, NY:
    Routledge, 2017), 108.
Dr. Brandon I. McCrae
Dr. Brandon I. McCrae

“Through an Afrocentric outlook, one can discover biblical Blackness throughout the Scriptures. Using this same lens, one will discover the importance of Blacks throughout the formulation of church theology, dogma, tradition, scriptural interpretation, and every aspect of the Christian life. By omitting the Land of Ham, the scriptural narrative loses the pivotal places, spaces, and faces that makeup Christianity’s salvific purpose.”

Website Visitor
Fields marked with an * are required