The Blessing of Africa: The Bible and African Christianity, By Keith Augustus Burton
The Blessing of Africa
  • Length: 294 pages
  • Published: July 25, 2007
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 2762
  • ISBN: 9780830827626

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According to some estimates, Africa will soon have the highest concentration of Christians in the world. But African Christianity has had a long and conflicted history. Even today, modern misinterpretations of Scripture argue for God's curse upon the dark-skinned peoples of Africa.

In this comprehensive study, Keith Burton traces the story of biblical Africa and the place of the Bible in the land of Ham. Beginning with the Old Testament, he explores the geography of biblical Africa and moves beyond stereotypical discussions of African ethnicity and identity. He then chronicles the African presence in the church from the New Testament onward, paying particular attention to the growth of Islam in Africa as well as the impact of European colonialism and the slave trade. Coming to the modern era, he examines the achievements of African Christianity and visionary efforts to adapt and reclaim Christianity for the African context.

Burton invites readers to discover anew the relevance of the biblical narrative for African Christians as well as Scripture's influence on African Christianity. This invigorating work places the story of the Bible and African Christianity in a wider global context and challenges readers to think differently about history and the biblical world.

"This is indeed a landmark publication as it is an invaluable contribution on the specificity of African Christian theology that has blossomed in the last thirty-five years since J. S. Mbiti's seminal article of 1972. I wholeheartedly commend The Blessing of Africa to all, especially Africans and African Americans who want to appreciate the Bible as the basis of African Christianity and its theology in the world today."

Ukachukwu Chris Manus, professor, Department of Religious Studies, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, and author of Christ the African King and Intercultural Hermeneutics of the Bible in Africa

"Keith Augustus Burton, in his new volume, The Blessing of Africa: The Bible and African Christianity, helps us to see that all roads do not lead to Rome. There is at least one highway that tends southward toward Ethiopia and even to the lands beyond its rivers. As Augustine said, 'God hath foretold that the Church should be in Africa.'

Dr. Burton's familiarity with the sources and his broad historical view make it possible for him to paint a vivid picture of Yahweh's word at work in the 'land of Ham.' In a day when historians, religion teachers, journalists and even filmmakers are rushing to grasp the significance of Africa's sudden turn toward Christianity, Burton makes solid sense of what is happening biblically, theologically and historically. He deserves our thanks. You will agree as you read it."

Charles E. Bradford, president (retired), Seventh-day Adventist Churches in North America

"I found this book fascinating and have learned from it considerably, both on matters I have previously studied and on material that was new to me. On points where my views differ, Burton has challenged and stimulated my thinking."

Craig S. Keener, professor of New Testament, Palmer Theological Seminary, and coauthor of Black Man's Religion and Defending Black Faith

"It is imperative to commend The Blessing of Africa, which is based on extensive review of the literature by the author who provides the sources for his arguments and analysis. The author has also successfully demonstrated the point that Africa can by no means be ignored in the study of the history of the chosen people in the Bible, and that Africans have not been mere recipients, but also participants in the evolution of the history of Christianity."

Michael Omolewa, The Journal of African American History

". . .a wonderful resourece to students of church history and students of the Bible in general."

Nicholas Oyugi (blogger), July 9, 2008

". . .fascinating. . .a landmark publication."

Jan Arkills, Lamplighter, August 2008

"Those curious about Africa's active role in the Bible's text and times will find Burton's extensive geographical tracing of African places illuminating. Theologians interested in the unique historical and cultural forces framing a distinct African theology will find Burton's sketch most satisfying. Church historians will see missions in a new light."

Carolyn D. Baker, The Pneuma Review, Summer 2008

"This book is worth reading. No reader will be disappointed after perusing its lucid pages."

J. N. K. Mugambi, Review of Biblical Literature, April 2008

"This is a very interesting book to read, very creatively crafted, well written, and adequately documented. . . . No reader will be disappointed after perusing its lucid pages."

J. N. K. Mugambi, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya, in Review of Biblical Literature



Part One. The Land of Ham: Defining Biblical Africa
1. The Table of Nations in Genesis 10
2. Defining the Territory of Cush
3. Defining the Territory of Misrayim
4. Defining the Territory of Canaan

Part Two. Family Reunion: Africans in the Bible
5. Identifying the Africans in Cush
6. Identifying the Africans in Misrayim
7. Identifying the Africans in Canaan

Part Three. Growing Pains: The Bible in Emerging African Christianity
8.The Development of Christianity in Palestine
9. The Development of Christianity in North Africa
10. The Development of Christianity in Arabia and Ethiopia

Part Four. Total Eclipse: Islam's Distortion of the Biblical Message
11. The Influence of the Bible on the Koran
12. The Growth of Islam in Biblical Africa

Part Five: Hostile Takeover: Europe's Manipulation of the Biblical Message
13. The European Crusade Against Islam
14. The Struggle for Control in the Ethiopian Church
15. Mission and Colonization in Sub-Saharan Africa

Part Six. Free at Last: The Bible and African Liberation
16. The Decline of Christianity in Islamic Africa
17. The Shortcomings of Ethiopian Christianity
18. The Impact of Christianity on Sub-Saharan Africa


Appendix 1. Descendants of Ham and the Modern Locations of their Assigned Territories
Appendix 2. Shared Blessings: Hamo-Semitic Africans in the Land of Cush
Works Cited
Subject Index
Author Index
Name Index
Scripture Index


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Keith Augustus Burton

Keith Augustus Burton (PhD, Northwestern) is president of Life Heritage Ministries. He is also adjunct instructor of religion at the Florida Hospital College of Health Sciences and coordinator for the Center for Adventist-Muslim Relations at Oakwood University, where he previously served as a professor of theology. His books include Rhetoric, Law and the Mystery of Salvation in Romans 7:1-6, The Compassion of the Christ, and Faith Factor.