Below i have attached a sample answer to the question below for refference.Assignment 5: Ancestral religions and the Origins of Monotheism (individual paper)(this is to be done individually not as a group!)DUE APRIL 24Readings to use for this assignment:ATR in Key ThesesGod in ATRBumuntu MemoryTolerant GodsOrigin of Monotheism (by Jan Assmann)Egypt and IsraelEgyptology and TheologyWHAT YOU HAVE TO DO IN YOUR PAPERThe focus of this paper is to understand the real nature of African religions and their contribution to Humanity.You basically have to summarize the readings around that specific topic.It is crucialto summarize the African vision of God (characteristics or attributes of God): use the following texts: “God in ATR,” “ATR in Key Theses” and “Tolerant Gods”to describe the African vision of morality (summarize specifically the major moral values taught by African spirituality): use the text titled “Bumuntu Memory” and “ATR in Key Theses.”to clarify what Africa has contributed to world civilization and “world spirituality” (via ancient Egypt). Here you have to address the Egyptian problem: what did Egypt contribute to the Bible, to Judaism, to Christianity, and to Pre-Christian Europe (mainly Greek Religion, Philosophy, Science, Democracy and Human Rights). And identify what Herodotus and Basil Davidson said about the culture and race of ancient Egyptians, and write your thought on this matter. Here use the following texts: Origin of monotheism (by Jan Assmann), Egypt and Israel, ATR in Key Theses, and “Egyptology and Theology.”Some Specific Questions to be addressed:
How do these readings dispel negative myths about African spirituality or African traditional religions?
What is the African conception of God (the nature of God and his characteristics, see text 10 on the Concept of God in African religions)
Summarize the fundamental moral values of African traditional religions and in so doing explain how Africans define a “good human being,” or a genuine religious person or someone regarded as holy or “a good guy.” ( “Bumuntu” text is critical here).
4. Explain the origin of Monotheism using these texts, especially the text by Jan Assmann. What is the African contribution to the Bible, to Judaism and to Christianity and to world religions in general?
5. How did you feel while doing this assignment? What did surprise you? What did you find unbelievable and why?
6. How did this assignment help you achieve the educational goals of our university
7. Identify 5 citations (sentences from the Readings) that you found significant for our learning process, and explain why you found them significant for our learning process in this course.GUIDING PERSPECTIVE FOR THIS PAPER“If archaeologists are correct in believing that the first human beings came from Africa, then it stands to reason that the first religions also originated there… It is possible that, as the earliest humans slowly migrated to other continents of the world, they carried with them religious ideas and practices that originated in Africa.”Robert M. Baum, “Indigenous Religious Traditions” in Willard G. Oxtoby and Alan F. Segal, A Concise Introduction to World Religions. (Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 15-17.In 2003, Dr. Jackson J. Spielvogel (Professor at the Pennsylvania State University) opened his book on “Western Civilization” with chapter one on “The Ancient Near East: the First civilizations” in which he made the following important remark:“All humans today, whether they are Europeans, Australian Aborigenes, or Africans, belong to the same subspecies of human being. The first anatomically modern humans, known as Homo Sapiens Sapiens appeared in Africa between 200,000 and 150,000 years ago. They began to spread outside Africa around 100,000 years ago… By 10,000 B.C., members of the Homo Sapiens Sapiens species could be found throughout the world… Western civilization can be traced back to the ancient Near East, where people in Mesopotamia and Egypt developed organized societies and created the ideas and institutions that we associate with civilization. The later Greeks and Romans, who played such a crucial role in the development of Western Civilization, where themselves nourished and influenced by these older societies in the Near East. It is appropriate, therefore, to begin our story of Western civilization in the ancient Near East with the early civilization of Mesopotamia and Egypt.” Jackson J. Spielvogel, Western Civilization. Volume 1: to 1715. (Thomson Wadsworth, 2003), p.2. “As the time drew near for God to fulfill the promise he had solemnly made to Abraham, our nation in Egypt grew larger and larger, until a new king came to power in Egypt who knew nothing of Joseph. He exploited our race, and ill-treated our ancestors, forcing them to expose their babies to prevent their surviving. It was in this period that Moses was born, a fine child and favored by God. He was looked after for three months in his father’s house, and after he had been exposed, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. So Moses was taught all the wisdom of the Egyptians and became a man with power both in his speech and his actions.”(Acts 7, 17-22, Stephen’s Speech. From The Jerusalem Bible).Robert Fisher, American missionary:Reflecting on the discoveries of linguistics, genetics, paleontology, and history of art, the American missionary Robert Fischer comes to the logical conclusion on the significant role played by Africa in the origin of world religions and their basic symbols and rituals, and religious language:
The scientists, whose job is to look for fossil remains and to dig for archeological evidence of human origins, have probably demonstrated quite well for us that the earliest human life forms appeared in East Africa over a million years ago. These paleoanthropologists maintain that the first humans evolved in Africa and migrated to Europe and Asia. These earliest human life are referred to as Homo erectus. The evolution from Homo Erectus to Homo Sapiens is explained in various ways. Some believing in the “multiregional hypothesis” claimed that some Homo Sapiens developed in Africa, another in Europe and another in Asia. But other scholars maintain that all humans that inhabit the earth today came out of the Homo Sapiens that evolved in Africa (“Out of Africa” theory). Scientists at Berkeley, California, and at Emory, in Atlanta, by looking at patterns of genetic variation of mitochondrial DNA among human populations, determined that Africans, of all existing populations, have the deepest genetic roots. Since only women are the bearers of a type of “genetic time-clock,” the African woman stands out as the model of a kind of “Mitochondrial Eve.” Thus genetic evidence point to the origin of humankind from a “Black Eve.” All humanity descends from a Black African woman. The fundamental belief among many scientists is that the transformation of an archaic human form to a modern form of Homo Sapiens occurred first in Africa about 100,000 to 150,000 years ago. From Africa this most recent ancestor migrated to spread over the face of the earth. All human beings therefore descended from Africans. This implies that not only humanity, but also language, culture, civilization and religion were born in Africa… Until about 1950 it was assumed that the Afroasiatic language family had been introduced into Africa from neighboring Asia, but now it is widely held that it originated in Africa west of the Red Sea. It includes the Semitic languages of southwestern Asia, such as Arabic, Hebrew, and ancient Aramaic, and the ancient Egyptian, Berber, Chadic, Cushitic, and Omotic languages of northern and northeastern Africa… The point we make here is that since the cradle of humanity was probably Africa – or, at least, one important segment of the species Homo Sapiens evolved out of an early genetic pool in Africa – one could claim that dance, ritual, and ceremony are the dramatic elements of the religious traditions that are still extant today all over sub-Saharan Africa and have spread from there over the face of the earth. The African is a person of dance. The Africans were the first human beings to dance and reflect on their humanity in terms of a world beyond the physical, the spiritual order of gods and ancestors. The Africans were the messengers of art and of the good news about a world beyond the mere mundane earth.”Robert B. Fisher, West African Religious Traditions: Focus on the Akan of Ghana. (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1998), pp.13-15; 30.
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Monotheism and ATR
A genuine person is one who can create a balance between his or her individuality and
community, which makes him or her a collective being (Nkulu-N’Sengha¸ “Bumuntu Memory”
305). Additionally, a good character is fundamental to personhood. Personal responsibility is
emphasized and arises from the belief that every individual is sacred. Therefore, a person is
given free will to make decisions that may lead to self-improvement or destruction. Moreover,
one is not forced to adhere blindly to the ethics that have been laid out. Humanity is another
aspect of personhood and is defined in terms of solidarity and hospitality (Nkulu-N’Sengha¸
“Bumuntu Memory” 306). As stated earlier, a genuine human being is whole rounded, which
allows him or her to be compassionate and display humanity toward others. Such a person has a
generous spirit which empathizes sharing with others. He or she also extends his or her goodness
to animals and nature.
An honest human being is also ethical. He or she is not only aware of what is right and
wrong but is also able to choose good over evil (Nkulu-N’Sengha¸ “Bumuntu Memory” 308). As
such, one can lose humanness through his or her behavior. Several virtues are extolled as
representative of a genuine person. They include “self-control moderation, kindness, generous,
justice and truthfulness” (Lichtheim 62). These virtues are supposed to be extended to all. Being
human is an ongoing process that every individual undertakes. As such, to be fully human is a
condition that is achieved through one’s way of life, and not inherent qualities. Personhood is
expressed by good deeds, speech, heart, and a good way of perceiving the world and people.
The African religion has ever since been put in museums and the truth has not been talked out.
Neo-colonialism is said to have taught Africans culture and religion including fetishism, but this
is not the case (Harris 259). Africans had their own traditions before colonialism and no outsider
brought them. Africans had myths and their own traditional cultures that they embraced, and they
knew what religion was but had no knowledge about it. It is evident that most textbooks and
readings provide manufactured barbarism and misinterpretations. The outside world has since
failed to understand the religion, culture, and tradition of Africans. Many books have tried to
discuss these especially African writers to try and bring us to an understanding of how African
traditional religion was strong before the pre-colonial years. Many archeologists believe that the
early man originated from Africa which means that religion really originated in Africa. But it is a
fact that they came with a give and take mentality and that’s why many of the African religion is
being embraced worldwide like voodoos.
God is conceived as close to humans but still mysterious. In his closeness, he can help
people in their distress, and he is a source of all good and a great father. His mysteriousness is
shown in Africans’ refusal to have an image of God. Humans can express their experience of
God but cannot know him in his entirety (Nkulu-N’Sengha, “God” 287). Africans accept that
human knowledge of God is limited, but God has been close and active enough for people to
describe him as a father, mother, judge, and most of all, creator. He is benevolent and cares for
all his creations. The understanding of God being a universal creator has enabled Africans to
explain the concept of race. Some, like the Shilluk, believe that God used different clays, while
others, like the Dogon, argue that he used the light of the moon to create Europeans and that of
the sun to create Africans (Nkulu-N’Sengha, “God” 288).
The African religion is a misconception by many people because it’s true that they had
their belief of many gods, such as the god of rains, they believed in their own gods but didn’t
have the rightful knowledge. It is not true to say that everything that Africans has, was borrowed
from the Westerners. Many writers have given a conception of Africans believing in magic as
their religion but that’s not the case as magic can never explain religion. It is said that when the
Africans failed to control magic phenomena, they turned their belief to God that He had all the
powers (Harris 260). This is why African universal prayers exist which means that the Africans
had a sense of belief of God. Africans had a belief that it was a moral value to have a god that’s
why sacrificial ceremonies were embraced but the Westerners came with a bad approach to make
Although God is referred to as mother or father in various ethnic groups in Africa, he
lacks gender identity (Nkulu-N’Sengha, “God” 288). The perception of God being a parent
accorded him a gender. As such, God can be a father or a mother. The Bakongo of the
Democratic Republic of the Congo refer to God as a mother. Others, such as the Maasai of
Kenya and Tanzania, refer to God as “Nursing Mother.” However, the perception of God as a
mother does not exclude the ability to become a father. As such, the idea of a gendered God is
present only to serve as an illustration of the quality of care that God accords humans.
In African religions, God is perceived as being pure. As such, any attempt to address him
or approach him must occur after some form of purification has been achieved (Nkulu-N’Sengha,
“God” 289). This purity translates to goodness, holiness, and righteousness. Since God has all
these attributes, he can judge humans. Additionally, his goodness is the source of African
morality. In his goodness, he does not punish children for the sins of their ancestors.
God is also perceived as omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent. To Africans, nothing
is too complicated for God (Nkulu-N’Sengha, “God” 289). He knows everything which allows
him to transcend time and space. These attributes are exemplified in the names given to God by
the different ethnic groups. For instance, the Baluba perceive God as the wind, the Ila claim that
he has “long ears,” and the Baganda refer to him as “the Great Eye” or “the Sun” (NkuluN’Sengha, “God” 290).
Africa contributed to the Bible, Judaism, Christianity through Egypt and Israel on Africa,
which helps in discussing the Ten Commandments. Africa had their impact in many ways of
contributing the bible especially Christianity. It is written in the bible that the saving of
Christianity and humanity started in Egypt as it shifted to Israel. The Egyptians only knew of
gods but the Israelites while still in Egypt believed in Christianity as a religion formed by God
himself and the other religions as forms of idolatry (Matthews 889). African religion is seen to
be as part of God’s nature work through the relative studies of numerous creations of myths, the
names of god and even the naming of African names. The African tradition experienced the
presence of God because God is of all humankind. The Ten Commandments really played in the
African religion even before the colonialism period because they had a belief in one of the Ten
Commandments which is man shall not kill (Spencer-Walters 299). They were several moral
value taboos they did stick upon which were relatively same with Gods Commandments’.
World civilization began in Mesopotamia and Egypt. People from these regions created
societies, ideas, and institutions that are today associated with modernization. Egyptians were
also the first people to use three hundred and sixty-five and a quarter as the number of days in a
year and the basis of the calendar (“ATR in Key Theses” 76). Africans from North Africa were
writers, generals, philosophers, emperors, and even popes. Moses was raised in Egypt and
learned its culture and wisdom, which is evident in the Bible. Egyptian religion influenced the
Hebrew religious traditions, and in turn, the Hebrew traditions influenced the orthodox Christian
theology. Traces of the Egyptian language, including idiomatic expressions, can be found in the
Bible (William 263). Additionally, scribal schools set up in Jerusalem were patterned from those
of Egypt (William 273). Practices such as anointing a respectable person with oil originated from
Egypt (William 275).
The “Greek Miracle” arises from the perception that Greeks were the inventors of
everything worthwhile, from geometry to astronomy. It is for that reason Greece is attributed
with the best inventions. It has been difficult to explain the sudden rise of civilization in Greece
(“ATR in Key Theses” 78). However, this so-called miracle of the Greek civilization has been
discovered to be an accumulation of knowledge acquired from its neighbors, especially
Egyptians. Most notable Greek thinkers and leaders had contacts with Egypt. They gained
knowledge across different fields from Egyptian priests. The conception of the ideology that
Egypt was a significant contributor to the Greek civilization raises the Egyptian problem that
tries to end the debate concerning the identity of the authors in ancient Egypt (“ATR in Key
Theses” 93). Scholars refused to believe that Africans could be creators of such a great
civilization. As such, researchers were left with the choice of either denying the existence of the
Egyptian civilization and race or both. The most logical option was the latter. Accepting that the
Egyptian civilization is African threatens the social order. Africans can no longer be classified as
backward or barbaric. Such paradigm shifts are a threat to some and create controversy.
African religions are complex and have a depth that cannot be ignored. Additionally, they
can make significant contributions to theology today. The understanding of African religions and
the contributions of Africans to human civilization has helped to justify why Africa and its
religions need to be studied objectively.
“The African God is not a jealous God” (Nkulu-N’Sengha, “God” 291).
This quotation explains many distinctive aspects of African religions. Africans’
perception of God not being jealous helps to explain why some ethnic groups believe that there
are several gods who have commissioned to work on behalf of God.
“Being a human being is an on-going progress” (Nkulu-N’Sengha¸ “Bumuntu Memory”
This statement disqualifies the notion that African religions lack moral principles. If one
can lose his or her humanity and humanity is gained by doing good as established by the ethical
system, then morality is a fundamental aspect of African religions. People are therefore given a
reason to strive to retain their humanity, thus justifying the importance of morality to Africans.
“Do not neglect my speech / Which lays down all the laws of kinship” (Lichtheim 107).
This phrase is similar in content and style to the instruction in Proverbs. This similarity to
the Bible attests to the fact that Africans made a significant contribution to Judaism.
“You make millions of forms (kheperu) from yourself alone” (Assman 176)
This line distinguishes between the creator and his or her creation. The idea of a creator is
predominant in African religions. This concept informs the ethical and moral standards set by
communities. Furthermore, the existence of a supreme being who is powerful enough to create
the universe qualifies the need for humans to find avenues to relate to him or her. Additionally,
the creator has certain expectations of his creations, which dictates how believers accord their
actions to be in line with these expectations, hence the creation of moral and ethical systems.
“I am because we are, and because we therefore I am” (Nkulu-N’Sengha¸ “Bumuntu
This statement is interesting as it exemplifies the importance of solidarity. The
relationship between humans in the African context is expected to be deeper than simply
empathic. When someone experiences something, it is not enough to be compassionate; one is
supposed to react as if the event occurred to them. Africans believe that humans are bound
together, and one’s pain is equally another’s. This level of connectedness is unbelievable.
The acts of apostles explain that God shall treat every man and any nation the same so
long they believe in Him and follow His commands. This is the virtue that the African and
Westerners did stick to too. What I learned from this context readings about the African religion
and what helped me understand Africa better is through deep research and a good understanding
of the same. The African religion has had a misconception from the outside and the real religion
of the Africans has been hidden in the museum with a claim that the Westerners taught the
Africans their religion which is very wrong. So, it true that the African traditional religion exists
on its own.
Assmann, Jan. Moses the Egyptian: The Memory of Egypt in Western Monotheism. Harvard
“ATR in Key Theses: Summary of the Critical Points on the Study of African Traditional
Religions.” 2014. PDF file.
Harris, John Richard, and Stephen Ranulph Kingdon Glanville, eds. The legacy of Egypt. Oxford
University Press, USA, 1971.
Lichtheim, Miriam. Ancient Egyptian Literature: Volume I: The Old and Middle Kingdoms.
University of California Press, 2006.
Matthews, Donald. “Proposal for an afro-centric curriculum.” Journal of the American
Academy of Religion 62.3 (1994): 885-892.
Nkulu-N’Sengha, Mutombo. “Bumuntu Memory and Authentic Personhood: An African Art of
Becoming Humane.” Memory and the Narrative Imagination in the African and
Diaspora Experience, edited by Tom Spencer-Walters, Bedford Publishers, 2011,
Spencer-Walters, Tom. Memory and the Narrative Imagination in the African and Diaspora
Experience. Troy, Mich: Bedford Publishers, 2011. Print.
—. “God.” Encyclopedia of African Religion, Volume 1, edited by Molefi K. Asante and Ama
Mazama, SAGE, 2009, pp. 284-293.
William, Ronald. “Egypt and Israel.” The Legacy of Egypt, edited by John R HARRIS, 2nd ed.,
Clarendon Press, 1971, pp. 257-290.
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