Alexander Winchell.

Adamites and preadamites; or, A popular discussion concerning the remote representatives of the human species and their relation to the Biblical Adam online

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Online LibraryAlexander WinchellAdamites and preadamites; or, A popular discussion concerning the remote representatives of the human species and their relation to the Biblical Adam → online text (page 1 of 4)
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jlhaimi^s mh ^ijeahattnbs.



CHAPTER I.



A SAGACIOUS DUTCHMAN.



In 1655 a small book appeared in Paris, which had for its title
the unheard-of subject, " Pre- Adamites.*' It was written in Latin,
and its full title was as follows : Pra'Adamitce^ sive Exercitatio
super Versibus duodecimo^ decimo tertio et decimo quarto^ capitis quinti
EpistolcE D. Pauli ad RomanoSy quibus inducuntur Primi Homines
ante Adamum conditio The book appeared anonymously; and
those acquainted with the spirit of the dominant ecclesiasticism
of that date will readily divine the motive of its author. It very
soon became known, however, that it was written by La Peyrere,
a Dutch ecclesiastic, whose name when Latinized was Peyrerius.
The work was an attempt to prove from biblical authority that
men must have lived on the earth before Adam. Within a year ap-
peared its complement, from the pen of the same author, in which
the whole subject was newly argued and more thoroughly discussed.
This was a " Theological System based on the Hypothesis of Pre-
Adamites." The two works may now occasionally be found in
one volume. The Syracuse University possesses a copy.

The following year a book appeared in London, th^ title of
which is a literal translation of that of " Prae-Adamitse,*' but it
includes also the " Systema Theologicum " of Peyrerius.

In the undeveloped stage of scientific inquiry existing two and
a quarter centuries ago, it is certain that no investigation respect-
ing Pre-Adamites could have been conducted on true anthropo-



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4 ADAMITES AND PRBADAMITES.

logical principles. In Europe the Bible was the source and basis
of all belief. Whatever the ecclesiastical authorities had accepted
and sanctioned was held to be taught by the Bible. Whatever the
ecclesiastical authorities did not understand the Bible to teach was
denounced as heresy. The meaning of the Bible was extracted
according to the canons of grammar. There are doctors high in
authority amongst us at this day, who maintain that grammatical
structure and Hebrew usage are sufficient to light the way to the
meaning of the darkest passages of revelation. I suppose a knowl-
edge of Hebrew history and usages is admitted to shed its light
upon interpretation, because the text is generally occupied with
Jewish affairs. But the inspired writers have sometimes plunged
into the midst of the profound and mysterious facts of science ;
why not, then, summon all our knowledge to the task of evoking the
meaning of the text } I maintain, against the narrow and perni-
cious dogma that the Bible is sufficient everywhere to interpret
itself, that, on the contrary, it was ordained to be interpreted un-
der the concentrated light of all the learning which has been
created by a God-given intelligence in man. I believe that the
Bible was written for all lime, and that its meaning is so deep and
so rich that the accumulated learning of the latest generation of
men will be unable to exhaust it.

Not so the contemporaries of Peyrerius. Even where two or
more different meanings of the text were equally grammatical and
legitimate, that was held to be the true meaning which accorded
best with current beliefs. An alternative interpretation, when
once promulgated, was held to be divine truth, as absolute and
authoritative as if no other interpretation were possible. Per-
haps the well-established infallibility of the church had an interest
in consistency. No matter if it concerned a fact of a purely sci-
entific or secular character, the verdict was held as binding on
the conscience as if the church had been in possession of all pos-
sible science.

According to the evidence till then available for the formation
of opinion, it had been held that Adam was absolutely " the first
being that could be called a man ; " and that he was created in
the possession of a culture such as we call enlightened. From
time immemorial, biblical scholars had understood this to be the



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A SAGACIOUS DUTCHMAN. 6

meaning of Genesis. It was, therefore, only on biblical grounds
that Peyrerius based the new doctrine of Pre- Adamites. St. Paul
was held to teach the existence of men before Adam, in the 12th,
13th and 14th verses of the 5th chapter of his epistle to the Ro-
mans, (" Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world,*'
etc)

Now it is no part of my purpose to exhibit the scriptural argu-
ment on one side or the other. Many of my readers can do that
better than I. My purpose is to bring forward certain scientific
facts having a bearing on that question, and to leave exegesis to
summon these important facts legitimately to its aid. But the
writings of Peyrerius possess, in the present status of science, an
extraordinary interest. He was the first to promulgate to the
world the idea of Pre-Adamites. The first enunciator of the idea
was prompted only by biblical considerations, and he has given
at least an outline of the scriptural argument in support of the
hypothesis. Few of my readers intelligently interested in a ques-
tion deemed by some so fundamental in a theological system have
access to the original work ; and still fewer would have the pa-
tience to decipher, as I have done, the quaint old Latin text. I
assume, then, that they will consider it a favor to be put in
possession of the learned Dutchman's "points.*' They are 'as
follows :

I. The " one man " (Romans v. 12,) by whom " sin entered into
the world " was Adam ; for, in v. 14, that sin is called " Adam's
transgression " ; therefore " the law " (v. 13) signifies the law given
to Adam — natural law, not that given to Moses. 3. The phrase
" until the law " (v. 13) implies a time before the law — that is, be-
fore Adam ; and, as ** sin was in the world " during that time,
there must have been men in existence to commit sin. 4. The
sin committed before the enactment of the natural law was " ma-
terial," "actual;" the sin existing after Adam, and through him,
was " imputed," "formal," " legal," " adventitious " and " after the
similitude of Adam's transgression." 5. Death entered into the
world before Adam ; but it was because of the imputation " back-
wards " of Adam's prospective sin; and this was necessary, that
all men might partake of the salvation provided in Christ. Nev-
ertheless, death before Adam did not " reign." Death was robbed



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6 ADAMITES AND PREADAMITE8.

of its Sting. 6. Adam was the " first man *' only in the same
sense as Christ was the " second man ; *' for Adam " was the fig-
ure of Christ." (v. 14.) 7. All men are of one blood in the
sense of one substance —one " matter." The Jews are descended
from Adam ; the Gentiles from Pre- Adamites. The first chapter
of Genesis treats of the origin of the Gentiles ; the second, of the
origin of the Jews. The Gentiles were created aborigines, in the
beginning, by the " word " of God, in all lands ; Adam, the
father of the Jews, was formed of " clay," by the "hand " of God.
Genesis, after the first chapter, is a history, not of the first men,
but of the first Jews. 8. The existence of Pre-Adamites is also
indicated in the biblical account of Adam's family, especially of
Cain, who found a wife amongst some older peoples, and went
forth in fear of violence from strange hands. 9. The biblical
doctrine is corroborated by the evidence afforded by the " monu-
ments " of Egypt and Chaldea ; and by the history of the
astronomy, astrology, theology and magic of the Gentiles; as
well as by the racial features of remote and savage tribes ; and
by those discoveries of fossil remains in the rocks, which were
then recent events, but which have since become the founda-
tion of the modern science of geology. 10. Hence the epoch
of the creation of the world does not date from that "begin-
ning " commonly figured in Adam, but " from a remoter beginning,
which is to be sought in ages long since passed." 11. The deluge
of Noah was not universal, and it destroyed only the Jews. Nor
is it possible to trace to Noah the origins of all the races of men.
Some of these positions were far in advance of the age ; and it
is only just to say that they were defended with learning and in-
genuity, and, best of all, with moderation and candor. But they
were all "heretical." Peyrerius was, therefore, made a victim of
the intolerance of the times. Numerous replies were thrown upon
the world, in most of which, bitterness, contempt and denuncia-
tion were employed to supply all deficiencies of argument. Many
of these I have been able, through the kindness of Mr. Spofford,
Librarian to Congress, to examine in the Congressional Library.
The most important, whose translated titles I here present, will
serve to convey an idea of the temper of the age.

I . " No Pre- Adamite Being ; or a Confutation of a certain em p-



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DISPERSION OF THE N0ACHITB8. 7

ty dream, in which a certain anonymous author, under pretext of
sacred Scripture, has lately attempted to impose on the incautious,
pretending that men were in the world before Adam.'*

2. "Animadversions on the Book of Pre-Adamites, in which a
late writer is confuted, and the doctrine is defended that Adam
was the first of all men."

3. "Response to a treatise entitled Pre-Adamites."

The writers of these responses have, of course, employed strict-
ly scriptural arguments, but they have brought to their aid the
dialectic skill which characterized the scholastic theology, as well
as the authority of the older writers and the dicta of councils
and ecclesiastics.

Now, the whole controversy concerns a question of fact, and
we are at this day in possession of many collateral lines of evi-
dence to place by the side of old scriptural interpretation. We
can summon ethnology, archaeology and anthropology to bear
witness. The truth seems to be that these witnesses are quite as
competent to testify as witnesses need to be. It is their business to
know all that is knowable about the matter. The answer to the
question is a fact of science, sustaining fixed relations to the oth-
er facts patent before the eyes of the investigator. Whether the
world has been populated by people who spread from Ararat for-
ty-two centuries ago, or even from Mesopotamia fifty-nine centuries
ago, is a question of fact, to be investigated strictly on the basis
of scientific evidence. I think a great deal of evidence is now
accessible, perhaps enough to lead us to a final conclusion. What-
ever conclusions may be found to represent the truth, I believe
our sacred records will be found in harmony.



CHAPTER II.

DISPERSION OF THE NOACHITES.

In discussing the question of Pre-Adamites from anthropolog-
ical data, the first requisite is to trace the geographical dispersion
of the descendants of Noah. The oldest document available for
information on this subject is the Book of Genesis ; and, aside
from any claim to inspiration, its statements -respecting the im-
mediate posterity of Noah have been found so closely accordant



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DISPERSION OP THB NOACHITES. 9

authorities — Rawlinson, Lenormant, Oppert, Peschel, Jubainville.
The Egyptians were certainly pure Hamites, and they are still
represented by the Fellaheen, or peasantry of the lower Nile ;
and especially by the Coptic Christians of the towns. The Ham-
itic Berbers, including Libyans, Moors, Numidiansand Gaetulians
are spread, intermingled with Semites and Europeans, through
the countries of the Mediterranean, and through the Sahara.
Other Hamitic nations, possessing a civilization far beyond that
of any of the purely black races, occupy some of the regions
about the Nile, especially in Nubia, and are scattered in distinct
tribes, united by common linguistic elements, through Abyssinia,
and in one direction as far as the heart of Africa, from eight de-
grees north to three degrees south, and in the other direction,
from near Bab-el-Mandeb to Juba on the Indian ocean. The
Hamitic dialects and Hamitic civilization, wherever they occur,
are readily recognized as superior to any of the indigenous pro-
ductions of the black races.

The antiquity of Hamitic civilization in Egypt is indicated by
the recorded observations of the heliacal rising of the Dog Star.
This is the rising of the Dog Star just before the sun, in the
first thoth or month of the year. This is a conjunction which
occurs only once in 146 1 years We have a heliacal rising re-
corded for 1322 B. C. The period, or Sothis, ending at that
date began 2782 B. C. As the observations must, apparently,
have extended through at least one preceding sothic period, to
enable them to know its length, the Egyptian observations must
have begun as early as 4243 B. C. This is the opinion of Lep-
sius {Chronologic der Aegypter pt. I. p. 165 seq.) Some other
respectable authorities — as Lane, Poole, Brown and Wilkinson —
dissent from the inference of so high an antiquity for the first
Egyptian dynasty. They maintain that the " era of Menes "
reaches back no farther than 2717 B. C; and some second-hand
Egyptologists would bring it down to 2464 B. C. It is impossible
to discern j:he logic, if we could discover the motive, for the prev-
alent desire to cut down the period of Egyptian civilization, since
nearly all the original investigators agree in assigning to it a high
antiquity. The most moderate of the German authorities places
Menes at 3892 B. C; and " in his time the Egyptians had long



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DISPERSION OF THE NOACHITKS. 11

that the Hamites and Semites developed their languages in a
common primeval home. This is also taught in Genesis (chap.
X, ^-is) where (Semitic) Sidon is described as the, oldest son of
Canaan, who was descended from Ham. This is the extent of
the early migrations of the Semites. They have not escaped ob-
servation. They have been conspicuous actors in the historic
world.

It only remains to follow the track of the Japhetites, Indo-Eu-
ropeans or Aryans. When first known, they are national neighbors
of the Asiatic Hamites and Semites. They dwelt along the
slopes of the Caucasus, and through the gorge of Dariel, within
reach of both the Euxine and the Caspian seas. According to
some of the authorities, they dwelt nearer to central Asia. Their
migrations were both southeastward and eastward. In the first
direction, they passed over the Hindu Kush mountains, on the
northwestern border of Hindustan, and settled in the region of
the " Seven Rivers *' — the modern Punjab. Here Brahmanism
underwent its development and decline. The Vedas they had
brought with them from central Asia. These had originated as
early as 1400 to 2400 B. C. Moving still farther southward they
displaced an aboriginal population, and drove them to the hills,
and to the extreme parts of the Indian peninsula. To this day,
Hindustan is populated by the millions of descendants of the
Asiatic branch of the Aryan family.

But while these eastward migrations were in progress, another
branch of the Aryans moved toward Europe. According to some
of the authorities, they passed through the gorge of Dariel into
Europe; according to others, they moved along the eastern bor-
der of the Caspian Sea. According to all authorities, they
appeared in Europe on the north of the Caucasus. Holding com-
munication across the mountains with both Semites and Hamites,
they received from them the excellencies of their civilization.
From them were obtained wheat, rye and barley; and these
cereals, together with the plough and the metals — gold, silver and
bronze — they bore with them into central Europe, where they
appeared about 2000 B. C; reached the Adriatic (as Istrians,)
and (as Venetes) founded the city of Venice (Venetia). They
also held part of the Archipelago; and, as Phrygians, conquered



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THE BLACK RACES NOT ADAMITES. 13

manic people spread over India. From this centre a succession
of waves of migration tended toward Europe. The first of these
we may designate the Thracian ; the second, the Hellenic ; the
third, the Keltic ; the fourth, the Scythian. Probably, however,
the first three migrations were only ramifications of the first Asiatic
invasion, while the Scythians made an independent invasion from
Asia.

The facts here set forth are supplied by the very latest ethnol-
ogical researches. (See Jubainville, Les Premiers Habitans de
rEurope, 1877, and Le Hon, L'Homme Fossile, 1877.) Il is of
interest to us to note that the Hindus are members of the same
race, and of the same family of that race, as ourselves. They are
possessed, then, of similar intellectual and moral characteristics.
If we style them " heathen " we must remember that they are
wise and thoughtful heathens, armed with science and philosophy
far above our contempt.

As to the movements of the Aryan family since the Christian
era, history is able to speak with a certain sound. No fragment
of the family has escaped observation. It would not be possible
to conceal itself in the remotest quarters of the world. The
color of its skin would betray it. The tint and texture of its
hair would reveal it. The very speech of the rudest peasant
would proclaim it. The clang and tone of the Greek and the
Sanscrit are in the speech of the most ignorant Suabian and the
most servile Slav.



CHAPTER III.

THE BLACK RACES NOT ^ADAMITES.

We have traced the sons of Noah in all their wanderings over
the earth. We have swept over Southern and Eastern Asia. We
have pursued the swarms of men across the north and northeast
of Africa. We have followed wave after wave over the Caucasus
and over the Bosphorus ; and have seen all Europe, save North-
ern Russia and Scandinavia, trod by the feet of Asiatic immi-
grants. "These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their
generations in their nations.'*

But now we reach an interesting juncture in the progress of



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THE BLACK RACES NOT ADAMITES. 15

Chinese and Tartars and Malays belong here, as well as the Si-
berian tribes, and the Finns and Lapps of Europe. The fierce
Huns were of this race; and so, with more or less of intermix-
ture, are the modern Magyars and Turks. More than this, the
aborigines of America are Mongoloids — not less the civilized Pe-
ruvians and Aztecs than the Chippeways, Iroquois and other
North American tribes, and the Aleuts and Eskimo of the ex-
treme north. The Mongoloids encircle the globe. They belt it
without interruption, in the frozen latitudes ; and the Mongoloid
Malays penetrate the tropics of Polynesia, while Mongoloid
Americans range through all the zones. No race, save the Med-
iterranean, has ever had a dispersion at all .comparable. Can
these be cousins of the Noachites, and brethren of the Dravida ?
Are these the sons of Adam ? The dusky Dravida could not well
disown relationship, on the score of complexion, with the dusky
Malay. But the Dravidian's curly hair reveals little affinity with
the straight, coarse hair of the Mongoloid ; and the latter's high
cheek bones and generally obliquely set eyes wedge the races
apart so far that we feel a little incredulity respecting the claim
that the antediluvian period of less than two thousand years
could have marked them with such disparity, while the two thous-
and years of our acquaintance with the two races has witnessed
no sensible divergence. Could 1656 years differentiate three
races, while the next 4225 years have not increased the number.^
Must the Mongoloids be admitted as Adamites ? Since we have
provisionally let in the dusky Dravida, let us also admit provis-
ionally the dusky Mongoloids, and then ascertain what results.

The Negroes are about to cause us trouble. The Negroes
have made us a great deal of trouble. The whole group of black
races recedes from the white and dusky races. These tropical
ebonites are now regarded as comprising four races. The three
families of Noachites constitute still, after a lapse of more than four
thousand years, but a single race. Compare with this fact the
differentiation of black men into four properly characterized ra-
ces, and we have at once a fact bearing on the antiquity of the
black races. These races are (i) Negroes, (2) Hottentots and
Bushmen, (3) Papuans, (4) Australians. Besides their black
skins, they all have narrow heads (dolicho-cephalous — a term which



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THE BLACK RACES NOT ADAMITES. 17

than in the Negro, and the nose, instead of being flat, is broad and
straight, and sometimes even aquiline. In intelligence, they
range from the besotted fetish-worshipers*of New Guinea, to the
semi-civilized Fijians.

The Australians are so named from the vast island, which, with
Tasmania and small contiguous islands, is their exclusive home.
Their whole body is thickly hairy. The hair of the head is mat-
ted and shaggy, but less spreading than that of the Papuans.
Their language is well developed, and the use of the boomerang
is another proof of their intellectual capacity. So is their system
of religious beliefs and practices. But they use no metallic im-
plements, and their- boats are mere logs, which may be regarded
as the initial point in the evolution of naval structures.

These four constitute the Black races. We have to consider
whether they, too, are descendants of the same Adam as the White


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Online LibraryAlexander WinchellAdamites and preadamites; or, A popular discussion concerning the remote representatives of the human species and their relation to the Biblical Adam → online text (page 1 of 4)