A contribution to the Common Knowledge symposium on xenophilia, this article examines the ethnic groups (more than a dozen) on the African continent that have proclaimed their connections to ancient Israel and have developed versions of their tribal histories that place them as a part of the worldwide Jewish Diaspora. Members of these communities may number in the hundreds of thousands and have been striving for Jewish recognition. These developments comprise one facet of the burgeoning phenomenon of African philo-Semitism. This essay, which is in equal measure chronological and thematic, seeks to characterize African affiliation with Jews with respect to three themes or phases. The first involves the figural associations, learned in Christian missionary contexts, that have influenced the adaptation of Judaism within African tribal religions. The second concerns the study and legitimization of extant African traditions said to be of Hebrew origin. The third addresses cultural transactions between biblical model and African tradition that have favored the rationale of a common historical and theological provenance.
Edith Bruder; PHILO-SEMITISM AND AFFILIATION TO JUDAISM IN AFRICA. Common Knowledge 1 September 2017; 23 (3): 440–467. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0961754X-3988210
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