Meshech, Tubal, And Company: A Review Article -- By: Edwin M. Yamauchi

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 19:3 (Summer 1976)
Article: Meshech, Tubal, And Company: A Review Article
Author: Edwin M. Yamauchi

Meshech, Tubal, And Company: A Review Article

Edwin M. Yamauchi*

Noahs Three Sons: Human History in Three Dimensions. The Doorway Papers,Volume I. By Arthur C. Custance. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975, 368 pp., $8.95.

Arthur Custance, who has the M. A. in oriental languages and the Ph.D. in anthropology, has published 60 studies under the rubric of “Doorway Papers.” He has gathered five of them in this volume, the first of a projected 10-volume series. These studies, which range from a short 11-page chapter on “Why Noah Cursed Canaan Instead of Ham” (pp. 142-152) to a 148-page essay on “A Christian World View” (pp. 218-365), were first published between 1957 and 1973.

The author’s novel and far-reaching interpretation of history is founded on a tripartite division of mankind:

My basic thesis is that the tenth chapter of Genesis, the oldest Table of Nations in existence, is a completely authentic statement of how the present world population originated and spread after the Flood in the three families headed respectively by Shem, Ham, and Japheth (p. 12).

His contention, supported by long lists of achievements culled from wide reading, is that “the contribution of Shem has been a spiritual one, of Ham a technological one, and of Japheth an intellectual one” (p. 43). This insight has been “quite unsuspected by most students of history up to the present time” (p. 12).

Custance would date the composition of the Table of Nations about the 20th or 19th century B.C. at the very latest (p. 79). He would date the Flood and “the events outlined in this Table of Nations” at about 2500 B.C. and not much earlier than 4000 B.C. (p. 119). That is, he holds that the Flood which destroyed all mankind save Noah and his family occurred at a relatively late date and that the dispersion of all mankind followed—a proposition which does not accord with anthropological data, as the author himself realizes:

In this case, we are forced to conclude that … all fossil men, all prehistoric peoples, all primitive communities extinct or living, and all civilizations since, must be encompassed within this span of a few thousand years. And on the face of it, the proposal seems utterly preposterous (p. 119).

Part of Custance’s observations seem plausible enough. The children of Shem—the Jews, the early Jewish Christians, and the Arabs—have given to us the outstanding spiritual legacy of the great

*Edwin Yamauchi is professor of history at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.

monotheistic religions. The Greeks, who are children of...

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