Christianity was in Africa about 1600 years before the Atlantic Slave trade. Therefore, Christianity in the black community is not merely the result of slave owners forcing their ideas and “God” onto the slaves.
In fact, the Ethiopian eunuch of the Bible is traditionally credited for being among the first to bring the news of the Messiah, and therefore Christianity, to Ethiopia and Arabia Felix. Ethiopian tradition refers to him as Indich. He was undoubtedly a black man because Ethiopians were most commonly called such due to the tone of their skin, not only because of the land they have originated. However, it is not as clear whether or not he was castrated. Not to suggest it would make much difference, but it is important to note the term eunuch was not only used for them that has been castrated and also for men of high royal authority that had not. Philip the Evangelist, is also noted to have accompanied the work in Ethiopia. Some have named Andrew, Matthew, and Thomas, three of the original apostles, as preachers
of Jesus Christ in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo church roots go back as far as the first century within the lifetime of Jesus’ first eyewitnesses. In fact, Matthew and Bartholomew, who were non-
Anglo, are largely credited with the establishment of their church. Simeon who is called Niger (not Nigger), was a member of a team of prophets and teachers in the Bible (Acts 13:1). He is widely regarded by biblical scholars as being a black man. For the record, the word nigger is a highly offensive and derogatory term originating from the Atlantic Slave Trade Era. The intent of the word’s usage went far beyond identifying the color of an African descendant’s skin tone. The word was meant to demean and relegate blacks to a position of inferiority. However, it is essential to understand the Latin term niger was not used as a derogatory term for subjugation. With that said, Simeon’s name was not a disrespectful label. He was a revered leader in the early church. Athanasius, the 4th century Bishop of Alexandria, was known as the Black Dwarf by his enemies because he was a short and dark-skinned Egyptian. Despite the demeaning tag given to him, Athanasius was respected by his community. He was instrumental in shaping the ideas of Christian thought and defending sound doctrines against teachings that today are recognized mainly as heretical, although during his time the debate was not as clear.