The Scythians—Who Were They? And Why Did Paul Include Them in Colossians 3:11? | CBE International

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The Scythians—Who Were They? And Why Did Paul Include Them in Colossians 3:11?

Scythians in the Bible

Colossians 3:11

Many readers of this journal will have memorized Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”1 They may not be as familiar with the parallel passage in Colossians 3:11, which omits any reference to gender: “Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.”2

Who indeed were the Scythians? And why does Paul refer to them? In this article, I will give a survey of their history and culture and examine different ways in which scholars have understood the function of the word in Colossians 3:11.

Periphrastic versions render the terms barbaros, skuthēs as: “barbarians or Scythians [who are the most savage of all]”;3 “alien, savage”;4 “uncivilized and uncouth”;5 “barbaric and uncouth”; 6 “foreigner, savage”;7 and “foreigner or savage.”8 Whereas older foreign translations were content to transliterate the word, more recent translations attempt to use explanatory terms.9

This general view of the Scythians is based on a wealth of classical references,10 and is generally reflected in all the commentaries, e.g., “The Scythians are cited as an especially strange kind of barbarian”;11 “The ‘Scythian’ represents the lowest kind of barbarian who was probably also a slave; the term was applied to tribes around the Black Sea. . . .”12

Old Testament references

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word Ashkenaz occurs in Genesis 10:3; in its parallel, 1 Chronicles 1:6; and in Jeremiah 51:27.13 The word has been identified with the Akkadian (i.e., Babylonian) word Ishkuza for the Scythians. More problematic is the identification of the “foes from the north” in Jeremiah and in Habakkuk with the Scythians, a view favored by a minority of scholars.14 I have contended that there is new archaeological evidence to suggest that some Scythians may have served as mercenaries in the Babylonian armies of Nebuchadnezzar when they attacked Jerusalem.15

Scythian history

Cuneiform sources

The cuneiform texts of Assyrian kings refer to the invasion of the Cimmerians and the Scythians in the eighth through the seventh centuries B.C. along Assyria’s northern frontier. In a careful examination of these sources, Anne G. Kristensen rejects the classical evidence that the former tribes came from the north and locates Gamir in the area of the Mannai (biblical Minni) near Lake Urmia in northwestern Iran.16 But, she then comes to the curious conclusion that the Cimmerians were the “lost tribes” deported by the Assyrians from the northern kingdom of Israel.

Classical sources

Hesiod (7th c. B.C.) is the first Greek writer to note the Scythians. The most important source for the early history of the Scythians, Medes, and Persians was the fifth-century “Father of History,” Herodotus,17 who traveled to the Greek colony of Olbia18 on the northern shore of the Black Sea to get invaluable information on the history and culture of the Scythians, who had eventually settled in the area of present-day Ukraine. Though some of the details of Herodotus’s account have been questioned, archeological evidence has confirmed much of his information on the Scythians.19

Scythian origins

The Scythians were the first of numerous waves of warriors on horses who swept westward over the vast Eurasian steppes, which extend from Mongolia more than four thousand miles to the Carpathian Mountains in Europe. They would be followed over the centuries by groups such as the Huns, the Magyars (who settled in Hungary), the Bulgars (who settled in Bulgaria), and the Mongols.

Their original home may have been at the eastern edge of this steppe region near the Altai Mountains of Siberia, where pole tops from the eighth century B.C., which are similar to those later excavated in the Scythian mound burials in the Ukraine, have been found. According to Herodotus (4.12), after moving westward around the Caspian Sea, the Scythians pursued the Cimmerian tribes over the Caucasus Mountains.

Archaeologists have identified objects in the Ukraine, which confirm Herodotus’s account:

The archaeological record indicates that the Cimmerians, nomadic horsemen like the Scythians, did live in this area in the eighth to the first half of the seventh centuries B.C. . . . The Cimmerians indeed do appear to have been expelled from the region by the Scythians around the middle of the seventh century B.C., as reported by Herodotus (4.11–12), Strabo. . . .20


The Cimmerians may be associated with biblical Gomer (Gen. 10:2–3; Ezek. 38:6). They were known in Akkadian as Gimmiraia and in Greek as Kimmerioi.21 They went westward into Asia Minor (Turkey), while the Scythians proceeded southward into Median territory (in northwestern Iran). In central Anatolia about 675 B.C., they devastated the city of Gordium, the capital of the legendary Midas, an event corroborated by Assyrian sources, who called him Mita.

They then in 644 B.C. attacked Sardis, the capital of the Lydian king Gyges, who is credited with the invention of coinage. They attacked the Ionian Greek cities on the west coast of Turkey, including Ephesus, Smyrna, and Magnesia on the Maeander. In doing so, the Cimmerians would have passed close to the site of Colossae in the valley of the Lycus River, which feeds into the Maeander.22

Scythians and Assyrians

Though Assyrian texts do not mention the Scythians until late in the eighth century B.C., a relief from the reign of Ashurnasirpal II (883–859 B.C.) depicts mounted warriors who are shooting arrows backward—a skill perfected by Scythian horsemen. The first reference to the Ishkuza is found in the texts of Sargon II (721–705 B.C.). The most important references come from the reign of Esarhaddon (680–669 B.C.). A Scythian chief named Bartatua (the Protothyes of Her. 1.103) demanded an Assyrian princess in marriage as the price of an alliance.

Scythians and Medes

In 612 B.C., the Assyrians were overthrown by a coalition of Medes,23 an Indo-European tribe who had settled in the northern Zagros Mountains, and the Chaldeans, who occupied southern Mesopotamia. The report of Herodotus (4:1), that the Scythians had dominated “the upper country of Asia for twenty-eight years” at the time Median kings were in power in the region, has raised problems for scholars.

A number of suggestions have been offered that can accommodate the presence of Scythians in the region before they were expelled by the Median king Cyaxares.24 The Scythians then went back over the Caucasus to settle on the northern shores of the Ukraine, especially along the lower reaches of the Dnieper River and the Crimean peninsula.

Scythians and Persians

The Persian king Darius II (522–486 B.C.)25 invaded the area of European Scythia by crossing the Bosporus at the western end of the Black Sea in the year 514 B.C. Though some of the details of his account have been contested,26 his general account has been corroborated by the discovery of Persian inscriptions in the area of Thrace (Bulgaria) and Dacia (Romania).27 Darius was frustrated by the Scythians’ refusal to fight a pitched battle. After the Persian retreat, the Scythians attacked some of the Greek settlements north of the Black Sea.28

Arrowheads found at the battle of Marathon, where a Persian force sent by Darius in 490 B.C. was defeated by the Greeks, may have come from Scythians serving under the Persians. Some of the eastern Scythians, called the Sakai by the Persians, served as a contingent in the vast army of Xerxes when he invaded Greece in 480 B.C. (Her. 7.64). Mounted Sakai archers fought at the battle of Plataea in 479 B.C.

Scythians and Greeks

The Greeks first encountered Scythians when they established colonies on the northern shore of the Black Sea in the sixth century B.C. There are more than four hundred representations of Scythian archers on black-figured vases dating between 530 and 490 B.C. M. E. Vos believes that it was probably Peisistratus (who reigned 546–527 B.C.) who recruited Thracian and Scythian mercenaries to help him establish his tyranny in Athens.29

In the mid-fifth century B.C., a corps of about three hundred Scythian bowmen, clad in their exotic peaked hats and decorated trousers, served as state policemen in Athens.30 Because of their appearance and their broken Greek, they were made the butt of jokes by Aristophanes, for example, in his play, Thesmophorizae.31 In the fourth century B.C., the Scythians established a fortified city by the lower Dnieper. In this period, Scythian power extended as far west as the Danube under king Atheas, but was abruptly halted when the aged king was killed by Philip, the father of Alexander, in 331 B.C. There is a gap in our archaeological evidence between the period of the Steppe Scythians (7th–4th c. B.C.) and the rise of the Late Scythian culture (2nd c. B.C.–3rd c. A.D.).32

Scythians and Sarmatians33

In the mid-third century B.C., another nomadic tribe, the Sarmatians, who had lived to the east of the Scythians, began to overpower them. The typical burial mounds of the Scythians were displaced by Sarmatian tombs. This development can be traced most dramatically by recent excavations at the most important fortified settlement of the Scythians, the city of Neapolis, located near modern Simferopol in the Crimea. By the first century A.D., the Sarmatians had occupied Neapolis, resulting in a sharp decline in material culture. Various groups of Scythians and Sarmatians continued to be engaged in raiding and warring with their neighbors, such as the kingdoms of Pontus and of Bosphorus, until the second century A.D.

Scythian culture

Anacharsis and Scyles

Herodotus relates the example of two exceptional Scythians who adopted Greek culture—but to their own peril. Anacharsis (6th c. B.C.) had been sent by the king of Scythia to learn the ways of Hellas (Her. 4.77). He was later numbered by the Greeks among the Seven Sages.34 Lucian uses Anacharsis, in a dialogue with the famous Athenian archon Solon, to question the Greek enthusiasm for athletics.

But the Hellenized Anacharsis was repudiated by the Scythians (Her. 4.76). Josephus (Contra Apionem 2.269) recounts, “Anacharsis, whose wisdom won the admiration of the Greeks, was on his return put to death by his compatriots, because he appeared to have come back infected with Greek habits.”

Herodotus (4.78) also relates the story of Scyles, the son of the Scythian king Ariapithes and a Greek woman. When Scyles (5th c. B.C.) became king, he brought his army outside the Greek city of Olbia and entered the city, where he had a second home, living there for a month at a time as a Greek. But, when this was discovered, his brother beheaded him.

Alcohol and hemp

Many of the customs of the Scythians struck the Greeks as bizarre. For example, Herodotus (4.84) reports that the Scythians drank their wine neat, that is, undiluted with water, contrary to the custom among the Greeks, who diluted their wine with water in large kraters. According to Athenaeus (Deipnosophistae 11.499), “the Scythians are in the habit of drinking to great excess” and “to get drunk is to behave like a Scythian.” Francois Hartog comments, “So to drink wine is the mark of a civilized man, but to drink wine undiluted is the mark of a savage and represents a transgression.”35

The drinking of blood and alcohol sealed a special “blood brotherhood,” as described in classical sources such as Herodotus (7.4). Lucian’s Scythian Toxaris explains, “For, once we have cut our fingers, let the blood drip into a cup, dipped our swordpoints into it, and then, both at once, have set it to our lips and drunk, there is nothing thereafter that can dissolve the bond between us.” This rite is depicted in several gold plaques.36

Herodotus (4.74–75) reported that the Scythians entered a tent-like structure and placed hemp seeds on red hot stones, which then produced fumes. He noted, “The Scythians howl in their joy at the vapour-bath”—as we would now say, they were getting high on pot! Discoveries at the frozen tombs at Pazyryk have dramatically confirmed the details of Herodotus’ account, including frames for a tent, a bronze cauldron, and hemp seeds.37

Bows and arrows

The Scythians used short, powerful composite bows.38 They were ambidextrous and could shoot while riding horses, even turning backward to do so. Their distinctive trilobate (three-barbed) arrows were sometimes poisoned with either snake venom or hemlock. They invented a combination bow case and quiver called a gorytos.39 These could hold as many as two hundred arrows. Gorytoi richly decorated with gold overlays have been found, including one in a tomb at Vergina in Macedonia, which has been plausibly identified as the tomb of Philip, Alexander’s father.40

Women archers = Amazons?41

Herodotus (4.110) recounts how the Scythians encountered armed women Amazons, whom they called oiorpata or “mankiller.” He identified them as the Sauromatae (4.116–17). The story of the Amazons was associated in Greek myth with such heroes as Heracles, Theseus, and Achilles, and was depicted on countless painted vases.42

A number of Scythian tombs indicate that at least some of the Scythian women wore armor like the men and used weapons including the bow and arrow.43 The percentage of graves of armed women among the Sarmatians near the Lower Volga is strikingly higher than among the Scythian graves.44

Jeannine Davis-Kimball, excavating at Pokrovka in Kazakhstan, unearthed in 1994 the tomb of a young female warrior/priestess with about forty bronze arrowheads and an iron dagger.45

Scalps and skulls

There is no doubt that the practice that gave the Scythians their lasting reputation for savagery was their brutal treatment of their enemies. According to Herodotus (4.64), in the battlefield the Scythians would drink the blood of the first enemy they killed.46 Their practice of bringing the severed head of an enemy to their chiefs is depicted on an ornamented cup.

Herodotus also reported that the Scythians would scalp their victim and then use the scalp as a napkin! At times, they would flay the entire skin and use it or display it. The Greeks invented the word aposkythizein for the process of scalping.47 The Scythians would also take the top of the skull, decorate it, and use it as a drinking bowl (Her. 4.65).

That these are not simply wild tales has been proven by archaeological evidence. From the frozen tombs at Pazyryk, a warrior whose skin was tattooed had been scalped.48 From a recent excavation at a seventh- through sixth-century B.C. settlement at Bel’sk in the Ukraine, the excavations “have uncovered a skull-cup ‘workshop’ with several human skull-tops which had already been made into drinking bowls with handles made from temple bones.”49

Horse and human sacrifices

Scythian kings were buried in huge mounds, some as high as twenty meters, with a circumference of about one hundred meters. The bodies of the dead were mummified by extracting the internal organs and saturating the skin with pitch and wax.

Horses would be slain and their meat eaten at a great funeral banquet. At one tomb, the remains of thirty-five horses, fourteen wild boars, and two stags indicate that at least 1,300 people participated in the feast.50 In 1898, a tomb was found with as many as 360 slain horses.51

Herodotus (4.71–72) also describes how the king’s spouse and servants were also killed to accompany their lord to the next life. After a year, fifty of the king’s servants were mounted on fifty horses around the tomb and were also killed.52 In a survey of sixty-two Scythian tombs catalogued by Renate Rolle, there was evidence of human sacrifice in about a third of the tombs.53 In one tomb, seventeen mainly older retainers were buried.54 But, in another tomb, a young man was killed to serve as a protector for a young woman; he had his skull crushed.55

Robert Drews reports that “in the Arzhan Kurgan [300 miles east of Pazyryk], excavated between 1971 and 1974, the chieftain was buried with his consort and fifteen other human attendants, and the humans were sent to the underworld with at least 150 and possibly 160 riding horses.”56


Because six of the eight terms Paul uses in Colossians 3:11 can be understood as antithetical pairs, some scholars have sought to understand “barbarians, Scythians” as another antithesis. Three recent revisionist interpretations have appeared.

The non-Cynic barbarian versus the Cynic Scythian

Troy Martin, citing the letters of Pseudo-Anacharsis,57 offers a “Scythian perspective.”58 In contrast to the usual stereotype of the Scythians, Martin cites a passage in Strabo (7.3.7), which mentions the idea of the Scythian as a “noble savage,” unspoiled by Greco-Roman civilization. From the view of an Anacharsis, a barbarian would be anyone who is a non-Scythian. He cites the fourth-century B.C. playwright Menander, who upbraided popular prejudice against the Scythians by exclaiming, “A Scyth, you say? Pest! Anacharsis was a Scyth!”59 From a Cynic standpoint, the Scythians were the truly wise ones and the Greeks were the actual “barbarians.” Martin concludes, “The Colossian author . . . has abolished even the divisive Cynic categories of those who live according to nature as the Scythians and those who do not.”60

The free barbarian versus the slave Scythian

Douglas A. Campbell, who criticizes Martin’s proposal as implausible, 61 has offered his own solution. By noting that there are many references to Scythian slaves, and by discerning a chiasmic arrangement (an arrangement wherein the first and second halves mirror each other, like the Greek letter X, or chi), he understands that Scythian is related to the term “slave,” and that barbarian is related to the term “free.” He further speculates, “It would also follow in this scenario that Onesimus lies behind the ‘Scythian slave’. While Philemon would be the free barbarian, specifically a Phrygian.”62 The objection to his proposal would be that, while it may be conceded that the terms Scythian and slave were often linked, the terms “barbarian” and “free” were not.

The black barbarian versus the white Scythian

Building on the observation that Barbaria could occasionally designate an area in eastern Africa,63 and the recognition of the white Scythian versus black Ethiopian contrast as widely attested in classical texts and art,64 David M. Goldenberg has argued that the term “barbarian” should be understood as representing black races and the term Scythian as representing white races.65

Herodotus does not describe the Scythians’ physical appearance, but the pseudo-Hippocratic treatise, Airs, Waters, Places 20, asserted, “It is the cold that burns their white skin and turns it ruddy.” Galen described them as “ruddy,” tall, and slender. Indeed, the skeletons of many of the Scythian kings/chiefs were over six feet tall. Ptolemy in his Tetrabiblos writes:

They are white in complexion, straight-haired, tall and wellnourished, and somewhat cold by nature; these too are savage in their habits because their dwelling-places are continually cold. . . . We call these men, too, by a general name, Scythians.

Goldenberg concludes, “To summarize, we have seen that the Greco-Roman sources use ‘Scythian’ as a synonym for the distant northern peoples (Scythians, Sarmatians, Germans, Goths), and ‘Ethiopian’ for the distant southern peoples (black Africa), and that the paring of Scythian/Ethiopian is used as a figure of speech to denote geographic extremes and uncivilized behaviour.”66

The problem with Goldenberg’s solution is that barbaros is not the same as the place “Barbaria,” nor is skuthēs the same as the place Scythia; moreover, if Paul had wished to make such a contrast, he could well have used the term aithiops, the Greek term which literally meant “sun-burnt face” and which was used by the Greeks for dark- or black-skinned peoples, especially those south of Egypt.67

Goldenberg does make the insightful observation that Paul’s emphasis on the egalitarian view of all individuals in Christ regardless of their gender, race, culture, or status is consciously or unconsciously in sharp contrast with both Greek and Jewish views about the superiority of a free male. He cites Diogenes Laertius 1.33, who reported that Socrates used to say there were three blessings for which he was grateful to Fortune: “that I was born a human being and not an animal, a man and not a woman, a Greek and not a barbarian.” He also notes the daily prayer of Jews, who recited: “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, who has created me human and not animal, male and not female, Jew and not gentile [goy], circumcised and not uncircumcised, free and not slave.”68

The Scythians as savage barbarians

The assumption of all three of these new proposals is that, since six of the eight terms in Colossians 3:11 are exclusive antitheses, the terms “barbarian, Scythian” must also be somehow understood as antonyms. But, suppose that Paul, when writing or dictating his letter, was not overly concerned with consistency, but was moved with impassioned intensity at the wonderful promise of the Gospel? Indeed, the niv and other English translations obscure the actual succession of the final words by inserting an “or” in between “slave” and “free.” The Greek, after listing the first two pairs with the conjunction kai (literally “and”), then lists the next four words without a conjunction: “barbarian, Scythian, slave, free.”

From a rhetorical analysis, Campbell and other scholars have objected to the “pell-mell” order of the last succession of words,69 but, from an oratorical standpoint, such a torrent of words would have lent force to Paul’s affirmation.

In favor of the customary understanding of “Scythian” as implying a “savage” is the unanimous testimony of Jewish texts such as 2 Maccabees 4:47; 3 Maccabees 7:6; 4 Maccabees 10:7; Philo, Legat. 10; and Josephus, Contra Apion 2.269. The church fathers also seemed to understand the word in this sense. Modern missionaries, such as the five who were massacred by the Aucas70 in Ecuador in 1956, have been inspired to hazard their lives with the promise that even the most murderous savages when won to Christ will one day stand among the many tribes and nations in heaven.71

Of particular interest to Priscilla Papers readers, another implication, as Goldenberg notes, is that Paul’s egalitarian view of the unity of all believers in Christ frees the church from the racial, gender, social, and cultural prejudice of the superiority of free males. A multicultural Christian church today wherein believers of all races and both genders are free to serve Christ fully is the application of Paul’s teaching in Colossians 3:11 set alongside Galatians 3:28.


  1. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scriptural citations will be taken from the NIV (New International Version). All classical citations will be taken from the LCL (Loeb Classical Library), and all patristic citations will be taken from the ANF (Ante-Nicene Fathers series reprinted by Eerdmans).
  2. The majority of English versions simply transliterate the Greek skuthēs (Skuvqhß): these include the Douay-Confraternity Edition, jb , kjv, nab , neb, niv, nrsv, rsv, and translations by J. Edgar Goodspeed, Hugh Schonfield, Gerrit Verkuyl, and Charles Wilson. The older foreign translations including the Vulgate, French, German, Italian, and Russian versions also transliterate the name.
  3. The Amplified New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1958).
  4. The Letters of St. Paul, trans. Arthurs S. Way (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1950).
  5. Eugene H. Peterson, The Message (Colorado Springs, Colo.: Nav Press, 1993).
  6. New Living Translation (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House, 1996).
  7. The New Translation (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House, 1990).
  8. J. B. Phillips, The New Testament in Modern English (London: Collins, 1972).
  9. For example, whereas La Sacra Bibbia (Roma: Societa Biblica Britannica e Forestiera, 1953) has “barbaro e Scita,” the Parola del Signore (Roma: Alleanza Biblica Universale, 1976) renders the words “barbari o selvaggi.” Similarly Bonnes Nouvelles Aujourd’hui (n.p.: Les Societes bibliques, 1974) “non-civilises, primitifs”; Dios Habla Hoy (Nueva York: Sociedad Biblica Americana, 1983) “extranjero, inculto.” Wycliffe Bible Translators Howard and Deidre Shelden for their translation into Galela (Maluku, Indonesia) rendered barbaros as “people from-somewhereelse” (that is, foreigners) and skuthēs as “people whose law you-don’tknow” (implying uncivilized folk).
  10. A wealth of untranslated Greek and Latin passages are listed by J. B. Lightfoot, Saint Paul’s Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, reprint of the 1879 edition), 217–19; see O. Michel, “Skuvqhß,” TDNT, 7.448; Karen S. Rubinson, “Scythians,” ABD, 5.1056–57.
  11. E. Lohse, Colossians and Philemon (Philadelphia, Pa.: Fortress, 1971), 144.
  12. Peter T. O’Brien, Colossians, Philemon (Waco, Tex.: Word Books, 1982), 193.
  13. By a curious development in the Middle Ages, the word Ashkenaz came to designate the Jews from the Rhine Valley as opposed to those from Sepharad (a Hebrew word found in Obadiah 20, which originally meant Sardis in Asia Minor), which came to designate Jews from Spain.
  14. See A. Malamat, “The Historical Setting of Two Biblical Prophecies on the Nations,” Israel Exploration Journal 1 (1950/51): 149–59; A. L. Oppenheim, “Scythians,” Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Supplementary Volume, 252. For the majority view, which questions the identification, see A. R. Millard, “Scythians,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 4.364–66.
  15. See E. Yamauchi, Foes from the Northern Frontier (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 1982; Eugene, Ore.: Wipf & Stock, 2003 reprint edition).
  1. Anne K. G. Christensen, Who Were the Cimmerians, and Where Did They Come From? (Copenhagen: Munksgaard, 1988).
  2. E. Yamauchi, “Herodotus,” Anchor Bible Dictionary, 3.180–81; idem, “Herodotus—Historian or Liar,” in Crossing Boundaries and Linking Horizons, ed. G. D. Young, M. W. Chavalas, and R. E. Averbeck (Bethesda, Md.: CDL Press, 1997), 599–614.
  3. Juri Vinogradov, Olbia: Geschichte einer altgriechischen Stadt am Schwarzen Meer (Constance: Universitatsverlag Konstanz, 1981).
  4. K. S. Rubinson, “Herodotus and the Scythians,” Expedition 17 (Summer 1975): 16–20; E. Yamauchi, “The Scythians: Invading Hordes from the Russian Steppes,” Biblical Archaeologist 46 (1983): 90–99.
  5. Ellen D. Reeder, ed., Scythian Gold: Treasures from Ancient Ukraine (New York, N.Y.: Harry N. Abrams, 1999), 25.
  6. See Yamauchi, Foes, ch. 3, “Cimmerians.”
  7. The site of Colossae has been surveyed, but has as yet not been excavated. See E. Yamauchi, New Testament Cities in Western Asia Minor (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 1980; Eugene, Ore.: Wipf and Stock, 2003 reprint edition), ch. 12, “Colossae.” See Andrew L. Bennett, “Archaeology from Art: Investigating Colossae . . .” Near East Archaeological Society Bulletin 50 (2005): 15–26.
  8. See E. Yamauchi, Persia and the Bible (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 1990), ch. 1, “The Medes.”
  9. See Yamauchi, Foes, 78–80; J. A. Scurlock, “Herodotos’ Median Chronology Again?! (sun ‘including’ or ‘excluding’),” Iranica Antiqua 25 (1990): 149–63.
  10. See Yamauchi, Persia and the Bible, ch. 4, “Darius.”
  11. See A. Sh. Shahbazi, “Darius in Scythia and Scythians in Persepolis,” Archäologische Mitteilungen aus Iran 15 (1982): 189–235; Thomas J. Nowak, “Darius’ Invasion into Scythia: Geographical and Logistical Perspectives,” (unpublished M.A. thesis; Oxford, Ohio: Miami University, 1988).
  12. J. Harmatta, “Herodotus, Historian of the Cimmerians and the Scythians,” in Hérodote et les peuples non grecs, ed. O. Reverdin and B. Grange (Geneva: Vandoeuvres, 1990), 121.
  13. J. R. Gardiner-Garden, “Dareios’ Scythian Expedition and Its Aftermath,” Klio 69 (1987): 326–50.
  14. M. F. Vos, Scythian Archers in Archaic Attic Vase Painting (Groningen: J. B. Wolters, 1963). Her view has been contested by B. M. Lavelle, “Herodotos, Skythian Archers, and the doryphoroi of the Peisistratids,” Klio 74 (1992): 78–97.
  15. H. A. Shapiro, “Amazons, Thracians, and Scythians,” Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 24 (1983): 105–14.
  16. V. Ehrenberg, The People of Aristophanes (New York, N.Y.: Schocken, 1962), 175.
  17. Yurij P. Zaytsev, The Scythian Neapolis (2nd century BC to 3rd century AD) (Oxford: British Archaeological Reports, 2004), 36.
  18. See T. Sulimirski, The Sarmatians (London: Thames and Hudson, 1970).
  19. Jan Fredrik Kindstrand, Anacharsis: The Legend and the Apophthegmata (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1981).
  20. Francois Hartog, The Mirror of Herodotus (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1988), 169.
  21. Reeder, Scythian Gold, 149.
  22. See Sergei I. Rudenko, Frozen Tombs of Siberia: The Pazyryk Burials of Iron Age Horsemen (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1970).
  23. Reeder, Scythian Gold, 116.
  24. Reeder, Scythian Gold, 71.
  25. M. Andronikos, “The Royal Tombs at Aigai (Vergina),” in Philip of Macedon, ed. M. B. and L. D. Hatzopoulos (Athens: Ekdotike Athenon, 1980), 202, 218–21.
  26. The word amazon meant “without a breast” from the tale that Amazonian girls had their right breast cut off to make them better archers as reported in Pseudo-Hippocrates, Airs, Waters, Places, 17.
  27. Shapiro, “Amazons, Thracians, Scythians.”
  28. Rolle, The World of the Scythians, 87–88.
  29. Rolle, The World of the Scythians, 88–89.
  30. Jeannine Davis-Kimball, Warrior Women (New York: Warner Books, 2002), 56–57.
  31. Rolle, The World of the Scythians, 82.
  32. Rolle, The World of the Scythians, 82.
  33. Rolle, The World of the Scythians, 83.
  34. Rolle, The World of the Scythians, 83.
  35. Rolle, The World of the Scythians, 34.
  36. Rolle, The World of the Scythians, 35. The sacrifice of horses was practiced by the Cushite XXVth Dynasty of Egypt. See E. Yamauchi, Africa and the Bible (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 2004), 116–17.
  37. Evidence of such human sacrifice at the death of a ruler was discovered by Leonard Woolley at the famous tombs he uncovered at Ur, where, in one of the royal tombs, he found six men and sixty-eight women servants. See C. L. Woolley, Ur of the Chaldees (New York, N.Y.: Norton, 1965), 58. More than 300 retainers were buried with the Nubian king at Kerma in the Sudan. See Yamauchi, Africa and the Bible, 72–73.
  38. Renate Rolle, Totenkult der Skythen (Berlin: DeGruyter, 1979).
  39. Rolle, Totenkult der Skythen, 44.
  40. Rolle, Totenkult der Skythen, 24.
  41. Robert Drews, Early Riders (New York, N.Y.: Routledge, 2004), 74–75.
  42. Abraham J. Malherbe, ed., The Cynic Epistles: A Study Edition (Atlanta, Ga.: Scholars Press, 1977). These letters are dated to the 3rd c. B.C.
  43. Troy Martin, “The Scythian Perspective in Col 3:11,” Novum Testamentum 37 (1995): 249–61; cf. idem, “By Philosophy and Empty Deceit”: Colossians as Response to a Cynic Critique (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996).
  44. Frank M. Snowden, Jr., Blacks in Antiquity (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1970), 197, speculated that “If Paul was acquainted with Menander, and it does not seem unlikely, his celebrated pronouncement on oneness in Christ [in Col. 3:11] may have been an adaptation of Menander’s statement of the inconsequence of race.” He was apparently not aware that in 1 Cor. 15:33 Paul quotes from Menander’s Thais.
  45. Martin, “The Scythian Perspective,” 259.
  46. Douglas A. Campbell, “The Scythian Perspective in Col 3:11: A Response to Troy Martin,” Novum Testamentum 39 (1997): 81–84.
  47. Douglas A. Campbell, “Unravelling Col. 3:11b,” New Testament Studies 42 (1996): 132 n. 39.
  48. Note that the indigenous inhabitants of North Africa were called Berbers, peoples who still persist in the interior of Morocco and Algeria. See Reuben G. Bullard, “The Berbers of the Maghreb and Ancient Carthage,” in Africa and Africans in Antiquity, ed. Edwin M. Yamauchi (E. Lansing, Mich.: Michigan State University Press, 2001), 180–209.
  49. According to Snowden, Blacks in Antiquity, 171, “It is most frequently the Scythian whom the Greek, and later the Roman, cited, together with the Ethiopian, in numerous examples of distinctly un-Greek and un-Roman physical types.”
  50. David M. Goldenberg, “Scythian-Barbarian: The Permutations of a Classical Topos in Jewish and Christian Texts of Late Antiquity,” Journal of Jewish Studies 49 (1998): 87–102.
  51. Goldenberg, “Scythian-Barbarian,” 97; cf. David M. Goldenberg, The Curse of Ham (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2003), 23, 43, 45.
  52. Just as feminist scholars have called attention to the ignored presence of women in the Bible, Afrocentric scholars have called attention to the neglected presence of blacks in the Bible such as Moses’ Cushite wife, Tirhakah, Ebed-melech, etc. However, extreme Afrocentric claims that all the people in the Bible are black undercuts their credibility. See my Africa and the Bible.
  53. Goldenberg, “Scythian-Barbarian,” 100–01.
  54. Campbell, “Unravelling Col. 3:11b,” 122.
  55. The word “Auca” means “savage” in Quechua, the name given to the Waorani Indians by the Ecuadorians.
  56. Elisabeth Elliot, The Savage My Kinsman (New York, N.Y.: Harper, 1961); Steve Saint, End of the Spear (Carol Stream, Ill.: Tyndale House, 2005).


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