Last Reviewed on March 5, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 374
Black Athena Revisited, edited by Mary R. Lefkowitz, is a collection of essays that form a holistic rebuttal against Martin Bernal's controversial book Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization. The collection of twenty essays (as well as introduction and closing statements) is written by a group of scholars from a diverse range of fields: Egyptology, Greek history, linguistics, art history, and others. The point of the volume is to create a united front against Martin Bernal's theories regarding the mainstream presentation of Greek history and mythology.
The collection of scholars included in the book believe that Bernal's theories are not only misinformed but could also be dangerous because the general readership may accept them as facts. Indeed, Bernal's theories gained traction among Afrocentrists and other scholars whose theories aligned with his own.
Black Athena Revisited points out multiple inconsistencies, inaccuracies, and flaws in logic and methodology in Bernal's work. For instance, one of the responses contained in the collection opines that Bernal had misinterpreted certain Greek mythological stories and therefore came to an incorrect conclusion about the actual history of Greece.
In essence, the essay posits that Bernal was trying to connect scattered pieces of information, many of which are regarded as dubiously reliable, into a cohesive argument. One of the rebuttals against Bernal's method also criticizes his mishandling of a wide range of topics, many of which Bernal had no expertise in. One of the suggestions made in the book by a scholar is for Bernal to consult with experts in the fields he is covering. This would eliminate many of the inconsistencies in logic and inaccuracies of information that pervade the original Black Athena.
However, one of the Bernal's original arguments is that mainstream academia (represented by the essayists in Black Athena Revisited) whitewashed Greek and Near East history due to Eurocentric biases; therefore, consulting with experts in the field would be contradictory to Bernal's own objectives.
The arguments in Black Athena Revisited are strong, and they derive their strength from documented facts. However, there are also some instances of subtle personal attacks on Bernal's credentials and career, which make some of the rebuttals seem like petty retributions disguised as counter-arguments, having no real relevance to critiquing Bernal's work itself.