A unique study of how the Bible "constructs" African Americans and how African Americans "construct" the bibleFrom literature and the arts to popular culture and everyday life, the Bible courses through black society and culture. Despite the enormous recent surge of interest in African American religion, scant attention has been paid to the diversity of ways in which African Americans have utilized the Bible. African Americans and the Bible is the fruit of a four-year collaborative research project directed by Vincent L. Wimbush and funded by the Lilly Endowment. It brings together scholars and experts (sixty-eight in all) from a wide range of academic and artistic fields and disciplines-including ethnography, cultural history, and biblical studies and also music, film, dance, drama, and literature. The book is less about the meaning(s) of the Bible than about the Bible and meaning(s), less about the world(s) of the Bible than about how worlds and the Bible interact-in short, about how a text constructs a people and a people construct a text. It is about a particular socio-cultural formation but also about the dynamics that occur in the interrelation between any group of people and sacred texts in general. African Americans and the Bible offers a critical lens through which the process of socio-cultural formation can be viewed.
With 900+ pages and a hefty price tag, this work will be severely limited in its general availability. And that's a shame. The 63 essays collected here represent some of the finest scholarship available on the question of the social and cultural experiences of African Americans and the Bible. Wimbush (New Testament and Christian Origins, Union Theological Seminary) introduces this herculean effort with his particular perspective: this book is about "dark peoples reading the world darkly." That is, the enigma of human existence, read through the experience of blackness, illuminates the self brought to the reading and, ultimately, the interpretation taken away. Leading scholars in biblical interpretation--anthropologists, Hebraisists, feminists, Islamacists, historians, and Rastafarians--add to the multicultural voices that fall under the rubric of "reading the world darkly" and, as such, make this well-documented, thoroughly researched work a resounding success. Highly recommended.--Sandra Collins, Duquesne Univ., Pittsburgh, PA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Scholars from such fields as ethnography, cultural history, biblical studies, art, music, film, dance, drama and literature explore the interaction between the people known as African Americans and the complex of visions, rhetoric, and ideologies known as the Bible. Filling in an area of African-American studies that has received little attention, they consider how a text constructs a people at the same time as the people construct the text. Among the 63 topics are the role of the Bible and other sacred texts in African-American denominations and sects, Afro-Latinos, the Joseph story as slave narrative, the virtues of brotherhood and sisterhood, and the adventures of a black child in search of her god. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Vincent L. Wimbush is Professor of Religion at Claremont Graduate University. He is the author of Paul the Worldly Ascetic; editor of Ascetic Behavior in Greco-Roman Antiquity: A Sourcebook; Discursive Formations, Ascetic Piety, and The Interpretation of Early Christian Literature; and co-editor of Asceticism.