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Race: A Theological Account

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Overview


In Race: A Theological Account, J. Kameron Carter meditates on the multiple legacies implicated in the production of a racialized world and that still mark how we function in it and think about ourselves. These are the legacies of colonialism and empire, political theories of the state, anthropological theories of the human, and philosophy itself, from the eighteenth-century Enlightenment to the present.

Carter's claim is that Christian theology, and the signal transformation it (along with Christianity) underwent, is at the heart of these legacies. In that transformation, Christian anti-Judaism biologized itself so as to racialize itself. As a result, and with the legitimation of Christian theology, Christianity became the cultural property of the West, the religious ground of white supremacy and global hegemony. In short, Christianity became white. The racial imagination is thus a particular kind of theological problem.

Not content only to describe this problem, Carter constructs a way forward for Christian theology. Through engagement with figures as disparate in outlook and as varied across the historical landscape as Immanuel Kant, Frederick Douglass, Jarena Lee, Michel Foucault, Cornel West, Albert Raboteau, Charles Long, James Cone, Irenaeus of Lyons, Gregory of Nyssa, and Maximus the Confessor, Carter reorients the whole of Christian theology, bringing it into the twenty-first century.

Neither a simple reiteration of Black Theology nor another expression of the new theological orthodoxies, this groundbreaking book will be a major contribution to contemporary Christian theology, with ramifications in other areas of the humanities.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"An intellectual tour de force! This book demonstrates great intellectual range and theological imagination; it should be read by all students of theology, religious studies and African American religion and history. I have nothing but praise for this work by a young African American scholar who must be reckoned with." --James H. Cone, Charles Augustus Briggs Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology, Union Theological Seminary

"Jay Kameron Carter has written an extraordinarily insightful and sophisticated analysis of race as it has been constructed in modern philosophy and theology. His study reconceptualizes modernity and demonstrates the centrality of religion to any understanding of racism." --Susannah Heschel, Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College

"Carter's endeavor to lift up the principle of love as both theological and moral virtue has important implications for theological and ethical discourse in teh 21st century. ...[A] great book by any standard. Its breadth adn depth are impressive beyond measure." --Christian Century

"J. Kameron Carter's Race: A Theological Account breaks new ground in contemporary theology... Carter's book has already spurred a rush of interest in Christology and race in many different theological circles. Because of its provocation, its clarity, and its comprehensiveness, Race: A Theological Account will be a seminal text in Christian theological discourse for many years to come." --Books & Culture

"This is an amazing book: in scope, scholarship, audacity, and significance. Carter takes on no less than the enitre Western philosophical, political and theological tradition in offering a Christian analysis of race, religion, and their critically bodied intersections. Painstakingly unfolding a thesis as simple as it is breathtaking, Carter shows how supersessionism finds its final resting place in modernity's hegemony of whiteness." --Religious Studies Review

"This text should be read and dealt with by all scholars of religion and all those working in the church in the United States. It is a remarkable text that simultaneously challenges current theological thinking while also reorienting the way that the church should form its practice. Thus, Carter accomplishes that rare task of being a theologian while also saying something that changes the way people should practice Christianity." --Anglican Theological Review

"This book marks a new beginning for contemporary theology and for theological engagement with the problem of race. Carter's thesis is simple: the modern construction of race or the rise of homo racialis ("the human being is a bearer of race") is fundamentally the result of a theological error for which the only antidote is a theological response. The implications of this elegant thesis are far-reaching and wide-ranging." --Pneuma

"This is more than an important book, because it lays the ground for an entirely new way of both conceiving and doing theology in the twenty-first century. It could not come at a more urgent and timely moment, for we live in a time when fundamentalism is on the rise...[I]t is heartening and inspiring to study the work of the young and superb African American theologian J. Kameron Carter...The author has presented a most generous book: one equally as abundant in critique as it is in inspiring and constructive vision. Undergraduates, post-graduates, researchers, and teachers would do well to realize how indispensible this book is for a true renaissance of knowledge and learning in the twenty-first century." --Journal of Religion

From the Publisher
"An intellectual tour de force! This book demonstrates great intellectual range and theological imagination; it should be read by all students of theology, religious studies and African American religion and history. I have nothing but praise for this work by a young African American scholar who must be reckoned with." —James H. Cone, Charles Augustus Briggs Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology, Union Theological Seminary

"Jay Kameron Carter has written an extraordinarily insightful and sophisticated analysis of race as it has been constructed in modern philosophy and theology. His study reconceptualizes modernity and demonstrates the centrality of religion to any understanding of racism." —Susannah Heschel, Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College

"Carter's endeavor to lift up the principle of love as both theological and moral virtue has important implications for theological and ethical discourse in teh 21st century. ...[A] great book by any standard. Its breadth adn depth are impressive beyond measure." —Christian Century

"J. Kameron Carter's Race: A Theological Account breaks new ground in contemporary theology... Carter's book has already spurred a rush of interest in Christology and race in many different theological circles. Because of its provocation, its clarity, and its comprehensiveness, Race: A Theological Account will be a seminal text in Christian theological discourse for many years to come." —Books & Culture

"This is an amazing book: in scope, scholarship, audacity, and significance. Carter takes on no less than the enitre Western philosophical, political and theological tradition in offering a Christian analysis of race, religion, and their critically bodied intersections. Painstakingly unfolding a thesis as simple as it is breathtaking, Carter shows how supersessionism finds its final resting place in modernity's hegemony of whiteness." —Religious Studies Review

"This text should be read and dealt with by all scholars of religion and all those working in the church in the United States. It is a remarkable text that simultaneously challenges current theological thinking while also reorienting the way that the church should form its practice. Thus, Carter accomplishes that rare task of being a theologian while also saying something that changes the way people should practice Christianity." —Anglican Theological Review

"This book marks a new beginning for contemporary theology and for theological engagement with the problem of race. Carter's thesis is simple: the modern construction of race or the rise of homo racialis ("the human being is a bearer of race") is fundamentally the result of a theological error for which the only antidote is a theological response. The implications of this elegant thesis are far-reaching and wide-ranging." —Pneuma

"This is more than an important book, because it lays the ground for an entirely new way of both conceiving and doing theology in the twenty-first century. It could not come at a more urgent and timely moment, for we live in a time when fundamentalism is on the rise...[I]t is heartening and inspiring to study the work of the young and superb African American theologian J. Kameron Carter...The author has presented a most generous book: one equally as abundant in critique as it is in inspiring and constructive vision. Undergraduates, post-graduates, researchers, and teachers would do well to realize how indispensible this book is for a true renaissance of knowledge and learning in the twenty-first century." —Journal of Religion

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195152791
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 9/2/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 504
  • Sales rank: 378,198
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

J. Kameron Carter is Associate Professor of Theology & Black Church Studies at Duke University Divinity School.

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Table of Contents

Prologue: The Argument at a Glance 3

Prelude on Christology and Race: Irenaeus as Anti-Gnostic Intellectual 11

Pt. I Dramatizing Race: A Theological Account of Modernity

1 The Drama of Race: Toward a Theological Account of Modernity 39

2 The Great Drama of Religion: Modernity, the Jews, and the Theopolitics of Race 79

Pt. II Engaging Race: The Field of African American Religious Studies

3 Historicizing Race: Albert J. Raboteau, Religious History, and the Ambiguities of Blackness 125

4 Theologizing Race: James H. Cone, Liberation, and the Theological Meaning of Blackness 157

5 Signifying Race: Charles H. Long and the Opacity of Blackness 195

Interlude on Christology and Race: Gregory of Nyssa as Abolitionist Intellectual 229

Pt. III Redirecting Race: Outlines of a Theological Program

6 The Birth of Christ: A Theological Reading of Briton Hammon's 1760 Narrative 255

7 The Death of Christ: A Theological Reading of Frederick Douglass's 1845 Narrative 285

8 The Spirit of Christ: A Theological Reading of the Writings of Jarena Lee 313

Postlude on Christology and Race: Maximus the Confessor as Anticolonialist Intellectual 343

Epilogue: The Discourse of Theology in the Twenty-First Century 371

Notes 381

Index 469

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