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Black Fire: One Hundred Years of African American Pentecostalism Paperback – May 3, 2011

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Black Fire: One Hundred Years of African American Pentecostalism + A History of Christianity in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, 1450-1990: A Documentary Sourcebook + The Story of Christianity, Vol. 2: The Reformation to the Present Day
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 406 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (May 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 083082586X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830825868
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #620,728 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This particular book is especially welcome. African American Pentecostals have become a major force in American (and world) Christianity, but there is a serious lack of well-documented studies. Estrelda Alexander does an excellent job filling that lamentable gap." (Mark Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame)

"Pentecostalism is one of the most vibrant and important developments in modern Christianity. In this welcome and much-needed book, Estrelda Y. Alexander demonstrates convincingly that this global work of the Spirit has to a large extent emerged from and continues to be fanned into flame by the African American community. Outsiders who think a few more controversial variations of 'black fire' sometimes look like 'strange fire' will be glad to learn that the African American church has able internal critics of its own outliers. Every Christian--indeed, everyone interested in the present and future of Christianity--needs to know this story." (Timothy Larsen, McManis Professor of Christian Thought, Wheaton College)

"Black Fire offers an expansive historical overview of African American Holiness-Pentecostals and their often overlooked contributions to the early development, dissemination and current vitality of the modern Pentecostal movement from its inception to the present. Students and scholars of African American religion and culture will appreciate its rich content, as well as its nuanced attention to matters of race, class, gender and generation." (Karen Kossie-Chernyshev, Ph.D., professor of history, Texas Southern University, Houston, Texas)

"Dr. Alexander has gathered the major, minor, profound and pedestrian aspects of African American Holiness-Pentecostalism in a volume that seeks to provide a Rosetta stone for scholars, students, denominational historians and the general public. She is clear to state that this work is an endearing labor of love to articulate her experience as an African American Pentecostal worshiper, scholar and minister. This volume is the seedbed of a crop of readable studies in African American Holiness-Pentecostal history, theology and culture. A worthy investment in understanding the why, who, what and how of a century-old community of denominations linked to the book of Acts and 312 Azusa Street. Kudos!" (Dr. Ida E. Jones, historian, Calvary Bible Institute and Moorland Spingarn Research Center, Howard University, Washington, D.C.)

About the Author

Estrelda Alexander (Ph.D., The Catholic University of America) is a visiting professor of theology in the School of Divinity at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and executive director of the William Seymour Educational Foundation.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By George P. Wood TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 8, 2011
Format: Paperback
Like many white American Pentecostals, I know very little about my African American co-religionists. I know about William Seymour and the Azusa Street Revival, of course. I am aware of the Church of God in Christ, which is the largest Pentecostal denomination in America. And as an Assemblies of God minister, I am familiar with my own denomination's struggle with racism. But beyond these items, my knowledge of black Pentecostalism is negligible.

Or, rather, was until Estrelda Y. Alexander's Black Fire introduced me to the rich history and spirituality of African American Pentecostals. I learned from her how Pentecostalism's characteristically exuberant worship drew on the rhythms of African spirituality. I learned the vital role the Holiness movement played in the formation of black Pentecostalism. Her chapter on William J. Seymour and the Azusa Street Revival is the best one-chapter summary of that pivotal moment in Pentecostal history I have read. I discovered how influential Oneness Pentecostalism is in the black community. I grew to appreciate the struggles my co-religionists have faced not only in predominantly white denominations but also in forming predominantly black denominations. And Alexander's book sensitized me to the double discrimination African American women faced in becoming leaders because of both their color and their sex.

I heartily recommend Black Fire to anyone interested in the history of American Pentecostalism. If you do not understand the vital role that African Americans have played both in leading this movement and in populating its churches and ministries, then you simply have not understood the movement. Alexander's book is thoroughly documented, contains two brief bibliographies (or primary and secondary sources), as well as name and subject indices. It is useful, therefore, to readers who want a one-volume introduction to the subject as well as to students who would like to do further research but are unsure where to start.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By kim ferguson on January 12, 2012
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Alexander providers the reader with a detailed history of both the influences and actions of African Americans during the first century of Pentecostalism. Her offering is thoughtful, thorough and insightful. It is also written in a way that everyone can understand the story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 11, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This anthology is excellent. The scholarly research and insights provided in an easy to read narrative style, makes this an asset to any personal library. this important piece of religious history is needed to piece together the experience of African Americans throughout the ages.
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This book was very good book for my thesis project. There was a mountain of information that I applied to my studies and a higher mountain of information I learnt. This is a great book for history or just plain wealth of knowledge. I recommend this book for history & Black history classes.
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