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Bible and African Americans (Facets)

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0800635749
ISBN-10: 0800635744
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Wimbush is professor of New Testatment and Christian Origins at Union Theological Seminary, New York.

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Product Details

  • Series: Facets
  • Paperback: 110 pages
  • Publisher: Fortress Press (January 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0800635744
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800635749
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.2 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #330,703 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Vincent Wimbush provides a history of African American interaction with the Bible in his book The Bible and African Americans. He uses a metaphor of a circle to discuss the various "readings" of the text throughout history.

The first reading is where African sensibilities cause Africans to look at the book with ambivalence. The second reading incorporates the period of the Negro Spirituals in slavery and emphasizes how Africans took on the Bible as a world to live in that allowed Africans in America to communicate with one another when all of their language and world was removed from them. The third reading is called by Wimbush "establishing the circle." Here is the period of activism against slavery where the African American readers used the scripture to find liberation as God's purpose. This is the reading of the establishment of the churches like Black Baptists and Black Methodists. The fourth reading is called by Wimbush "reshaping the circle" which is taking the circumstances of urban African American life and using it to interpret the Bible. In this "reading" we see such diverse groups as Father Divine's, the Nation of Islam, and even the Pentecostal movement.

The fifth reading is a Fundamentalist reading called "stepping outside the circle." In this reading some African Americans buy into the interpretive framework of hermeneutics independent and of race. In this it is a distinct break from all the other readings that took African American life as its point of departure. The Bible is seen as racially neutral and universal. The sixth reading is an addition of the women's reading and thus "makes the circle true."

This book is very valuable in providing a scheme for looking at how the Bible is operating in an African American sermon.
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Format: Paperback
The Bible and African Americans: A Brief History. A Review

Wimbush's basic purpose is to sketch "how African American engagement with the Bible can best understood over its many centuries and radically diverse circumstances" (ix). The book is divided in six short readings or chapters. The term "readings" is consistent with the content of the book. By consequence, this volume revolves around six major ways (or "phases") in which African Americans have engaged with Scriptural interpretation during slavery up to the modern era. African Americans' interaction with the Bible has been shaped by the dynamics of social-cultural, economic, political-educational, yet religious conditions of the African American community. The gist of the book is so "provide the framework for a different kind of interpretive history of African Americans--based not on great individuals or prestigious institutions , but on the people's interpretations or sensibilities and orientations as evidenced in their engagements with the most important, most accessible, and most influential text in our culture" (9-10).

To help us get a good grasp of the subject matter, Wimbush presents the issue in a convenient manner by bringing our attention to the Sitz im Leben which gave birth, shaped and structured such phenomenon to occur. It was a setting that "was understood to be partly biblically inspired, violently secured "New World"--the "New Israel" that would become the United States -the Bible was the single most important centering object for social identity and orientation among European dominants," Wimbush observes (4). In other words, the issues of social location and interpretation are invaluable resources. These have become criterion of authencity in the New World .
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