Slavery and Sacred Texts

The ensuing political debates over slavery deepened interpreters' emphasis on historical readings of the sacred texts, and in turn, these readings began to highlight the unbridgeable historical distances that separated nineteenth-century ...

Slavery and Sacred Texts

In the decades before the Civil War, Americans appealed to the nation's sacred religious and legal texts - the Bible and the Constitution - to address the slavery crisis. The ensuing political debates over slavery deepened interpreters' emphasis on historical readings of the sacred texts, and in turn, these readings began to highlight the unbridgeable historical distances that separated nineteenth-century Americans from biblical and founding pasts. While many Americans continued to adhere to a belief in the Bible's timeless teachings and the Constitution's enduring principles, some antislavery readers, including Theodore Parker, Frederick Douglass, and Abraham Lincoln, used historical distance to reinterpret and use the sacred texts as antislavery documents. By using the debate over American slavery as a case study, Jordan T. Watkins traces the development of American historical consciousness in antebellum America, showing how a growing emphasis on historical readings of the Bible and the Constitution gave rise to a sense of historical distance.

Slavery and Sacred Texts

In using historical arguments either to preserve the sacred texts and sanction slavery or to abolish both the texts and the institution, interpreters highlighted the temporal gap separating nineteenth-century Americans from their most ...

Slavery and Sacred Texts

An analysis of the development of historical consciousness in antebellum America, using the debate over slavery as a case study.

Slavery Sacred Texts and the Antebellum Confrontation with History

In the first six decades of the nineteenth century, America's biblical and constitutional interpreters waged their hermeneutical battles on historical grounds.

Slavery  Sacred Texts  and the Antebellum Confrontation with History

In the first six decades of the nineteenth century, America's biblical and constitutional interpreters waged their hermeneutical battles on historical grounds. Biblical scholars across the antebellum religious spectrum, from orthodox Charles Hodge's Calvinism to heterodox Theodore Parker's Transcendentalism, began to emphasize contextual readings. This development, fueled by an exposure to German biblical criticism and its emphasis on historical exegesis, sparked debate about the pertinence of biblical texts and the permanence of their teachings. In the 1830s, the resurfacing slavery issue increased the urgency to explore the biblical past for answers, which exposed differences between ancient and American slavery. Some still posited the persistence of the Bible as a whole and others rescued a Testament, a text or a teaching, but a few, including Parker, proved willing to let the old canon drift into the past. Slavery bound these arguments to another debate about a historical text from a more recent past. In the 1840s and 1850s, national observers in an expanding political culture focused their attention on the Constitution in hopes of resolving the growing crisis over the peculiar institution. The passing of the founding generation cultivated great interest in founding-era sources and antislavery readers began debating the interpretive importance of publications like Madison's papers (1840). The Fugitive Slave Law (1850), the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854), and the Dred Scott decision (1857) further nationalized the issue and put more pressure on constitutional interpreters, who, in turn, scrutinized the founding era for answers. From radical abolitionist Wendell Phillips to southern Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, readers aimed to recover and use the framers' intent to interpret the Constitution. The resulting historical explanations and narrations indicated that much had changed since ratification. Even when antislavery constitutionalists like William Goodell and Lysander Spooner rejected the emphasis on contextual interpretation, their accounts highlighted slavery's presence at the founding and traced the anachronistic rise of the Slave Power since that period. Some upheld the Constitution as a enduring national convention, others read it in light of the Declaration's egalitarian promises, and a few, including Parke, stood ready to dismiss it as outdated.

African Americans and the Bible

As such, 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 ...

African Americans and the Bible

Perhaps no other group of people has been as much formed by biblical texts and tropes as African Americans. From literature and the arts to popular culture and everyday life, the Bible courses through black society and culture like blood through veins. Despite the enormous recent interest in African American religion, relatively little attention has been paid to the diversity of ways in which African Americans have utilized the Bible.African Americans and the Bibleis 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 as well as art, music, film, dance, drama, and literature. The focus is on the interaction between the people known as African Americans and that complex of visions, rhetorics, and ideologies known as the Bible. As such, 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 constructs a text. It is about a particular sociocultural formation but also about the dynamics that obtain in the interrelation between any group of people and sacred texts in general. ThusAfrican Americans and the Bibleprovides an exemplum of sociocultural formation and a critical lens through which the process of sociocultural formation can be viewed.

Living the Intersection

5 Literature is replete with irreverent representations of sacred texts . My approach to the topic in this ... I am aware that the idea of slavery as sacred text creates something of a paradox , for sacred evokes ideas of the holy ...

Living the Intersection

Womanism and Afrocentrism are the two most influential currents in contemporary African American culture. Yet are the two compatible? Social ethicist Cheryl Sanders marshals some leading womanist thinkers to take the measure of the Afrocentric idea and to explore the intricate relationship between Afrocentric and womanist perspectives.

Beyond Slavery

Slaveholding societies have left their mark not only on the wording of sacred texts but also on the ways in which religious people interpret them. For most of history, Jews, Christians, and Muslims read these texts through ...

Beyond Slavery

This book looks at a United States that continues to be driven by racial and cultural divisions, from the disproportionately high number of incarcerated African Americans to heartfelt disagreements over the true nature of marriage and the proper role of faith in public policy.

Gender Violence Third Edition

But that requires taking an earnest look at the persistent effects of slavery on social values, religious thought, ... Slaveholding societies have left their mark not only on the wording of sacred texts but also on the ways in which ...

Gender Violence  Third Edition

An updated edition of the groundbreaking anthology that explores the proliferation of gendered violence From Harvey Weinstein to Brett Kavanaugh, accusations of gender violence saturate today’s headlines. In this fully revised edition of Gender Violence, Laura L. O’Toole, Jessica R. Schiffman, and Rosemary Sullivan bring together a new, interdisciplinary group of scholars, with up-to-date material on emerging issues like workplace harassment, transgender violence, intersectionality, and the #MeToo movement. Contributors provide a fresh, informed perspective on gender violence, in all of its various forms. With twenty-nine new contributors, and twelve original essays, the third edition now includes emerging contemporary issues such as LGBTQ violence, sex work, and toxic masculinity. A trailblazing text, Gender Violence, Third Edition is an essential read for students, activists, and others.

A Muslim American Slave

If there were one Qur'anic text that Abd al-Rahman would have remembered as refuting the rights of slave owners, ... “David Walker's Appeal represents a signal act of Afro-American misreading of [a] quasi-sacred American text, ...

A Muslim American Slave

Born to a wealthy family in West Africa around 1770, Omar Ibn Said was abducted and sold into slavery in the United States, where he came to the attention of a prominent North Carolina family after filling “the walls of his room with piteous petitions to be released, all written in the Arabic language,” as one local newspaper reported. Ibn Said soon became a local celebrity, and in 1831 he was asked to write his life story, producing the only known surviving American slave narrative written in Arabic. In A Muslim American Slave, scholar and translator Ala Alryyes offers both a definitive translation and an authoritative edition of this singularly important work, lending new insights into the early history of Islam in America and exploring the multiple, shifting interpretations of Ibn Said’s narrative by the nineteenth-century missionaries, ethnographers, and intellectuals who championed it. This edition presents the English translation on pages facing facsimile pages of Ibn Said’s Arabic narrative, augmented by Alryyes’s comprehensive introduction, contextual essays and historical commentary by leading literary critics and scholars of Islam and the African diaspora, photographs, maps, and other writings by Omar Ibn Said. The result is an invaluable addition to our understanding of writings by enslaved Americans and a timely reminder that “Islam” and “America” are not mutually exclusive terms. This edition presents the English translation on pages facing facsimile pages of Ibn Said’s Arabic narrative, augmented by Alryyes’s comprehensive introduction and by photographs, maps, and other writings by Omar Ibn Said. The volume also includes contextual essays and historical commentary by literary critics and scholars of Islam and the African diaspora: Michael A. Gomez, Allan D. Austin, Robert J. Allison, Sylviane A. Diouf, Ghada Osman, and Camille F. Forbes. The result is an invaluable addition to our understanding of writings by enslaved Americans and a timely reminder that “Islam” and “America” are not mutually exclusive terms. Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the American Association of School Librarians

Black Theology Slavery and Contemporary Christianity

The first essay is by Randall Bailey, which is entitled 'But It's in the Text!: Slavery, Sacred Texts and Black Religious Responses'. Bailey's essay seeks to problematize the Bible by arguing that it is the sacred text itself (and not ...

Black Theology  Slavery and Contemporary Christianity

Black Theology, Slavery and Contemporary Christianity explores the legacy of slavery in Black theological terms. Challenging the dominant approaches to the history and legacy of slavery in the British Empire, the contributors show that although the 1807 act abolished the slave trade, it did not end racism, notions of White supremacy, or the demonization of Blackness, Black people and Africa. This interdisciplinary study draws on biblical studies, history, missiology and Black theological reflection, exploring the strengths and limitations of faith as the framework for abolitionist rhetoric and action. This Black theological approach to the phenomenon of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the institution of slavery draws on contributions from Africa, the Caribbean, North America and Europe.

White Men s Magic

It is for this reason that Wimbush calls Equiano's narrative a ''scriptural story,'' and he argues that this is why the talking book trope appears repeatedly in writings of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century black Atlantic writers.

White Men s Magic

The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, first published in England in 1789, was one of the earliest and remains to this day one of the best-known English language slave narratives. Characterizing Olaudah Equiano's eighteenth-century narrative of his life as a type of ''scriptural story'' that connects the Bible with identity formation, Vincent L. Wimbush's White Men's Magic probes not only how the Bible and its reading played a crucial role in the first colonial contacts between black and white persons in the North Atlantic but also the process and meaning of what he terms ''scripturalization.'' By this term, Wimbush means ''a social-psychological-political discursive structure'' or ''semiosphere'' that creates a reality and organizes a society in terms of relations and communications. This scripturalization, achieved by the British to establish a colonial and racialized society in and through the promotion of literacy and the Bible as a ''fetishized center-object,'' was also performed by an abject outsider or stranger like Equiano through his reading of the Bible as well as his own writing with the goal of imagining and promoting a more inclusive society. It is for this reason that Wimbush calls Equiano's narrative a ''scriptural story,'' and he argues that this is why the talking book trope appears repeatedly in writings of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century black Atlantic writers. Because it is based on the particularities of Equiano's narrative, Wimbush's theoretical work is not only grounded but inductive, and shows that scripturalization is bigger than either the historical or the literary Equiano. Scripturalization was not invented by Equiano, he says, but it is not quite the same after Equiano.

The Bible Against Slavery A Vindication of the Sacred Scriptures Against the Charge of Authorizing Slavery a Reply to Bishop Hopkins

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The Bible Against Slavery  A Vindication of the Sacred Scriptures Against the Charge of Authorizing Slavery  a Reply to Bishop Hopkins

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Dangerous Religious Ideas

Attitudes toward sacred text have impeded embrace of scientific thought , pluralism , and social equity . The case of slavery presents an interesting example . Tanakh , New Testament , and Qur'an did not invent slavery , but all ...

Dangerous Religious Ideas

Reveals how faith traditions have always passed down tools for self-examination and debate, because all religious ideas—not just extremist ones—can cause harm, even as they also embody important moral teachings. Scripture’s abiding relevance can inspire great goodness, such as welcoming the stranger and extending compassion for the poor. But its authority has also been wielded to defend slavery, marginalize LGBTQ individuals, ignore science, and justify violence. Grounded in close readings of scripture and tradition in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, religious scholar Rachel Mikva shows us that the Abrahamic religions have always been aware of their tremendous power both to harm and to heal. And so they have transmitted their sacred stories along with built-in tools—interpretive traditions—to do the necessary work of taking on dangerous religious ideas and fostering self-critical faith. By exploring the themes of Scripture, Election, Reward and Punishment, Mikva examines how the interpretive methodologies of these religions have identified and grappled with their perilous power and positive potential. Many readers presume that their understanding of scripture’s meaning is absolute, forgetting how these sacred texts and the history of interpretation have valued multiple perspectives and recognized ongoing rhythms of change. It’s not a modern phenomenon to debate the nature of truth, hold space open for doubt, value humility, and question our capacity to know things—especially about God and God’s will—with certainty. In fact, none of the traditions could remain vital or thrive together without a sustained practice of self-critique. Dangerous Religious Ideas reframes the way we talk about faith to create a space where public discussion of religion is more constructive, nuanced, and socially engaged.

Women s Sacred Scriptures

Slave and ex - slave testimony proclaims that the purpose of God was not slavery , but freedom . Such testimony shows how enslaved African Americans acted daily and decisively , in large and in small ways , as moral agents in response ...

Women s Sacred Scriptures


The Sociology of Sacred Texts

The sacred is drawn to the very boundaries of meaning and places both the subject and language at risk . Toni Morrison's novel Beloved ? is a novel about slavery . Set in the period after the civil war when slavery , at least in a legal ...

The Sociology of Sacred Texts

The papers in this volume analyse the variety of conceptions we have of the sacred, and of what constitutes a sacred text. They do so from the perspectives of literature, theology and the social sciences. Particular attention is paid to the process of sacralization. The papers fall into two groups. First, there are those that explore the cononical process by which sacred texts emerge and are recognized as authoritative by a community. Secondly, there are those that attempt to expand our conception of the sacred texts that exist alongside the 'official' sacred text(s) and that although often 'hidden', retain the power to challenge or subvert the world-view enshrined in the established canon.

The Barbarism of Slavery

... of slaves , " all attest that the pretension that man can hold property in man was carefully , scrupulously , and completely excluded from the Constitution , so that it has no semblance of support in that sacred text ; nor is this ...

The Barbarism of Slavery


From Ancient Writings to Sacred Texts

Nigosian explores the diverse literary antecedents of the Old Testament as well as the Apocrypha -- books excluded from the canonical Hebrew text but included in the Septuagint.

From Ancient Writings to Sacred Texts

Nigosian explores the diverse literary antecedents of the Old Testament as well as the Apocrypha -- books excluded from the canonical Hebrew text but included in the Septuagint.

History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America

... than had been the task of vindicating that sacred instrument from the charge of sanctioning slavery . ... with the national Constitution , it will become of equal significance , and no profane hand will touch its sacred text .

History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America


The Life and Writings of the Right Reverend John McMullen D D

hear the presumptuous self - styled abolitionists declare that " if slavery be sanctioned in the Bible , they cast it from them , and pronounce the declaration of the sacred text a lie . " It is in vain to use reason against those who ...

The Life and Writings of the Right Reverend John McMullen  D  D


White Men s Magic

This is a transdisciplinary analysis of 'The Life of Olaudah Equiano', first published in England in 1789.

White Men s Magic

The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, first published in England in 1789, was one of the earliest and remains to this day one of the best-known English language slave narratives. Characterizing Olaudah Equiano's eighteenth-century narrative of his life as a type of ''scriptural story'' that connects the Bible with identity formation, Vincent L. Wimbush's White Men's Magic probes not only how the Bible and its reading played a crucial role in the first colonial contacts between black and white persons in the North Atlantic but also the process and meaning of what he terms ''scripturalization.'' By this term, Wimbush means ''a social-psychological-political discursive structure'' or ''semiosphere'' that creates a reality and organizes a society in terms of relations and communications. This scripturalization, achieved by the British to establish a colonial and racialized society in and through the promotion of literacy and the Bible as a ''fetishized center-object, '' was also performed by an abject outsider or stranger like Equiano through his reading of the Bible as well as his own writing with the goal of imagining and promoting a more inclusive society. It is for this reason that Wimbush calls Equiano's narrative a ''scriptural story, '' and he argues that this is why the talking book trope appears repeatedly in writings of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century black Atlantic writers. He identifies three different types of scripturalization: (1) scripturalization as social-cultural matrix and comparative magic; (2) scripturalization in the service of nationalization and for the purpose of naturalization; and (3) scripturalization in negotiation and for resistance. Because it is based on the particularities of Equiano's narrative, Wimbush's theoretical work is not only grounded but inductive. Wimbush shows that scripturalization is bigger than either the historical or the literary Equiano. Scripturalization was not invented by Equiano, he says, but it is not quite the same after Equiano.