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Reading While Black: African American…

Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an… (utgåvan 2020)

av Esau McCaulley (Författare)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1564135,293 (4.3)1
Titel:Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope
Författare:Esau McCaulley (Författare)
Info:IVP Academic (2020), 208 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek


Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope av Esau McCaulley (Author)


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Reading Scripture from the perspective of Black church tradition can help us connect with a rich faith history and address the urgent issues of our times. Demonstrating an ongoing conversation between the collective Black experience and the Bible, New Testament scholar Esau McCaulley shares a personal and scholarly testament to the power and hope of Black biblical interpretation.
  staylorlib | May 17, 2021 |
This book aims to do a couple of things: (1) to articulate a Biblical response to America’s race issues, and (2) to justify the validity of such a response. Although the brevity of this book prohibits it from providing much more than a starting point as regards (1), it makes a number of interesting points. Of particular note are the analyses of some of the more problematic passages in scripture, for example, the “governing authority” passage of Romans 13 which would appear to enjoin a slavish submission to the state; some key Old Testament passages about slavery, especially in Deuteronomy; and of course, the “slaves, obey your masters” verse in Ephesians. To be a Christian and to be concerned with race issues, one must grapple with these verses. Again, the analysis here is brief, but it appears to be pretty solid, and there are footnotes for further reading — definitely some food for thought, and a much-needed discussion. McCaulley articulates some pretty radical interpretations of these verses, but with arguments firmly rooted in rigorous exegesis and scholarship. I learned a lot even from these brief discussions.

In order to justify his approach, he lays out the issues in the church regarding the reception of Black exegesis. He portrays Black Christians as fighting a battle on two fronts: against revisionist liberal Christians on the one hand who fail to really enter into dialogue with the text, and conservative/establishment Christians on the other who see Black theology as biased and tainted. He successfully argues for the legitimacy/orthodoxy of Black theology, and demonstrates the impoverishment of the traditional “colorblind”/“neutral” conceptions. This is especially relevant in light of the Bible’s misuse historically as justification for slavery, and in pointing out its relevance to the ongoing issues. I learned a lot about church history and McCaulley's unique Black experience from these sections.

The tone of this book is very even and non-combative, but the argumentation remains strong. It’s a refreshing alternative to both the far-left mind-fuckery of Kendi, DiAngelo, and Oluo, and the conservative Christian alt-right who would deny that systemic racism is even a thing. Naturally, I have my complaints—he glosses over some points that bear more explanation, and certain portions stand in need of an editor. But these are minor complaints, and I won’t dwell on them. Overall I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to any Christian hoping to get a better understanding of the race issue and remain firmly rooted in scripture, or anybody looking for a voice that steadfastly avoids the simple binaries that tend to dominate the discussion in general. ( )
  exhypothesi | Mar 7, 2021 |
Summary: A study of biblical interpretation in the traditional Black church that emphasizes the conversation between the biblical text and the Black experience and how this sustains hope in the face of despair.

Esau McCaulley describes his journey from southern roots to white evangelicalism and progressive scholarship and back to the Black church tradition. He recognized that both evangelical and progressive traditions didn’t offer the wherewithal to deal with the Black experience of slavery and racism and to sustain hope amid despair. McCaulley found this by going back to the Black church, both its biblically rooted resistance to slavery and injustice, and its message of hope of liberation, not merely spiritual but in terms of bodily status.

McCaulley offers this description of biblical interpretation how one reads the Bible while Black:

--unapologetically canonical and theological.
--socially located, in that it clearly arises out of the particular context of Black Americans.
--willing to listen to the ways in which the Scriptures themselves respond to and redirect Black issues and concerns.
--willing to exercise patience with the text trusting that a careful and sympathetic reading of the text brings a blessing.
--willing to listen to and enter into dialogue with Black and white critiques of the Bible in the hopes of achieving a better reading of the text.

The next six chapters address issues facing the black community and how the tradition of Black church reading of scripture addresses each. The issues are: policing, political witness, the pursuit of justice, Black identity, Black anger, and slavery. The treatments are not exhaustive but are meant to point toward the resources of biblical interpretation open to the Black community. The concluding chapter centers on hope, which is the outcome of engaging the biblical text and looking for answers to these pressing issues. A “bonus track” goes further into the ecclesial, or church-centered aspect of this approach to biblical interpretation.

I will not go through McCaulley’s discussion of the six issues but focus on the first as an example of the approach he commends. First he begins with context, and his own experience of being stopped by police while at a gas station, as he was driving friends to a party. He then turns to Romans 13:1-2, often weaponized against the Black community. He observes how we often look at the instructions for citizens without considering the powers subject to God, and why, in Paul’s context the recipients of his letter are subjected to an evil empire by God. What the passage raises is a form of theodicy. McCaulley reads this passage canonically, setting Rome alongside Pharaoh (cf. Romans 9:17) in which God is glorified through his judgment upon wicked kings. If Moses was not sinful in his resistance to Pharaoh, then submission to authorities does not preclude calling evil by its name. Furthermore, verses 3 and 4 of Romans 13 speak to the just use of authority, to reward good and punish evil, and not the reverse. Policing that treats citizens otherwise ought to be reformed. It should not engender fear in those who do right, no matter the color of their skin. McCaulley observes then that how Paul deals with the evil Roman empire is not to refer to their evil but to talk about how just rule is exercised in a way that assures rather than arouses fear in the lives of the governed who do what is right.

I look at this and ask the question of how often have I heard the text taught in this way in the white church? Yet the implications for how those with police powers ought exercise them, as well as the obligation of submission, are both in the text. Both Pharaoh and Rome are in Romans. Yet where has this connection been made that speaks of how God judges evil empires and glorifies himself? Those whose social location is in the Black church in America see these realities in the text more readily than many of us.

I cannot read while Black. I read from a social location that makes me more aware of some aspects of scripture while missing others. What I’ve come to recognize as I’ve grown older is how much I’ve been blind to in scripture. I can only understand the whole counsel of God with the whole church. While I cannot read while Black, I can read with the Black church, to listen to their readings, always searching the text to see if these things are so. And what I find in many instances is that they are, and I had not had eyes to see. Open my eyes, Lord!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. ( )
  BobonBooks | Feb 8, 2021 |
The author takes us on a journey through his experience in the American black church and explores whether Christianity and the Bible truly have anything to say regarding the experience of Black people in America.

He begins by establishing his framework and the need to create space in the realms of theology and ecclesiology for Black interpretation. He addresses specific relevant domains for the time: a theology of policing, the church and political witness, and the Bible and the pursuit of justice, demonstrating how the Scriptures do give space for a robust social advocacy by Christians, nonviolent resistance against the powers and principalities, and an expectation for the civil authorities to truly commend the good and punish the evil - wherever that good or evil may be found, and not the justification of certain forms of evil (police brutality, extortion, corruption, etc.), which exposes the authorities as truly unjust.

He also addresses black identity and black anger according to what God has made known in Christ and in Scripture. He affirms significant African presence in Scripture and African blood within the people of God*. He finds a way for anger to be expressed in the imprecatory psalms, yet points out how the end of all such things is in faith and confidence in God. He speaks of the freedom slaves found in Scripture in its theme of liberation, and demonstrates the truth of the subtitle: Black people can find hope and the ground of hope through what is found in Scripture, and there is significant room and value in contribution for Black interpretation of Scripture and faith in Christ. His appendix provides a helpful explainer for the development of Black ecclesial interpretation from the end of slavery to the modern day.

As a white Christian the book was not directly written to me; it certainly seemed like I was being given a view into some "inside baseball" within the Black community. I found the explanations helpful and the theology generally sound. Biblical interpretation and the witness of faith will be better served with the elevation of Black voices speaking from the Black experience; I believe the deepening has already begun, and look forward to seeing it continue. A very well written and compelling work.

*- McCaulley's general premise is completely accurate - there is African blood within Israel, both from intermarriage and as part of the "mixed multitude" which joined Israel in the Exodus. Moses' Cushite wife came from somewhere. The story of Israel's history frequently intersects with Africans from Cush and Ethiopia. There's much more Africa in Israel than Europe, that's for certain. Egypt, however, is more complicated than McCaulley would suggest. Yes, Egypt is on the African continent; but culturally, linguistically, ethnically, and now genetically, it is manifest that Egypt is a Near Eastern civilization, connected more to the northeast than to its west or south. The Egyptians did not see themselves as "black" (or "white" for that matter); they saw themselves as in the middle, and superior that way. Are there Saharan and sub-Saharan influences on Egypt? Absolutely. But ancient Egyptian, while geographically African, is not "Black."

**- galley received as part of an early review program ( )
1 rösta deusvitae | Jul 4, 2020 |
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