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African American Studies | Biblical Studies | Comparative Methodologies and Theories | History of Religions of Western Origin


Introduction: Reading the Bible = Reading the Self and the World. African Americans' engagement of the Bible is complex and dynamic. It is a fascinating historical drama, beginning with the Africans' involuntary arrival in the New World. But as sign of the creativity and adaptability of the Africans and of the evocative power of the Bible, the drama continues to the present day, notwithstanding the complexity and controversies of intervening periods. Thus, there is in African Americans' engagement of the Bible potential not only for an interpretive history of their readings as a history of their collective self understandings, visions, hopes, challenges, and agenda, but also-because of their singular experience at least in the United States-for significant, even singular challenges for critical biblical interpretation in the late twentieth century.


First published in the Oxford Companion to the Bible (1993) by Oxford University Press.

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©1993 Oxford University Press

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