African-American Religion: Interpretive Essays in Religion and Culture. Edited by Timothy E. Fulop and Albert J. Raboteau. New York: Routledge, 1997. 467 pp. $75.95 cloth; $24.95 paper.
The gradual yet dramatic unfolding of the religious and cultural history of African Americans has been advanced to another significant level with the publication of this comprehensive series of essays edited by two prominent historians of the black experience. Contributions authored by such respected scholars as Charles Long, Vincent Harding, C. Eric Lincoln, Will Gravely, and others reveal in stunning clarity the tortuous development of religion and its institutions among former slaves and their culture-a culture in which "church" and "state" were not very separated.
Not since W.E.B. DuBois's Souls of Black Folk, Carter Woodson's History of the Negro Church, or C. Eric Lincoln's The Black Experience in Religion has such a diverse range of topics been corralled in one volume. Organized into sections dealing with historiography, slave religion, concepts of freedom and destiny, new religious movements, and African American religious culture, this volume surveys the best current scholarly research and interpretation of African American religion and culture.
The traditional typology of "Church, Sect, Cult" used to locate religious movements is not employed in these essays. They focus instead on black responses to oppression and their search for a livable identity.
David Wills argues that the encounter between blacks and whites should be considered one of the central themes in American …