Magazine article International Bulletin of Mission Research

The Ethiopian Prophecy in Black American Letters

Magazine article International Bulletin of Mission Research

The Ethiopian Prophecy in Black American Letters

Article excerpt

The Ethiopian Prophecy in Black American Letters.

By Roy Kay. Gainesville: Univ. Press of Florida, 2011. Pp. 260. $74.95.

Most scholars working in the field of black church studies are familiar with Psalm 68:31, the "Ethiopian Prophecy": "Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God" (KJV). The Ethiopian Prophecy in Black American Letters chronicles various interpretations of this prophecy by David as found in African American literature from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries.

Roy Kay begins by distinguishing between Jewish and Christian readings of the verse. Starting with George Fox, founder of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), he organizes the book chronologically, focusing on various individuals within each chapter. Fox interprets the verse from an evangelical and missionary perspective, stating that Ethiopia here represents the Gentile church. John Marrant, one of the first African American missionaries in colonial America, likens Ethiopia not simply to individuals of African descent but also to Native Americans. African Methodist Episcopal Church founder Richard Allen asserts that this Scripture foreshadows the emancipation of black slaves in the Americas. Other authors--from Phyllis Wheatley to Absalom Jones--view the verse as a call to Christianize Africa. Abolitionist Prince Hall sees it as a prophetic proclamation that speaks of the deliverance of Africans from slavery. The most secular reading that Kay analyzes is that of W. …

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