Stony the Road We Trod: African American Biblical Interpretation

By Cain Hope Felder | Go to book overview

Preface

Slowly, but perceptibly, the world is changing—and in some respects the changes are not a cause for alarm or fear. By 2056, for example, Hispanic, black, and Asian people will together outnumber whites in the United States of America, if present population levels and immigration patterns continue. While such a prospect frightens some who have grown accustomed to being part of the dominant political and economic group in North America, the change in demographics offers a range of creative opportunities for the more enlightened within universities, theological centers of higher education, and the churches and synagogues. Modern technologies and political economies have converted the world into a “global village.” Such a development yields new opportunities to get to know the erstwhile “estranged others,” their stories, their hurts, and—not least—their interpretations of the Bible. The present period affords all a creative challenge to reexamine the ways in which the Bible has been traditionally interpreted within and for mainstream (i.e., white/Eurocentric) academic curricula and churches.

Although it may surprise some well-meaning Christians and Jews in America today, much of what is regarded as legitimate and objective biblical analysis (exegesis) and interpretation (hermeneutics) has been done for the distinct purpose of maintaining Eurocentrism. The biblical role of non-Europeans in general and blacks in particular has thereby been trivialized and left in the margins, as has their role in salvation history subsequent to the redaction of the Bible. Within this framework, Stony the Road We Trod offers a fresh challenge to all Bible interpreters— a challenge that intends to be thoroughly constructive as a preliminary bridge to celebrating not “his-story” alone, but all ofour-stories” as the people of God. The presupposition for this book is that we must engage the new challenge to recapture the ancient biblical vision of racial and ethnic pluralism as shaped by the Bible’s own universalism. We must also gain a new appreciation for the varied uses of Scripture within the Bible itself as a means of developing more sensitivity for the positive elements in such phenomena as modes of African American biblical

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