Scholarship for the Black
Thomas Hoyt, Jr.
Various methods have been used to interpret the biblical text in its own context and to explore its contemporary relevance. Whether the biblical interpreter has been a lay person reading the Bible “devotionally,” a pastor preparing a sermon, or a trained scholar doing technical exegesis, some method or methods of interpretation have always been operative. Black biblical interpreters have developed their own unique interpretative tradition based on ancient, recent, and contemporary scholarship. The task of this chapter is to survey traditional scholarship and to see how it was used to develop a school of interpretation informed by the black experience.
We know that biblical writers were themselves interpreters, for the historical-critical method has shown us how writers in both testaments exercised a certain freedom in building upon traditions that they received.1 Let us look briefly at several models from the Old and New
1. There are those who think that scriptural meanings are best derived from inves-
tigation of community experiences within the texts themselves. These scholars (Childs,