Event Title

The KJV and Black Liberation

Location

Room A

Start Date

1-10-2011 4:15 PM

End Date

1-10-2011 5:30 PM

Abstract

In a very real sense, the KJV began life as a counterrevolutionary text, aimed against previous translations that were deemed to be subversive of established authority, their marginal notes especially critical of princes, like the one for whom the KJV is named and his predecessors. In due course, however, the KJV evolved into a text beloved by rebels with various causes. This paper examines the KJV and the antinomian tradition in the context of black liberation. Beginning in the age of revolution, the late 18th century, a black literary tradition emerged in the Atlantic world, centered on opposition to the slave trade and slavery, with the KJV as its sword and shield. The paper then traces out, down to the early decades of the 20th century, the emergence of an emancipatory discourse that derives its central tropes from the KJV, focusing on passages that emphasize the equality of all peoples, affirm the dignity of labor, the right of the laborer to the fruits of his labor, and predict the imminent destruction of tyranny, and the redemption of African peoples everywhere.

Comments

Dr. Michael West is Professor of Sociology, Africana Studies, & Philosophy, Interpretation, and Culture (PIC) at Binghamton University.

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Oct 1st, 4:15 PM Oct 1st, 5:30 PM

The KJV and Black Liberation

Room A

In a very real sense, the KJV began life as a counterrevolutionary text, aimed against previous translations that were deemed to be subversive of established authority, their marginal notes especially critical of princes, like the one for whom the KJV is named and his predecessors. In due course, however, the KJV evolved into a text beloved by rebels with various causes. This paper examines the KJV and the antinomian tradition in the context of black liberation. Beginning in the age of revolution, the late 18th century, a black literary tradition emerged in the Atlantic world, centered on opposition to the slave trade and slavery, with the KJV as its sword and shield. The paper then traces out, down to the early decades of the 20th century, the emergence of an emancipatory discourse that derives its central tropes from the KJV, focusing on passages that emphasize the equality of all peoples, affirm the dignity of labor, the right of the laborer to the fruits of his labor, and predict the imminent destruction of tyranny, and the redemption of African peoples everywhere.