The New Black Theology: Retrieving Ancient Sources to Challenge Racism

Title

The New Black Theology: Retrieving Ancient Sources to Challenge Racism

Description

This is a review of three books by three different Bible scholars often referred to as the Duke theologians: . Kameron Carter's Race: A Theological Account (Oxford University Press, 2008); the Ameri­can Academy of Religion's Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion winner Willie J. Jennings's The Christian Imagi­nation: Theology and the Origins of Race (Yale University Press, 2010); and Re­deeming Mulatto: A Theology of Race and Christian Hybridity (Baylor University Press, 2010), by Brian Bantum (who studied at Duke with both Carter and Jennings).

Tran writes, "these books represent a major theological shift that will—if taken as seriously as it deserves—change the face not only of black theology but theology as a whole. ... The power of race lies not only in its ability to license violence perpetuated within what Jennings calls "the colonialist logics." The further tragedy is that conquered non-European peoples came to think of themselves in terms of race. Slaves came to speak the language of their masters and see themselves through European eyes. The devastating violence of colonialism and slavery resulted in people being deprived of the homes and communities that had for generations provided the narratives for understanding themselves. In the absence of these grounding narratives, they adopted the only discourse available—the discourse of race.

By returning to the scene of racism's theological origins, the new theology outlines where things initially went wrong and charts an alternative course. A better option was there all along in the church's affirmation of Jesus' humanity (a particular, Jewish humanity) and divinity.

... Bantum, Carter and Jennings reinvigorate the likes of Irenaeus, Athanasius and Maximus in their articulations of orthodox Christology.


That we all now speak the language of race demonstrates the depth and breadth to which our imaginations have been colonized in just the way Jennings lays out. Beauty, intelligence, piety and every other mark of personhood are indexed along a spectrum of whiteness. ... By returning to the scene of racism's theological origins, the new theology outlines where things initially went wrong and charts an alternative course. A better option was there all along in the church's affirmation of Jesus' humanity (a particular, Jewish humanity) and divinity.

Creator

Jonathan Tran

Source

The Christian Century, Vol. 129, No. 3, Feb. 2012

Publisher

The Christian Century

Date

January 26, 2012

Type

Text

Coverage

United States

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Citation

Jonathan Tran, “The New Black Theology: Retrieving Ancient Sources to Challenge Racism,” Anti-Racism Digital Library, accessed December 14, 2018, https://sacred.omeka.net/items/show/108.