The Christian imagination : theology and the origins of race by Willie James Jennings (New Haven, Conn. ; London : Yale University Press, c2010)
Why has Christianity, a religion premised upon neighbourly love, failed in its attempts to heal social divisions? This title delves into the late medieval soil in which the modern Christian imagination grew, to reveal how Christianity's highly refined process of socialization has inadvertently created and maintained segregated societies.
Awards: American Academy of Religion Award of Excellence in the Study of Religion in the Constructive-Reflective category the year after it appeared and in 2015, the Grawemeyer Award in Religion, the largest prize for a theological work in North America.
Book Reviews, Arranged in Reverse Chronological Order, i.e. most recent first
Adam Shields, The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race by Willie James Jennings. Bookwi.se Excerpt: Summary: When the sociological construct of race was developed, Christianity was the dominant intellectual force. Jennings traces how theology impacted and influenced the development of racism and how theology was used to justify racist acts. ... I was aware of the concept of superssionism prior to this book (the idea that Christianity superseded Judaism and replaced God’s covenant with Israel by a new covenant with the church.) But it is just not something I have thought much about. Christianity has failed to reject supersessionism clearly and there has always been a stain of supersessionism, from the overt Marcionism and Manichaeism that were both rejected as heresy, to the much more subtle replacement theology that arose later. It has really only been since World War II and the Holocaust that Christianity has widely started seeing supersessionism as a theological problem. Jennings makes the case that the ethnic prejudice against Jews that was rooted in supersessionism and was strongly present throughout the middle ages, gave theological cover for a different type of ethnic superiority that gradually developed into the concept of race and the racial hierarchies that undergirded colonialism, race-based slavery and White supremacy.
. The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race. Willie James Jennings. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010. 366pp. $35.00. ISBN: 978-0-300-15211-1. The Evangelical Review of Society and Politics (now, The Evagenlical Review of Theology and Politics), Vol. 5, No.1, pages 71-74. [pdf] Excerpt: I have however found the subtitle “Theology and the Origin of Race” rather misleading: Jennings does not attempt to offer a theology of the origin of race (although he did say something of the human race and civilization after Shem, Hem, and Japheth). It is Race: A Theological Account (Oxford University Press, 2008) by J. Kameron Carter, one of Jennings’ mentee and now colleague, that explores a theology of race, and in particular, a theological, historical and political re-reading of the Israelite and Christian identity as the earlier perpetuators of a ‘western white’ hegemonic Christian vision. While both Carter and Jennings obviously share the same vision for the future of theology, Jennings’ interest (the book under review) rests more on theological imagination in light of race and political, economic, social, and ecclesial hegemonies (instead of a theology of the origin of race per seas the subtitle of Jennings’ book suggests).
Victor Anderson. The Christian Imagination by Willie James Jennings. The Christian Century. [html]
Writings on the Web by Willie James Jennings: The Christian Century [open excerpt, paid content] https://www.christiancentury.org/contributor/william-james-jennings
Religion Dispatches http://religiondispatches.org/author/willie_james_jennings2/