Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope
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Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope Audible Audiobook – Unabridged

4.8 out of 5 stars 1,542 ratings

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Product details

Listening Length 5 hours and 21 minutes
Author Esau McCaulley
Narrator Esau McCaulley
Whispersync for Voice Ready
Audible.com Release Date September 22, 2020
Publisher christianaudio.com
Program Type Audiobook
Version Unabridged
Language English
ASIN B08GL19Z4H
Best Sellers Rank #11,536 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals)
#9 in Religion & Sociology
#17 in Christian Social Issues (Audible Books & Originals)
#19 in Bible Commentaries

Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5
1,542 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on December 31, 2020
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2.0 out of 5 stars A review by an Amateur Anglican
By Richard Reeb on December 31, 2020
In the Apostle’s Creed there is a single phrase within one sentence that includes the Church: I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. In the Nicene Creed, there is more flesh on those bones: We believe in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. As Anglicans, we are creedal, not confessional.

So, imagine my confusion when an Anglican priest starts talking about a “white” and a “black” church as if they are real things. Yes, I can hear you saying “but, you know what he meant.” Yes, I do and I don’t. He never clearly sets the context, so many times he simply assumes things without stating them explicitly. An important context of this book is “here in the United States, and predominately in certain geographical areas there are denominations and even some congregations within larger denominations that are comprised predominately by descendants of freed slaves of West African extraction.”

I’m going to guess that Dr. McCulley didn’t want to confuse his target audience. This book is really intended as a love letter to the preaching in churchs of the descendants of freed slaves in the United States. Those churches are predominately Baptist in polity and tradition and references to the creed might not be well received.

A significant part of my disagreement stems from this entire idea of race. Race is an artificial construct of the early modern scientific era as scientists tried to understand why different people groups had different skin tones and body structure. Some dude filling skulls with sand is not sound science. DNA pretty well refutes any attempt to create seperate races, we are The Race of Adam. To speak of races is to accept the lie of the slave masters, that God by giving us our various physical attributes was making ontological distinctions, rather than a good and merciful God who suited us up for our various geographical and climate needs.

There is also no serious mention of the abolishionist movement. It’s almost as if he couldn’t bear the thought of possibily including somthing contra-narrative. But that is pure speculation on my part.

Conclusion

So, do I recommend the book? Only if you think your nerves can handle it. And right now, a lot of us on the theological and political right have fried nerves.
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Reviewed in the United States on September 1, 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars For A Time Such As This
By Dara on September 1, 2020
I greatly enjoyed reading this work by Dr. Esau McCaulley. It was the balm my soul needed.
In a time where many are deeply wrestling with questions like these:
"Is the God of the Scriptures truly a God of justice?"
"Does God care about the perils of the oppressed?"
"Is Christianity in some sense at its core, truly the white man's religion? Is Jesus truly a Savior for Black people?"
"Am I wrong for believing that the Scriptural witness leads us away from complicity with the status quo?"
"Were my African ancestors foolish to trust in Jesus?"

Esau takes us back to consider the wisdom and faithfulness of the historic Black Church tradition that is often undervalued in many circles as he combines his own life story with necessary historical, theological, and cultural reflection.

In reviewing Black biblical interpretation in Chapter 1 “The South Got Somethin’ to Say”, he looks back to Frederick Douglass and many other Black Christians of old as emblematic of the historic Black Church tradition. Frederick Douglass, at the end of “The Life of An American Slave” says that he made a distinction between the “Christianity of Christ” (The Christian message and faith at its very heart) and the “Christianity of this land” (which was hypocritical, violent, complicit with white racial oppression and slavery). And so it remains today.

I really enjoyed Chapter 2 “Freedom is No Fear”. It also appealed greatly to the historian in me. The connections he makes from the activity of policing that Roman soldiers would perform to modern police is coherent and allows the Scriptures to speak more clearly into present day challenges.

Chapter 7 “The Freedom of the Slaves” was extremely helpful and very heartfelt. Often, when it comes to the issue of slavery, it has remained the lingering hinderance to my continued faith in the Lord. I have often seen the explanations given by various Christian teachers and in bible study material range from "these are essentially employee/employer relationships" to "The Apostles weren't inspired by God in the passages that only seem to regulate the institution"

Esau makes a case that I believe is faithful and solid. It doesn't require us to throw out portions of the New Testament nor does it minimize the cruel reality of slavery (in any era) that has been often linked with violence and sexual exploitation, especially towards women. It gives Christians, but especially Black Christians, hope that the Creator God Yahweh, at the infinite core of who he is, remains committed to freedom and the ultimate liberation of both soul and body from sin and death through Jesus
.
Esau’s arguments from from Scripture, both Old and New Testament are very good. He takes a look at God's original intent at Creation, his redemptive work in history (what is God has in human history centered in the people of Israel to undo the effects of the Curse of sin and death in the world leading up to and now also through Jesus the Messiah and the Church), and his eschatological (final purposes and future for all of the universe). This was all very helpful and a MUCH better way to answer the question that doesn't eliminate every angst in me but settles much of this lingering question.

I deeply enjoyed the whole book from beginning to end but these are a few chapters I wanted to highlight. This book is thoroughly researched but very accessible for the layperson. True enough to the tradition, he was PREACHING (cue flame emojis) at several points during the book. This was written with the marginalized right in front of him, with a view towards their spirits and bodies finding solace in Jesus and the Kingdom.

Another great thing about this book is that it is not meant to be exhaustive in every respect. More could be said about the various topics that were written in each chapter and deserve (and already do have in some cases) their own books. Esau does do a great job for putting all this together. Well researched. It’s worth looking into the individuals and events cited for additional understanding.

ALL IN ALL: Get this book for yourself. Order 2 or 3 for your friends. Order 8-10 for your small group. Order 60 for your local church. Make this part of seminary curriculum across the nation. It is very needed. This book in my estimation is in service to God’s Kingdom and a call for the Church to be worthy representatives of the King and to recognize the Spirit's work in the historic Black Church tradition.
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117 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on September 2, 2020
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72 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on September 2, 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars A much needed voice which has been missing in Biblical interpretation!
By Tara on September 2, 2020
This book celebrates the Bible as the Living Word speaking to the people and issues of our day. Dr. Esau McCaulley is a historian, a theologian, and a lover of Jesus who models for us an authentic faith born out of adversity and steeped in redeeming hope. BUY THIS BOOK! I highly recommend everyone read it. It is a testament to the lived experience of African American Christians, but it will also resonate with anyone who has experienced trials and discrimination. Your reading and application of Scripture will be enriched as a result of reading this book. Seriously, buy it!
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Top reviews from other countries

SJT
5.0 out of 5 stars Words Matter!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 10, 2020
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4 people found this helpful
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Felix Christof
5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding the black experience
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 14, 2021
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One person found this helpful
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Rick Sharp
5.0 out of 5 stars Reading the Bible through the lens of hope
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 16, 2021
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J. Nickel
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, inspiring, challenging, and above all hopeful
Reviewed in Canada on March 28, 2021
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2 people found this helpful
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Nathan G. Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you
Reviewed in Australia on September 10, 2021
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