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African American Readings of Paul
Reception, Resistance, and Transformation
Lisa M. Bowens
Foreword by Emerson B. Powery
Afterword by Beverly Roberts Gaventa

HARDCOVER; Published: 10/13/2020
ISBN: 978-0-8028-7676-8
Price: $ 40.00
355 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 6 x 9
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The letters of Paul—especially the verse in Ephesians directing slaves to obey their masters—played an enormous role in promoting slavery and justifying it as a Christian practice. Yet despite this reality African Americans throughout history still utilized Paul extensively in their own work to protest and resist oppression, responding to his theology and teachings in numerous—often starkly divergent and liberative—ways. 

In the first book of its kind, Lisa Bowens takes a historical, theological, and biblical approach to explore interpretations of Paul within African American communities over the past few centuries. She surveys a wealth of primary sources from the early 1700s to the mid-twentieth century, including sermons, conversion stories, slave petitions, and autobiographies of ex-slaves, many of which introduce readers to previously unknown names in the history of New Testament interpretation. Along with their hermeneutical value, these texts also provide fresh documentation of Black religious life through wide swaths of American history. African American Readings of Paul promises to change the landscape of Pauline studies and fill an important gap in the rising field of reception history.

Table of Contents

Introduction: African American Pauline Hermeneutics
Chapter 1: Early Eighteenth Century to Early Nineteenth Century
Chapter 2: Mid-Nineteenth Century to Late Nineteenth Century
Chapter 3: Late Nineteenth Century to First Half of Twentieth Century
Chapter 4: Pauline Language in Enslaved Conversion Experiences and Call Narratives
Chapter 5: African American Pauline Hermeneutics and the Art of Biblical Interpretation

Jesus Creed
“This is a special book in its painstaking historical culling of sources largely unknown and for showing how the apostle Paul was read by American slaves. It should be in every theological library, and it can be used as a textbook in hermeneutics classes to examine how Paul has been read and still can be read.”