This introductory chapter first sets out the book's primary focus—how English-speaking peoples in general, and more specifically Black West Indians and African Americans, have mobilized the narratives of the Hebrew Bible in a succession of movements that claim descent from the ancient Israelites, beginning in the 1890s. Most of these movements can be called “religious,” but they are not simply about beliefs, discourses, rituals, practices, or the divine, as if divinity was ever simple; they are also about history, group belonging, and plans for migration, exodus, and this-worldly liberation. The discussion then turns to the meaning of the term “Black Israelite”and the history of Black Israelite movements. An overview of the subsequent chapters is also presented.
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