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Chosen PeopleThe Rise of American Black Israelite Religions$

Jacob S. Dorman

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780195301403

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195301403.001.0001

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“We Are Israelites but Not Jews”

“We Are Israelites but Not Jews”

Orientalism and Israelism in the Holiness-Pentecostal Movement

(p.81) 3 “We Are Israelites but Not Jews”
Chosen People

Dorman Jacob S.

Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter proposes three major revisions in the narratives that both practitioners and scholars have told about the origins of Black Jews and Judaism. First, rather than narratives of the Israelites being transmitted with enslaved Africans, who were themselves descendants of the ancient Hebrews, it demonstrates that Crowdy's church introduced Black Israelite theologies to Africa at the start of the twentieth century. Second, Holiness churches of every racial group adopted Hebraic rituals such as the Passover seder, foot washing, and the seventh day Sabbath, not to recreate Judaism but rather to emulate the early Christian church—that is, to be more like Jesus and his Apostles. Third, whereas various scholars and practitioners have explained the rise of the Pentecostal movement as an American interpretation of essentially African patterns of spirit possession, it is argued that the Pentecostal movement itself was inspired by an Anglo-Israelite attempt to recreate the early Christian church on the part of such figures as Frank Sandford in Shiloh, Maine, and Charles Parham in Topeka, Kansas.

Keywords:   Black Jews, Judaism, Black Israelites, Holiness churches, Pentecostal movement, Christian church

The context for the beginning of William Saunders Crowdy's biblical literalism was provided by the radical Holiness movement of the mid-South and West in the post-Reconstruction era. Like leaders of the Holiness movement, Crowdy and other Black Israelites adopted Old Testament dietary laws, practice of the seventh-day Sabbath, foot washing, and the Lord's Sabbath, and they rejected older mainline Christian denominations. Moreover, the combination of Holiness and Israelite ideas in slightly different form led to the religious movement of Pentecostalism ten years after Bishop Crowdy had organized his denomination. Although many authors have claimed, with little evidence, that Pentecostalism got its ecstatic forms of worship from Africa and transmitted them through Black worshipers to white ones, the best evidence suggests rather that “catching the Spirit” and speaking in tongues were not static “retentions” but were doctrinal and performative innovations developed by thousands of American practitioners of all races over the course of the nineteenth century.1 John Wesley's first followers experienced spirit-filled worship in England before Methodism had spread to America, and, indeed, spirit possession in various forms has been a part of every recorded human society. Thinking of spirit possession as essentially African is a form of the primitivism that has long associated African-descended peoples as especially emotional, given to wild abandon. Moreover, the millennial fulcrum on which the Holiness movement balanced before tipping into Pentecostalism was not the continuum between Africa and Europe but the imagined chasm between the “unredeemed” East and the Christian West. The Holiness and Pentecostal movements were not African retentions but polycultural American assemblages, and the engine that drove early Pentecostals’ identification with the ancient Israelites and acquisition of foreign languages was a Christian form of Orientalism. Although it has been all but (p.82) unnoticed in the extensive literature on the movement, early Pentecostals were participants in an American Orientalist discourse of more than a century, with its own received ideas about linguistic differences between East and West. These preconceived ideas about what the Orient sounded like helped to shape the movement.2

This is not to deny the profound influence of African Americans on the Pentecostal movement. The leap from Parham's doctrine of xenoglossia, or speaking foreign languages, to his student William Seymour's practice of glossolalia, or speaking in tongues (discussed below), marked a break from a semi-scholastic, Orientalist perspective to a more transgressive, less rigid view of communication with the Holy Spirit and with foreign peoples. It also marked a more democratic and racially inclusive practice of worship with one's fellow human beings. African Americans transformed Holiness revivals, identification with the Israelites, and speaking in tongues, in the process contributing their own ethics and standards of worship with definite roots in Black America and aesthetic roots in Africa.3 With Black influence, Methodist revivals gained enthusiasm; identification with the ancient Israelites became not a justification for imperialism but a vindication of the oppressed; and glossolalia became not the attempt to speak a foreign language, but the acquisition of one's own, God-given tongue. Perhaps enthusiastic worship, a personal relationship with God, and the ability to see one's own struggle as part of a Providential epic are particularly African American qualities, but seeing them as such does not require “outsourcing” all that is creatively and distinctively Black back to Africa. The strengths needed to develop family, community, and spiritual kinship in the face of chattel slavery, grinding oppression, and persistent violence were qualities necessarily developed on American soil.

The Holiness movement in American churches began in the 1830s and was spread by its own preachers, newspapers, associations, and revivals throughout the nineteenth century, catching fire after the Civil War. As Vinson Synan argued in his pioneering study The Holiness-Pentecostal Tradition, Holiness people sought the transcendence of sin, or “perfectionism,” through a “second blessing,” which they thought of as a “baptism of the Holy Spirit” following the conventional watery baptism that first brought the faithful into the Christian community.4 John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was most responsible for the spread of the doctrine of “sanctification” as a separate stage of faith after the acceptance of Christ. Wesley was a Church of England minister who developed his theology after what he considered to be a failed trip to spread the Gospel to Indians in the colony of Georgia from 1735 to 1738. (p.83) On the return voyage, he noticed how calm a group of German Moravian Pietists remained even when the ship hit rough seas, and began to investigate the Moravian faith.5 A Moravian missionary passing through England told Wesley that “saving faith brought with it both dominion over sin and true peace of mind both holiness and happiness.”6 Fresh from his failures in the colonies, despondent and suffering from “unusually frequent lapse into sin,” Wesley experienced a conversion experience on May 24, 1738, feeling a warming sensation in his heart that suggested the Moravian description of holiness and contentment.7 By 1740, Wesley had formulated and begun to publicize his teachings, which described a two-stage process of conversion or justification, in which the sinner accepted Jesus Christ but retained “a residue of sin within”; as well as Christian perfection, or sanctification, which purified the believer's “inbred sin.” Perfection could come instantly as a “second work of grace,” or it could come gradually, but in either case the penitent believer was not sin-proof but rather sin-adverse: through discipline, devotion, self-interrogation, and the avoidance of worldly pleasures, the methodical devotee could achieve a victory over most sin in this life and reach “sinless perfection” in heaven.8

Wesley's methodical, or “Methodist” teachings began as a revival movement within the Church of England but found the best reception in those parts of Britain and the New World where the Anglican Church was hard pressed to keep up with the demographic growth and social disruption of industrialization and territorial expansion.9 Methodism spread to the American colonies in the 1760s, and Wesley's teachings spread rapidly in the land that had inspired its invention, through the efforts of a number of devoted missionaries and circuit-riding preachers who spread the new doctrine to people of all races and classes. The American Methodist Church formally organized itself in 1784, and three years later the Rev. Richard Allen, a minister and free person of color, led African Americans out of St. George's United Methodist Church in Philadelphia and formed the first ever African-American church denomination, the African Methodist Episcopal Church (A.M.E.). Allen and the A.M.E. always used Wesley's second blessing teaching, as did the Rev. James Varick of New York, who formed a new Black denomination in 1821, the A.M.E. Zion Church. Thus, the Methodist quest for holiness and sanctification were present at the very start of African American church organizations.10 The Methodist movement would grow to become one of the largest denominations in the world, with more than thirty-five million members and three to five times as many adherents by 1909. Methodists worshipers in the United States soon came to represent 75 percent of the global communion.11

(p.84) What became known as the Holiness movement began in large part through the efforts of evangelists Sarah A. Lankford and her sister Phoebe Worrall Palmer. Lankford began holding Tuesday evening prayer meetings in her parlor in 1835, and by 1839 the meetings moved to Palmer's New York City home. Palmer and her husband, a doctor, counted several Methodist bishops among the friends who crowded their parlor to hear Mrs. Palmer's Tuesday night lectures on faith. Palmer taught that even novices might achieve perfection, holiness, or “perfect love” instantaneously, not by methodical diligence but by faith and divine grace. She taught that holiness was not a gradual “growing in grace” but an immediate experience of love and sanctity created by a “baptism of the Holy Spirit.”12 In 1839, Mrs. and Mr. Palmer founded the first journal advocating a program of perfectionism, or “Holiness,” which quickly attained a circulation of 30,000. Phoebe gained fame as an evangelist at Methodist revivals, and she and her husband traveled widely preaching the Holiness message for the next thirty years. The teachings of Christian perfectionism gained increasing support within American Methodism in the twenty-five years before the Civil War. Holiness people extended Wesley's teachings about sanctification to claim that not only could individuals attain perfection but society could, as well. Wesley had denounced the slavery he witnessed in his American travels, and a belief in social perfectionism fueled the many reform movements of the mid-nineteenth century, including the campaigns for temperance and abolition. This crusading moralism repelled Southern Methodist churches, which deemphasized Holiness in the 1840s and 1850s in order to defend the institution of slavery. Before the Civil War, the quest for Holiness was largely an urban and a northern movement.13

The geographical distribution of the Holiness movement would change with the defeat of the South in the bloody slaughter of the Civil War, which initiated a search for meaning among all Americans and a sustained revival in the South from 1865 to 1867. The established denominations tried, but simply were unable to contain the religious enthusiasm of a nation that was recovering from the killing fields of Antietam and Gettysburg. The total number of churches in the United States increased by 130 percent between 1870 and 1890, and Methodists added an average of 800,000 new members each decade between 1870 and 1910.14 The postwar Holiness movement started in earnest with the first of many National Camp Meetings for the Promotion of Holiness, held in Vineland, New Jersey, in July of 1867. In the next twenty years there would be sixty-seven national Holiness “camp meetings” and eleven urban “Tabernacle” meetings, most of the later in western locales. These revivals, sometimes conducted under large canvas tents, jousted with (p.85) the tented circuses that crossed the country in the same decades in the battle for American hearts, minds, souls, time, and money. In promoting the careers of passionate preachers whose oratory could move thousands, the camp meeting circuit innovated spirited forms of “old-time religion” and thereby widened the cultural and theological gulfs between the staid and increasingly worldly churches and the festival-like revivals that sprang up seemingly everywhere.15

Critics called Holiness people “Holy Rollers” because of the ecstatic disassociative enthusiasms that occurred in these camp meetings, as they had at the Cane Ridge Revival in Tennessee in 1804 and, indeed, at some of the prayer sessions conducted by John Wesley in England in the 1700s, as well. On occasion, moved by the ecstatic cadences of the preacher and the press of thousands of people, devotees would cry or laugh uncontrollably, overwhelmed, as they understood it, by the Holy Spirit. At other times they would drop and literally roll on the ground, or fall and not be able to move at all. Like sparks catching dry summer grass, the Holiness camp meetings of the late nineteenth century set off fires of religious enthusiasm across the country in the years following the Civil War. The movement brought with it both new kinesthetic experiences of devotion and new doctrinal innovations. Radicals condemned the old mainline churches as bastions of modern worldly temptations and ungodly temples of Mammon, filled with abominations such as fashionable dress and social events with no redeeming spiritual function. A potent faction advocating “come-outism” challenged Holiness groups within established denominations to leave the older churches behind, and twenty-three new holiness denominations arose in the last seven years of the nineteenth century, most in the South, Midwest, and Southwest.16 Most of these new Holiness movements agreed on what became known as the “fourfold Gospel”: personal salvation, spiritual baptism in the Holy Ghost, divine healing, and the imminent return of Jesus Christ.17

The Holiness movement affected Christians of all races, including African Americans, who were among its earliest adherents and who were prominently represented in many of its camp meetings, where devotees of all races often mixed freely, united in the Spirit. As scholar David D. Daniels III reports, a number of African Americans, including Sojourner Truth, had advocated the Holiness doctrine of sanctification before the Civil War, but it was not until after the war that the movement spread widely among African American churches. The signal event was the Philadelphia Revival of 1877–1879, which started at Bethel A.M.E., the mother church of the first African American denomination. Bethel's new pastor, Rev. George C. Whitefield, began preaching (p.86) Holiness sermons and convened a Holiness conference with prominent guest speakers and representatives from a range of African American congregations as well as nationally prominent white Holiness ministers such as John S. Inskip, the head of the National Camp Meeting for the Promotion of Holiness. Bethel began regular Thursday night Holiness meetings, and other Black churches in Philadelphia began to sponsor their own all-day Holiness revivals. A dozen of the most prominent African American ministers in Philadelphia had accepted the Holiness message within several months of the first meeting. But the A.M.E. church soon discovered, as did other denominations, that it could hardly contain or control the religious enthusiasms of the Holiness movement. The movement's unmethodical teachings conflicted with the Calvinist strain of Methodism, which emphasized the importance of work, prayer, and devotion, rather than instantaneous, love-filled perfection. Consequently, Holiness advocates met with resistance within the A.M.E. church, as they did within many denominations, Black and white. With Whitefield's death in 1879, Bethel's board banned Holiness meetings, and the movement waned in the City of Brotherly Love, moving from established churches to private homes. A similar backlash occurred among other denominations, as well: in 1894 the General Conference of Methodist Episcopal Churches for the Southern United States condemned the Holiness movement and launched an effort to kill off the dozens of new holiness denominations that had sprung up in the prior three decades.18

Yet despite the backlash from mainline churches, the Holiness movement continued to spread among white churches, Black churches, and some explicitly interracial Holiness communions. Among African Americans, its expansion was largely due to the efforts of laypeople and women evangelists such as Sister Callund and Emma Williams, who brought their testimony of the Philadelphia Revival with them as they traveled in the West and the North, respectively. The Holiness movement among African Americans drew strength first among Black Baptists in the border South and Mississippi, but also reached into Virginia and North Carolina in the early 1880s. Thomas J. Cox founded the Christian Faith Band, the first African American Holiness church, in Kentucky in the late 1870s.19 Holiness churches were bastions of interracialism and biblical literalism. The Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) started in 1881, and formed a large and influential interracial Holiness church that declared racial discrimination to be ungodly, as its leaders could find no support for the concept of races in the Bible. The church believed in sanctification and condemned denominations as sinful. The church also studied and adopted some of the practices of the Hebrew Bible, while practicing (p.87) the rites of baptism, foot washing, and the Lord's Supper, which commemorated Jesus’ Last (Passover) Supper. The church's adoption of Hebraic rituals started some Holiness churches down the path toward practicing “Israelite” faiths, emphasizing the rites of the Hebrew Bible from a Christian perspective. In the 1880s, the Holiness message spread through the auspices of the Church of God to African Americans in South Carolina, Michigan, and Alabama.

The theological innovations of the Holiness movement occurred in the middle of a period of ecological, agricultural, and financial hardship created by land speculation, fickle weather, and nationwide financial booms and busts. The Western places that produced the theological radicalism of the Holiness movement were the same places that produced the political radicalism of the Populist movement. Settlers had begun moving into unfarmed prairie lands on the Great Plains soon after the end of the Civil War, taking advantage of the expansion of the railroads, the ethnic cleansing or “Indian removal” policies of the U.S. government, and the fertility of those extensive grasslands. After the economic collapse of 1873 and a plague of grasshoppers and severe drought the following year, settlers on the Great Plains experienced record prosperity beginning in 1875. Boosters hailed Kansas as a new paradise, and a land rush began. The African-American “Exodusters” who headed for St. Louis, Kansas City, and the dusty plains of Kansas in the late 1870s were part of a much larger demographic shift west that increased Kansas’ population by 173 percent in the 1870s. But with a return of drought in the late 1880s, there once again was trouble in paradise. The land rush of the prior dozen years led to the Crash of 1887 and its collapse of speculative markets in western real estate and cattle, which in turn triggered an even larger collapse several years later in the Panic of 1893.20 Thus the Holiness movement grew in the midst of ecological and economic upheaval and hardship.21

The most extreme doctrinal innovations of the post-Civil War Holiness movement occurred in the South, Midwest, and the southwestern frontier, furthest from ecclesiastic authorities on the East Coast. Texas was an especially fertile place for the growth of new doctrines disturbing even to the leaders of the older National Holiness Association, who regarded some of the new innovations as heresies. In 1890s Texas, itinerant preachers taught that one could live in a state of “sinless perfection,” and some advocated “marital purity,” or abstinence within marriage. Others claimed that there was not only a second stage of purification but also a third work of sanctification called “the fire.” Once sanctified, these hardscrabble farmers, who might have previously put their faith in patent medicines sold by shady traveling salesmen, (p.88) believed that they no longer needed either doctors or drugs. Not only could the sanctified faithful look forward to perfect health, but some suggested that the “saints” might even be able to conquer death itself. Only intermittently served by trained preachers by dint of their dispersal across great expanses, people of faith on the Western frontier turned increasingly to the Bible and began to suggest closer adherence to its laws, including those of the Hebrew Testament. Some even rejected consumption of coffee and pork, finding no justification for them in either Testament.22

The most radical and influential of the new Holiness denominations was Benjamin Irwin's Fire Baptized Holiness Association, which began in Iowa in 1895 and gained strength on the Great Plains of Kansas, Texas, and the Oklahoma Territory, newly opened to non-Indian settlement. Like the early Populist movement, Irwin's association was interracial, and an African-American minister from South Carolina named William E. Fuller brought fifty Black churches into its fold by the turn of the century. Irwin taught that not only was there a third baptism by fire but there were also baptisms of dynamite, lyddite (an explosive), and oxidite. More consequently for the rise of Israelite faiths, Irwin taught strict adherence to the dietary laws of the Hebrew Bible, banning the consumption of pork, catfish, shellfish, and the other animals deemed unclean by the laws of Leviticus. Thus Bishop William Saunders Crowdy's rejection of established churches and his advocacy of customs found in the Hebrew Bible (see Chapter 1) were part of a wider stream of biblical literalism in the Holiness movement on the Western frontier.23

Even Bishop Crowdy's most notable teaching—that Christ and the ancient Israelites were Black—was not entirely unique. One of the first to popularize the idea that African Americans were the descendents of the ancient Israelites was a pastor from Wrightsville, Arkansas, named William Christian, who was born into slavery in Mississippi in 1856. Later in life he recounted how he had served as a Baptist minister for thirteen years, until 1888, before “the Lord, through some unknown power, revealed to me the startling fact that we were preaching the doctrine of men and not of Christ.”24 Christian began a period of intense spiritual interrogation, turning to the scriptures as his guide. He advocated the teachings of Alexander Campbell, an English minister who rejected denominationalism and insisted that the faithful should only follow the teachings of Christ.25 Campbell, like Bishop Christian, advocated a “primitive” form of Christianity that borrowed much from the Hebrew Bible. Everyone “who would accurately understand the Christian institution must approach it through the Mosaic,” Campbell wrote.26 Like Campbell, William Christian critiqued the practice of naming (p.89) churches by the old denominational names such as Catholic, Methodist, or Episcopal, which had no scriptural basis. He formed his own band in 1889 and christened it the “Christian Friendship Work,” but later renamed it the “Church of God,” and finally the “Church of the Living God.” Bishop Christian cited a variety of scriptures to support the idea that Adam, King David, Job, Jeremiah, Moses's wife, and Jesus Christ were all “of the Black race.”27 He taught that Adam and his descendents, including the ancient Israelites, were Black. When Cain went out and dwelt in the land of Nod, people who Bishop Christian understood to be the descendents of “fallen” and “disobedient angels” expelled from heaven with Satan already inhabited the land. “I claim that the Gentiles are the increase of the fallen angels,” Christian wrote, citing the Book of Job and the Book of Revelations. Although he does not say that the Gentiles were descended from Satan himself, his 1896 text is most likely the earliest written source of the belief that pious Black Christian slaves must have thought many times, and that the Nation of Islam popularized forty years hence: that the white people who tormented them were not human at all but were “devils” instead.28

Bishop Christian preached a race-conscious form of Christianity that directly addressed the anti-Black racism of his time and yet also overcame racialism by asserting the fundamental humanity of people of all races, despite their disparate origins. Christian inverted Blackness from a sign of the “Curse of Ham” to the mark of the covenant that God made with Abraham. “We Black people are not a thrown away people as some of our white friends pretend we are,” he asserted.29 Yet according to Christian, although Black people had sometimes intermarried with lighter-skinned people from outside the covenant, anyone could join the covenant by following his teachings. He referred to Christ as “colorless” because he had no human father and his teachings attracted followers of all races. Christian was fond of St. Paul's statement that Christianity crossed all social divisions: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28). Eventhough he thought that whites and Blacks had separate origins, he believed that the Christian faith instructed people of all races to love one another. “Remember friends, Christ told us to love one another as he loved us,” Christian wrote. “He never said each race love his own race; he just said love one another.”30 In order to create a biracial, antiracist church, Christian adopted biblical rituals and emphasized strict adherence to the Ten Commandments. Like the Church of God (Anderson), he instituted the ancient Near Eastern practice of foot washing, which was a mark of biblical hospitality and humility. It was (p.90) also a violation of the customs of segregation, which banned bodily contact between the races, and so asserted the primacy of God's law and the inequity of racist human laws. In these and other ways, Christian was a product of his time and place. In addition to foot washing, he advocated full-immersion baptism, practiced the Lord's Supper with water rather than wine, and condemned adulterers as the vilest people on earth. Like many other biblical literalists of his day, Bishop Christian condemned fashions, vanity, and the new commercial and scientific order that had emerged after the Civil War. He asserted that the earth was flat, discouraged the use of tobacco and snuff, and threatened damnation on “vain words” and “long prayers.” He likewise condemned “merchandising,” citing the Book of Revelations, and predicted a sorry end for merchants and rich men, citing the Apostle James.31

Bishop Christian's early Black Israelite form of Holiness Christianity had a profound impact on African American religion. By 1898, Bishop Christian's teachings about the Blackness of the ancient Hebrews could be heard in ninety congregations in eleven states and territories, including Oklahoma. Christian's most famous disciple was Charles H. Mason, who spent five years in his fellowship before striking out on his own to found the Church of God in Christ (COGIC). Mason's church was the first Holiness church to organize in the South, and partly for that reason he attracted many white ministers to his organization. Mason visited the Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles in 1907, and COGIC went on to become the nation's largest Pentecostal church.32 Meanwhile, Christian's church spread rapidly throughout the South and Midwest, and by 1906 there were sixty-eight branches and offshoots with 4,276 members in eleven states: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. The heart of the church was in the upper South, with twenty churches in Arkansas and thirteen in Tennessee. By 1916, there were 192 churches with 11,635 members, and by 1926 there were 239 churches and 17,402 members, before declining to 215 churches and 9,636 adherents in 1936.33

William Saunders Crowdy's innovation was one of intensity, not of kind. It is unclear who was first to preach that the ancient Israelites were Black, while adopting Old Testament rituals, Bishop Christian or Bishop Crowdy, who began preaching in Guthrie, Oklahoma, five years after Bishop Christian's 1888 revelation. The two advocated very similar doctrines and rituals, although neither set down his theology in writing until much later. It is quite likely that both men's teachings did not arrive full-blown in their initial revelations but developed in the tumultuous decade of the 1890s. Bishop Christian certainly taught that the ancient Hebrews were Black, and most (p.91) likely taught that contemporary African Americans were their descendants, but Crowdy began to systematically adopt the rituals of the Hebrew Bible, beginning with the seventh-day Sabbath and continuing with the Passover and the other festivals of the Hebrew calendar. Through their joint efforts, Bishops Christian and Crowdy seeded the African American religious landscape with the conviction that the ancient Israelites were Black, and attracted thousands of African American believers who had adopted some of the rites of the Hebrew Bible to go along with the conviction that the Hebrew and Christian Bibles were describing their own ancestors. In most cases, the Judaic groups that arose in northern cities before and after the First World War were lineal descendents of Bishop Crowdy's Church of God and Saints of Christ or Bishop Christian's Church of the Living God. For example, Prophet Cherry's Black Jewish sect in 1930s Philadelphia clearly wore the distinctive brown and blue costumes of the Church of God and Saints of Christ.34 Likewise, as we shall see in Chapter 5, New York Rabbi Wentworth Arthur Matthew's attempt to create a national network of Black Jews led him to reach out to at least one minister who had received ordination from Prophet Crowdy, as well as lay people who had links to the earlier group.35 Bishops Christian and Crowdy created an audience for alternative faiths to follow in successive decades, preparing the ground for the growth of varieties of African American Judaism and Islam.

The Pentecostal movement, like Black Israelite churches of the 1890s, could not have happened without the combination of Holiness churches and a fascination with discovering the proper identity of the Israelites. The new fields of Orientalist studies, which had themselves been inspired in part by the search for the biblical Israelites, also fueled the era's obsession with the Israelite past.36 Much of the Holiness movement was not Orientalist, as it derived from engagement with Christian text and American communities of faith that did not refer to the Orient as a significant point of reference. But it is likewise impossible to extract nineteenth-century Christian theology from Orientalism altogether. It was commonplace for late nineteenth-century Protestants to view the Bible as an accurate map of the “Orientalisms” of the Holy Land. As the editor of the first issue of the Oriental and Biblical Journal proclaimed, “Oriental studies bring us into close contact with the Old Testament record.”37 For western Christians, contemporary Palestine, with its Oriental people and customs, was a window into what the dress, life, and land of the ancient Hebrews and earliest Christians must have been like. And when fervent Holiness missionaries fanned out across the globe to spread their message of perfectionism, they came face-to-face with both Africans and (p.92) so-called “Orientals.” It was this encounter, and the linguistic and cultural synapse it created between East and West, that sent a jolt through Holiness communities, sparking the innovation of the gift of tongues that initiated Pentecostalism. To a degree that has gone largely unappreciated, Orientalism was an important part of the theological and ritual innovations of the early Pentecostal movement.

The Pentecostal movement emerged through the efforts of a number of Holiness pastors and their students at a time around the turn of the twentieth century that was rife with millennial expectations. The world was newly stitched together with novel circuits of travel, language, and power by the emergence of the overseas empire of the United States before and after the War of 1898. Aware of how naval power had been critical to the expansion of the British Empire, the United States had set out on a quest to modernize its Navy after the publication of Alfred T. Mahan's influential 1890 book, The Influence of Sea Power on World History, and in light of American desires to capitalize on the trans-Pacific trade with China, Japan, and the “Orient.”38 The war against Spain, Cuba, and the Philippines that began in 1898 ended with the United States in command of the Caribbean and in possession of a string of strategic Pacific Ocean islands girding the equator along the crucial naval routes to the Philippines, Japan, and mainland Asia. Where American gunboats sailed, American engineers, traders, and missionaries soon followed, and on occasion missionaries outpaced the rest. Between the mid 1890s and the First World War, at least nine American Holiness churches established missions abroad, including some with their own publications. The largest of these, the pioneering Church of God (Anderson, Indiana), established missions throughout Europe, Jamaica, the West Indies, Panama, British Guiana, China, India, Japan, Syria, and Egypt. The Hephzibah Faith Missionary Society, founded in 1896 in Tabor, Iowa, published its periodical Good Tidings and spread its message through India, Japan, and South Africa. The International Apostolic Church of Cincinnati, Ohio operated in South Africa, British Guiana, and the Lesser Antilles, and multiple Holiness missions redoubled the efforts of other Holiness missionaries in China, India, Japan, and South Africa, and also sought converts in Puerto Rico, Bolivia, Guatemala, Cuba, the Cape Verde Islands, and Swaziland. By 1913, there were 27,983 Christian workers of all nationalities and denominations in the Indian subcontinent alone.39

Missionaries in foreign lands immediately encountered the necessity of communicating in foreign languages, but few had the linguistic gifts or advanced language training necessary to do so effectively. The growing awareness (p.93) of the world's vast linguistic and religious diversity created a theological crisis for American Christians in general, and for one man in particular. As the Rev. Charles F. Parham noted in 1899, there were then 1.5 billion people in the world, but more than a billion of them had never been exposed to the Gospels or the “saving message of Christ.” Parham and a host of Holiness preachers set out to change that arithmetic.40

The chief theologian of what became the Pentecostal movement, Parham was a Kansas preacher and faith healer who had been born in 1873 and survived a sickly childhood in the central part of the state near Wichita. He briefly enrolled in the Methodist-affiliated Southwest Kansas Conference College in Winfield, Kansas, in his late teens before an attack of rheumatic fever convinced him of the efficacy of divine healing and confirmed his call to the ministry (fig. 3.1). He became a Methodist minister in Linwood, Kansas, from 1893 to 1895, but his enthusiasm for the message of the Holiness movement and the anti-denominational “come-outism” of the time led him to leave Methodism and set off on his own. He lived in Lawrence, Kansas, from 1894 to 1896, preached in nearby Ottawa, and married a member of his congregation named Sarah Thistlewaite. In 1898, they founded the Beth-El Healing Home in Topeka, the state capital, and provided training and a place to stay for people interested in faith healing.41

Figure 3.1 Evangelist Charles Fox Parham, as a young man. Kansan Parham's Topeka-based Beth El Bible School was the first to teach that miraculously acquired foreign languages would fulfill the story of Pentecost related in Acts 2:1-11. Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

The Parhams greatly desired to bridge the language barriers that plagued efforts to evangelize foreign peoples who spoke a multitude of tongues. In 1899, Parham was excited to discover an account in a Holiness periodical about Jennie Glassey, a member of Frank Sandford's Shiloh Holiness community near Durham, Maine. Glassey received a call to carry the Holiness message to Africa, and was said to have miraculously received the ability to speak in several African (p.94) dialects. Parham hailed this development as “the return of the apostolic faith,” referring to the account of Pentecost in Acts 2:1–11, when the Apostles had been able to converse with foreign Jews in foreign languages.42 On that day of Pentecost, the Bible recounts, there was a “sound from heaven” like “a rushing mighty wind” and there appeared “cloven tongues like of fire.” All the assembled “were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” There were Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem, and when they got wind of what had happened and came to witness it for themselves, they “were confounded, because . . . every man heard them speak in his own language.” The miracle of Pentecost, then, was not just that the Holy Ghost had given the Apostles the ability to speak in sacred tongues, but that the Holy Ghost had given them instantaneous knowledge of human languages.43

Thus, from its origins, the miracle of Pentecost was concerned with the problem of intercultural communication in the face of the Levant's linguistic diversity. In the Christian Bible, Pentecost was the antidote to the punishment of the babble of tongues that resulted from God's punishment to humanity for hubristically attempting to build a tower that would reach the heavens, as described in Genesis 11:1–9.44 According to the Book of Genesis, human linguistic diversity and human dispersal across the globe are both the result of God's willful desire to thwart intercultural understanding—lest human unity lead to coordinated attempts to usurp God's place in the heavens. The story of Babel and the story of tongues at Pentecost were both about divine intervention in human language, the former to create dispersion and incomprehensibility, the other to create unity and a miraculous transcendence of linguistic barriers. Moreover, the ethnographic diversity mentioned in Acts 2 would have been recognizable to Parham and other Holiness people as part of the contemporaneous Mediterranean, Asia Minor, and the Orient, with references to such places as Mesopotamia, Asia, Egypt, Libya, and Arabia.

Interested in learning more about the appearance of African languages in New England, Parham set off on a cross-country trip on June 9, 1900, heading east from Kansas through Chicago to New York and Maine. Parham's journey knit together the major Holiness centers of his time. Parham had participated in services with members of Benjamin Irwin's Fire-Baptized Holiness Church while still a Methodist minister. Now he traveled to Zion, Illinois, north of Chicago, to hear Alexander Dowie preach, and then continued to Nyack, New York, to hear A. B. Simpson of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. Finally, he arrived at Durham, Maine, where Frank Sandford led his “Holy Ghost and Us” church in a community he dubbed Shiloh. Sandford was a native of Maine born in 1862 who accepted the Methodist sanctification (p.95) teaching in the 1890s and traveled the globe as a missionary, becoming disheartened with the failures of missionary work he saw everywhere around him (fig. 3.2). He started Shiloh as a Bible school, in a large white house topped with towers and turrets, built with student labor, where students lived communally (fig. 3.4). After receiving apocalyptic messages in 1891, Sandford had increasingly focused on the Holy Land for clues to decoding God's plan for the End Times. In this he was aided by the books of C.A.L. Totten, a professor of military science at Yale University who sought to prove that the Anglo-Saxons were the Lost Tribes of Israel, using techniques of biblical exegesis and linguistic etymology. Like other Anglo-Israelites of his era, Totten believed that Anglo-American imperialism was a mark of God's favor, part of “the sacred history and independent chronology of a chosen people.”45 Sandford enthusiastically adopted the Anglo-Israelite theory. “We are Israelites but not Jews,” Sandford wrote in 1896, “and our national reunion as the twelve tribes of Israel is yet to take place.”46

Figure 3.2 Frank Sandford, leader of the revival at Shiloh, in Durham, Maine, where Jenny Glassey received the ability to speak in “the African dialect.” Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.


Figure 3.3 Shiloh, Sanford's school in Durham, Maine. Note the prayer tower, site of the vigil where the ability to speak in foreign languages was first received. Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

The Israelite theory heightened expectations at Shiloh for the imminent millennial return of Jesus Christ, and students remained on a “tiptoe of expectation” for the next several years.47 Moreover, the Anglo-Israelite theory supported the idea that the rapid expansion of American naval and commercial power in the 1890s was part of God's plan for the conquest of the entire globe by the alleged descendents of the ancient chosen people. Sandford called British and American imperialism part of “the sacred history and independent chronology of a chosen people,” and millennial expectations at Shiloh, Maine, were only heightened with the outbreak of the War of 1898, when the warship the USS Maine exploded in Havana harbor, leading to war and the conquest of an American overseas empire in Puerto Rico, the Pacific, and the Philippines.48

Sandford's identification with the ancient Israelites and his millennial expectations were heightened by his journeys to Jerusalem, the heart of the Biblical Levant and part of the modern Orient. While the War of 1898 raged, he received a message that he interpreted to be of divine origins instructing him to go to Jerusalem, and another to “Remove the covering,” a reference perhaps to Isaiah 25:7.49 With the protection of the newly ascendant American Navy, Sandford ventured to Jerusalem with one companion, where he received the insight that not only were Anglo-Saxons the chosen people but his Shiloh (p.97) settlement in Durham, Maine, with its slogan “‘Till Shiloh,” was the very Shiloh mentioned in Genesis 49:10.50 Sandford returned from Jerusalem with a renewed faith of his own role in fulfilling biblical prophecy. In order to be sure to receive any possible divine transmissions, Sandford installed his students in a continuous prayer vigil in one of the towers. It was in this heady, pressured atmosphere, filled with identifications with the ancient Israelites and expectations of the imminent return of the messiah, that Jenny Glassey first presented the ability to speak in what Parham referred to as “the African dialect”—as if there was only one. Parham reported that Glassey had received the “African dialect” in 1895, but he did not become aware of her gifts until 1899.51 That four-year gap is interesting in light of his patriarchal teachings, in that it would seem to indicate that speaking in tongues may have developed as part of a female counterculture within his own commune.52

Impressed with the speaking in tongues that he witnessed during the six weeks he spent at Shiloh, Charles Parham returned to Topeka and brought back Frank Sandford's teachings on constant prayer, Anglo-Israelism, and the possibility of miraculously acquiring knowledge of foreign languages. With the assistance of his wife, Parham started a new “Beth-El Bible School” in October 1900 in a large, grotesquely ornate Victorian mansion known as Stone's Folly that had a large tower much like the prayer tower at Shiloh (fig. 3.4).53 Parham and his students reviewed biblical texts concerning sanctification and divine healing and began to develop an understanding that the third work of baptism in the Holy Spirit following sanctification could be known by the gift of tongues that was experienced by the apostolic church on Pentecost, as described in the Book of Acts.54 Holiness preachers such as Charles Parham were excited about the coming of the Christian millennium, which different calendars placed anywhere between 1896 and 1901.

To mark the official start of the twentieth century according to the Roman calendar, Parham and his students held an all-night prayer vigil on December 31, 1900. As the third millennium began, a student named Agnes N. Ozman asked Parham to lay hands on her head and ask for her to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and given the gift of tongues. Sure enough, in the dawning hours of the first day of the twentieth century, Ozman began speaking in a language that the others identified as “the Chinese language.” Ozman was unable to speak English for three days, and when she tried to convey her experience in writing, she wrote what others in the group recognized as Chinese characters.55 They likewise saw Chinese characters in the shaky glyphs she wrote under the influence of the Spirit. “A Queer Faith: Strange Actions of the Apostolic Believers,” read the headline in the Topeka Daily Capital, five days later. (p.98)

Figure 3.4 Stone,s Folly, Topeka, Kansas, site of Parham,s Beth El Healing and Bible Schools. Note the tower, site of the prayer vigil where Agnes N. Ozman first received the gift of tongues. Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

One scandalized former member told the newspaper that, “the members who succeed in getting it talk to each other in a sort of senseless gibberish and write a strange system of shorthand or hieroglyphics, which they say is conveyed from God personally.”56 Other newspapers derisively referred to the tongues early Pentecostals produced as “laundry talk,” suggesting its similarity to the languages spoken by Chinese-born laundry workers throughout the West.57 Indeed, thinking the sounds Ozman produced were Chinese, Parham's group took a copy of Ozman's writings to a “Chinaman” in a Topeka laundry. But he was unable to decipher the markings, saying, in the newspaper's stereotyped account: “me no understand. Takee to a Jap.”58

Holiness people had been speaking in tongues on occasion for some time, but the Topeka outburst was the beginning of the modern Pentecostal movement, as Parham's group was one of the first to explain and spread the phenomenon as the fulfillment of Acts 2 and thus as a sign of the return of the church of the original Christian apostles.59

Beginning as it did with the (singular) “African dialect” and then continuing with the (singular) “Chinese language,” Parham's Pentecostal phenomenon of (p.99) xenoglossia occurred within the context of American Orientalism and was filtered through American ideas about Oriental and African foreignness. After Ozman received “the Chinese language,” other students also received the gift of xenoglossia, claiming to have acquired “Syrian, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic and other languages,” according to a skeptical account in the Topeka State Journal a week after the New Year's prayer vigil.60 The Orientalist nature of the phenomenon only grew as the revival progressed. After the revivalists moved to Galena, in the ethnically diverse mining region of southeast Kansas, journalists emphasized the classical and Orientalist nature of the spiritual philology at work in tongue-speaking, reporting that members spoke in Latin, Hebrew, Chinese, and “various other tongues.”61 Soon after Parham's band packed up and took their revival to Houston, Texas, in 1905, they claimed to have summoned forth twenty different Chinese dialects.62 At another revival the same year in Galveston, Parham's troupe spoke in an “African dialect” and “the Hindoo language.”63 Like the European and American Christian missionaries who had laboriously learned Oriental and African languages in order to evangelize their speakers, Parham and his students were in search of “missionary tongues” that would help spread the Christian message to foreign nations. Their objective was the same as that of Christian missionaries who learned Oriental languages, but they sought to achieve the same ends instantaneously through miraculous means.

Oriental languages were not the only languages the early Pentecostals claimed to speak, but such tongues make up either a plurality or a majority of the ones catalogued in the early accounts. As James R. Goff, Jr., has pointed out, Kansas at the time was a linguistically diverse place, which in 1870 had been more than 15 percent foreign born. Kansas had large numbers of Scandinavians, Bohemians, Germans, and French, and smaller numbers of Slavs, Hungarians, Bulgarians, Austrians, and Chinese. Parham's followers claimed to speak some or all of these languages, but “Oriental” tongues appeared far out of proportion to the representation of so-called Celestials (Chinese) in the population of northeast Kansas or Houston.64 Linguist William J. Samarin studied speaking in tongues among Pentecostals fifty years after Ozman's initial discovery, and found that the predilection for Oriental tongues might be due to their exoticism and the common association between the Orient and the spirit world. But linguistic explanations are also possible; Samarin reported the identification of xenoglossia with Oriental and also Romance languages could reflect “a superficial but rather accurate observation of the phonological patterns of the glossas being uttered,” noting that both language families have simpler syllabic structures than the long compound words of (p.100) Germanic languages. He also mentions a widespread belief among “occidental men-in-the-street” that Oriental languages have no grammar and that they have a distinctive singsong tonal quality (reminiscent of the “laundry talk” comment, or mocking schoolyard and comedic parodies of Chinese language as a collection of random, tonal utterances). “Since the speakers could not identify their own intonational patterns with anything they knew, they could only call it oriental,” Samarin writes. One of his informants reported that her glossa sounded like “an oriental chant.” “Indeed,” he concludes, “some tape recordings of glossolalia make one imagine romantic scenes from nineteenth-century plays of the exotic Far East.”65 Of course, it would make sense for Pentecostal tongues to remind one of nineteenth-century plays of the exotic Orient, since such plays were crucial vectors for spreading ideas about the East at the time when Pentecostal theology emerged in millennial, Holiness-infused, immigrant-rich, eastern Kansas.66

The Orient, Orientalism, and the ancient Israelites played an important part in Parham's thinking. He adopted Frank Sandford's identification with the ancient Israelites. Like Dowie, Sandford, and Crowdy, he claimed to be the second coming of the Prophet Elijah, and sometimes lectured in Kansas and Texas wearing “Palestinian robes,” illustrating the fact that late Victorians viewed the contemporary dress and customs of the modern Orient as accurate depictions of the biblical past. Lecturing in the first years of his Pentecostal ministry in Houston wearing a white linen robe, surrounded by fourteen of his students in clothing purchased in Palestine, Parham depicted the East in Orientalist terms as static and unchanging: “These costumes,” he said, “are the costumes worn in the Holy Land today as they were worn in Biblical times for the fashion never changes.”67 He then described each costume as well as “the habits of the people and the customs of the country of which the costumes were representative.”68 The costumes included that of a menial worker, an “Arab Sheik,” a “villager,” and a “high caste lady”; two styles of “beautiful Jewish shawls,”’ clothing of a “Jerusalem dude” and an official; a “garment of Ruth,” a Greek Orthodox robe; and the costumes of a girl of Bethlehem and a Turk. Parham's doctrine of speaking in tongues was, in his hands, only one part of a much more comprehensive attempt to recreate “primitive Christianity,” or the “apostolic faith,” as he called it. During his time in Houston, Parham and his followers paraded down the street wearing their Palestinian costumes, holding a large banner reading “Apostolic Faith Movement.”69 Within Pentecostalism, the “apostolic faith” would come to be associated with the “Oneness” theology that taught salvation through “Jesus’ name,” not through the Holy Trinity.70 Parham's embrace of “Eastern” ways suggest that (p.101) Orientalist ethnography—not simply the costumes but also the habits and customs of the Holy Land—became a central part of how he imagined the apostolic, biblical, past based on the Oriental present.

Like many Anglo-Israelites, Parham subscribed to the premillennialist doctrine that returning the Jews to the Holy Land would help initiate the messianic age, and he became obsessed with returning Jews to contemporary Palestine in order to bring the return of the messiah. Parham publicized Zionist founder Theodore Herzl's efforts to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine, arguing that the United States owed the Jews assistance in restoring a national homeland because they were both related by blood to the ancient tribes of Israel. Citing Psalms 137:5, 6, “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem,” Parham wrote, “We feel it an impossibility to describe to our readers the mingled feelings of joy and sadness . . . and probably no one but a Jew can understand the great love and affection that we bear Jerusalem. It amounts to a consuming passion. We long for her ancient glory, we pray for its restoration!” Parham described how he poured out his very soul in prayer for the “restoration” of Jerusalem and felt this prayer brought him “nearest to the heart of God” and into a “spirit of prophecy” like that of Ezekiel and Isaiah. “How glad we are for the work being done in the Zionist movement, under Dr. Herzel of Vienna, Austria!” Parham remarked in a book of sermons published in 1911.71 In fact, Parham's support for Zionism was so prominent that when his band began holding meetings in Texas, the Houston Chronicle remarked on their tongue speaking, their faith healing, and “their peculiar gospel, that of reclaiming Zion to the Jews.”72

Parham also sought to connect the biblical past to the Oriental present through archaeological excavations, with the aim of speeding the millennial reign of Jesus Christ. It was Parham's lifelong dream to conduct archaeological excavations in the Holy Land and to uncover Noah's Ark and the Ark of the Covenant, which he thought would be the only thing powerful enough to attract the world's Jews to Palestine and bring the return of Jesus Christ.73 He actually set out to make a journey to Palestine in 1908, but had to return to Kansas when a thief stole his wallet in New York City.74 And so this erstwhile Elijah who did so much to spark one of the largest religious movements of the twentieth century was undone by one of the new century's urban aggregations, places that the perfectionist-inspired Progressive movement and the Holiness-inspired Salvation Army were doing their best to reform. But the preacher persevered, and nineteen years later finally set off to see the Holy Land. When Parham finally did so, he initially found the Orient to be considerably less appealing in actuality than it had been in his imagination. Seeing (p.102) the squalor of Cairo from the train window, he felt a visceral sense of revulsion, mixed with a newfound patriotism. “Something seems to bubble up inside of me,” he wrote in his diary. “‘Are you not glad you live in America?’ I tell you, America for me!”75 But the more time he spent, and the more he was able to map biblical narratives onto the geography of modern Palestine, the more comfortable he became. “The longer I stay the more real everything becomes,” he wrote. “Now I can see each thing as it comes to me from the Bible, where it happened, the mountains, the lay of the land and towns. It makes the Bible all new.”76 The arid landscape reminded him of southern Texas, along the border with Mexico, and he was lost in a sensation of timelessness that was only interrupted by the modernization promoted by Jewish Zionist settlers. Despite the fine roads and small size of the country, “every time I go out I see something new and have to stop and think of old Bible times and pinch myself to see if I’m not living 2,000 or 3,000 years ago,” he wrote. Although “the incoming Jews bring all modern machinery, yet the old settlers here keep on plodding along with old tools.”77 Using technology as the metric of modernity, Parham drew a familiar Eurocentric and Orientalist dichotomy between the new Jewish settlers, overwhelmingly from Europe, and the long-established local residents.

Parham was clearly enchanted with the allegedly timeless quality of the Palestinian present and imagined himself an expert on its culture and customs on the basis of his three months of travel there. The Kansas preacher posed for a number of photos in picturesque Arab dress, including one photo dressed as Elijah at the top of the wilderness of brook Cherith, where the Hebrew prophet was fed by ravens in 1 Kings 17:1–6. He purchased 200 slides of Palestine, “showing its people, customs, and many of the holy places,” which he anticipated would allow him to give two different lectures on the Holy Land.78

Like Western Orientalists before and since, Parham framed the Orient within a set of received ideas about its timelessness and backwardness, a framework reinforced by the dichotomy between Zionist technological modernization and indigenous technological backwardness. This derogatory and Orientalist view of the Near East even expressed itself at the level of language: Parham referred to Arabic as “the junk of all languages,” but claimed to have spoken in tongues many times in Yiddish—a mixed tongue if ever there was one—and expected “God to give me a wonderful ministry among the Jews in Jerusalem.”79 Parham's views were not simply Orientalist and Zionist but, like Anglo-Israelites who came before him, actively pro-imperialist: he wrote that Anglo-Saxons, as the descendents of the ancient Israelites, were fulfilling the (p.103) imperialist prophecies that the Israelites would “push together the inhabitants of the earth to the ends thereof, possess it, yet retain the good will of him that dwelt in the bush.”80 For both Frank Sandford of Shiloh, Maine, and Charles Parham of the Great Plains, speaking in tongues was only one aspect of a return to the primitive Christianity of the Apostles within the context of the ideology of Anglo-Israelism, an ideology fueled both by sincere Christian piety and by derogatory Orientalist views about contemporary Near Eastern peoples.

The revivals led by Parham and Sandford were part of a global movement of Holiness revivals between 1898 and 1905 that featured speaking in tongues. After the initial visit during the War of 1898 that had first inspired him, Frank Sandford returned to the Orient in 1905, when he purchased a yacht and berthed off of Jaffa, Palestine, in order to begin a somewhat quixotic evangelization effort. With the press of the End Times upon him, there was no time to conduct the traditional, laborious, and slow process of evangelization. Therefore, Sandford decided to pray for God to convert the hearts of the world's peoples while anchored off the coasts of the world's continents. It was an expeditious, if chimerical, strategy. Anchored at the very spot where Jonah had set off on his ill-fated journey, Sandford's four-year voyage also hit rough seas. Increasingly authoritarian and delusional, attempting to avoid maritime authorities who threatened to arrest him if he set foot onshore, he drove the increasingly damaged ship into stormy seas, overloaded with too many passengers and not carrying enough food or water. Facing a mutiny and gale-force winds, the ship finally limped into port back in Maine. Six people died of scurvy and many more fell seriously ill. Sandford was convicted of causing their deaths and served seven years of a ten-year sentence in the federal penitentiary at Atlanta, Georgia.81

Christian missionary movements were some of the twentieth century's first and most significant transnational movements. International developments that shaped Pentecostalism included revivals in Wales and India in 1904 and 1905. In the words of evangelistic journalist Frank Bartleman, the Apostle Paul of the Pentecostal outburst, “The present world-wide revival was rocked in the cradle of little Wales. It was ‘brought up’ in India, following; becoming full grown in Los Angeles later.”82 The Welsh revival cohered around the figure of a charismatic preacher named Evan Roberts, a former miner and blacksmith who began having mystical visions in the midst of an ongoing revival in the spring of 1904. Roberts taught that the Baptism of the Holy Ghost could be realized personally, and that the revival was the beginning of a modern manifestation of the End Times spoken of in the story of (p.104) Pentecost found in Acts 2. The Welsh revival featured ecstatic worship and all of the familiar manifestations of the Spirit found in the past century of revivals: people slain in the spirit, thrown to the ground, unable to breathe, or unable to keep from singing, dancing, and weeping. Meetings lasted for hours and were almost completely spontaneous, featuring speaking and singing both in Welsh and in unknown tongues.83

Meanwhile, new revivals featuring speaking in tongues broke out in India, which had experienced Christian revivals since 1860. An Indian revival of 1904 broke out in the Khasi Hills in northeastern India, where Welsh Presbyterian missionaries were active in 1904, and another followed at a Christian mission for young widows and girls in Bombay run by Pandita Sarasvati Ramabai. Girls at the mission went to great lengths to induce altered states of consciousness, including singing, praying, clapping, and rolling on the floor. They beat themselves, jumped in place for hours, cried, and neither ate nor slept for days, causing school to be suspended. Those who attained trance states sustained them for as long as three or four days, and reported visions of a heavenly throne, a multitude robed in white, and blinding lights. At times, devotees spoke in tongues, and at other times colored lights seemed to appear over the heads of the ecstatic worshipers.84 News of revivals and tongue speaking in Kansas, Maine, Wales, and Bombay spread through the Holiness movement's preexisting transnational circuits of the printed word, attracting international attention and helping to spread millennial enthusiasms.

If it is true that Israelite beliefs spread through Christian networks, and since the Christian believers in Israelite descent included white ministers such as Frank Sandford and Charles Parham in addition to African American ones such as William Christian and William Crowdy, then one would expect to find white Israelite movements in addition to Black ones. Indeed, such movements appeared around the same time as their African American contemporaries. In addition to Sandford's Shiloh community, which developed Israelite beliefs in the 1890s, Benjamin and Mary Purnell founded the Israelite House of David in Benton Harbor, Michigan, in 1903.85 The Purnells believed themselves to be the seventh prophet in the line started by Joanna Southcott, and published a book in seven parts, each one promising to open one of the seven seals of Revelation, for the “ingathering and restoration of Israel.”86 They founded a thriving resort and sent circuit-riding preachers and bearded baseball players around the world to spread their beliefs, attracting other Southcott followers from as far away as Australia.87

The Pentecostal revival that broke out in Los Angeles in 1906 had many direct inspirations, inspirations that were both national and transnational, (p.105) both Orientalist and anti-racist. One impetus was the introduction of Parham's Pentecostal “latter rain” theology into a city that was primed for revival. In 1906, a small Black Holiness congregation led by Julia Hutchins summoned an African-American student of Charles Parham's named William Joseph Seymour to lead a revival. Seymour had attended several months of Parham's school, sitting in the open doorway in the hall in deference to Texas's Jim Crow laws barring him from sitting among the other students.88 Seymour had traveled west with his wife on a train ticket purchased by Parham and the other followers of the “apostolic faith” in Houston. But when he arrived in Los Angeles and preached Parham's theory that xenolalia was the sign of the baptism by the Holy Spirit, the church that had summoned him promptly threw him out. Holiness people believed they were already sanctified, and to preach that further evidence of sanctification was necessary was therefore blasphemous. Barred from formal places of worship, Seymour and his wife began to hold services where they were staying at a cottage on Bonnie Brae Street, to “a handful of colored and white saints,” in the words of journalist Frank Bartleman.89

Los Angeles already had a large body of Holiness churches thanks to the efforts of Phineas Bresee, who had founded the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene in 1895, and Joseph Smale, the head of the large First Baptist Church, who had visited the Welsh revival in 1905, bringing back its ardor and semi-anarchic pattern of worship. Thus, although the Seymours’ message fell on deaf ears among established Black churches in Los Angeles, it found a welcome audience among the city's more radical Holiness revivalists. The crowds at the little cottage on Bonnie Brae Street quickly grew, filled with both earnest penitents and skeptical curiosity seekers attracted by the novelty of speaking in tongues.90 When the crowds grew too large for the house, Seymour preached on the front porch, and when the weight of the excited congregants broke one of the floorboards, Seymour moved the assembly to an old church building that had been used as a warehouse in an industrial part of town, at 312 Azusa Street. There they lay planks on top of empty nail kegs and created seating for about thirty people, facing each other in a square (fig. 3.5). This was just before April 18, 1906, when 3,000 people lost their lives in the San Francisco earthquake less than four hundred miles to the north (although initial reports put the losses closer to 10,000 lives). Evangelist Frank Bartleman was among those who interpreted the San Francisco earthquake as divine retribution for the city's wickedness, and he promptly published a tract highlighting earthquakes in the Bible, spreading tens of thousands of copies throughout towns in southern California. In the weeks after the great earthquake, (p.106)

Figure 3.5 Leaders of the Azusa Street Mission, 1907. Seated in front (l-r): Sister Evans, Hiram W. Smith, William Seymour, Clara Lum. Second row, standing (l-r): unidentified woman, Brother Evans (reportedly the first man to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit at Azusa Street), Jennie Moore (later Mrs. William Seymour), Glenn A. Cook, Florence Crawford, unidentified man, and Sister Prince. Florence Crawford's daughter, Mildred, is seated in the front on Hiram Smith's lap. Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Bartleman brought his tract to the Azusa mission, and discovered a reverent, penitent, and interracial scene. When Bartleman first arrived, early in the revival, there were only a dozen “saints there, some white, some colored. Brother Seymour was there, in charge.” According to Bartleman, the proceedings were marked by humility and earnestness, and were largely spontaneous, with worship starting of its own accord. “At ‘Azusa Mission’ we had a powerful time,” he recalled. “The saints humbled themselves. A colored sister both spoke and sang in ‘tongues.’ The very atmosphere of Heaven was there.”91 As word of tongue-speaking spread throughout Holiness churches in Los Angeles, the crowds grew, and the gathering spread into a “tarrying room” upstairs, like the “upper rooms” used for prayer in Holiness communities from Shiloh to Topeka. “There were far more white people than colored coming. The ‘color line’ was washed away in the blood,” Bartleman wrote.92

William Seymour was the leader of the revival, but part of why it succeeded to the extent that it did was because of his retiring nature and relaxed leadership style (fig. 3.6). Scholars who have overemphasized Seymour's centrality in the rise of Pentecostalism have intended either to recognize African American contributions to history or to claim Pentecostalism's emotional (p.107)

Figure 3.6 William Seymour, who studied with Charles Parham in Houston and introduced Pentecostal teachings of xenolalia to Los Angeles at the revivals at Bonnie Brae and then Azusa Streets. Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

and spirit-filled mode of worship as part of longer cultural continuities with Africa. At their simplest, such arguments devolve into a simple invidious comparison between Charles Parham and William Seymour that largely ignore Pentecostalism's long theological continuities, social movements, and transnational revivals that spanned eras, continents, and races. Moreover, such narratives have unjustly ignored the Black women who did just as much or more than William Seymour to introduce Pentecostalism to Los Angeles. Seymour's journey west followed the trips of two African American women who had worshiped with Parham's followers in Houston and then returned to their homes in Los Angeles. Seymour came out to southern California at the behest of one of them, Mrs. Neeley Terry, a Black follower of white Holiness preacher Phineas Bresee of the Los Angeles-based Church of the Nazarene. Terry met Seymour while visiting relatives in Houston and received the gift of tongues at Parham's Bible School in Houston—long before pastor Seymour, (p.108) who did not speak in tongues until the Azusa revival was well underway. Nor did Seymour find places to preach on his own: the couple that provided Seymour with a place to hold services on Bonnie Brae Street were relatives of Mrs. Terry's.93 There was no platform or pulpit at the simple Azusa Street mission (fig. 3.7), and Seymour was a godly and humble man who was retiring to a fault and spent most of the meetings with his head inside of an empty shoe crate, in prayer. All were brothers and sisters in the spirit. “Brother Seymour was recognized as the nominal leader in charge,” Bartleman reported. “But we had not pope or hierarchy. We had no human programme. The Lord himself was leading. We had no priest class, nor priest craft. . . . All were on a level.”94 In contrast to the segregated seating in Parham's Houston school, the Azusa Street revival boasted a form of radical egalitarianism, which during the Jim Crow era could only be found in African American neighborhoods and other communities of color. Nonetheless, the revival attracted people of all races from the very start, but met with disfavor from Los Angeles’ established Black churches.

Crucially for the success of Pentecostalism, Azusa Street's revival transformed Parham's racial identification with the ancient Israelites and his Orientalist view of speaking in tongues. Influenced by its African American and interracial composition, the collective shed Parham's racial identification with the ancient Israelites, and adopted egalitarian, anarchic, and ecstatic modes of worship—not demonstrably borrowed from Africa, but rather from

Figure 3.7 The Azusa Street Mission, site of the revival that spread Pentecostal speaking in tongues across much of the Holiness movement. Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

(p.109) Wales and India. The Los Angeles revival likewise shed Parham's Orientalist view of speaking in tongues as a means to acquire foreign, especially “Eastern” languages, and instead embraced even seemingly nonsensical tongues as evidence of baptism by the Holy Spirit. Both of these moves disgusted Charles Parham, and caused him to repudiate the Pentecostal movement that he did so much to inspire. At the start, this little revival bore some of the Orientalist hallmarks of its forebears: back at the cottage on Bonnie Brae Street, Seymour's future wife, Jennie Evans Moore, had impressed the stunned Los Angelenos by playing the piano and singing in a series of six languages, one of which she identified as Hebrew.95 A young couple who visited Azusa claimed to have miraculously acquired Bengali, Hindustani, Tibetan, and Chinese.96 But as the revival progressed, it rapidly lost its Orientalist pretensions, adopting a more egalitarian view of humanity and a more eclectic view of glossolalia as not primarily a facsimile of human language but rather as a mode of communication with the divine, not with humans. As Bartleman described it, the gift of tongues “was a spontaneous manifestation and rapture no earthly tongue can describe.”97 Bartleman, who through his journalism became the primary evangelist of the new Pentecostal movement, defended its glossolalia as a new form of wordless communication. “Was not sound given before language?” he asked. “And is there not intelligence without language also?”98 The “new song” of the Azusa Street revival was “altogether different,” Bartleman maintained, “not of human composition.”99 The skeptics seemed to agree that these new utterances were not language, even if they recognized that something newsworthy had occurred. “Breathing strange utterances and mouthing a creed which it would seem no sane mortal could understand, the newest religious sect has started in Los Angeles,” reported the Los Angeles Daily Times.100

Indeed, it was this lack of correspondence to human language that drew the condemnation of Parham when he visited the Los Angeles revival. For Parham, tongues had to be intelligible human languages for them to be authentic recreations of the Pentecost of Acts 2. Only a genuine Pentecost would signal the return of apostolic times, with Anglo-Saxons as the heirs to the ancient Israelites. But the Azusa revival shared neither Parham's vision of Acts 2 nor his exclusionary racial ideology. Newspapers printed sensationalist accounts of intimate interracial contact in the “upper room” at Azusa, designed to shock racist readers. Parham, for one, was appalled by Azusa's racial integration. “I have seen meetings where all crowded together around the altar, and laying across one another like hogs, Blacks and white mingling;” he commented some years later, “this should be enough to bring a blush of shame (p.110) to devils, let alone angels.”101 Seymour warmly introduced his former teacher to the assembled Azusa Street participants, but Parham condemned the proceedings and did not fit in with the humble and egalitarian mood of the Los Angeles revivalists. They soon asked the first Pentecostal theologian to leave, and he established a rival revival at the local YMCA.102

The partial and incomplete conversion of the Holiness movement to Pentecostalism signaled an important departure from speaking in known human languages to speaking in tongues that frequently had no worldly equivalent. This shift was part of a transition from often dictatorial male Holiness preachers, prophets, and sect leaders to member-driven, female-dominated, charismatic Pentecostal ritual practices. It was precisely the eclipse of charismatic and controversial Holiness leaders that allowed the Pentecostal movement to flourish, shifting the Holiness tongues movement from authoritarian and theocratic male leaders, with narrow understandings of xenoglossia, to more democratic leadership and more inclusive practices of glossolalia. These critical shifts allowed Pentecostalism to surmount the limits and personalities of charismatic preachers and to harness raging democratic spiritual energies, spirit-filled charismatic ritual practices, and multilinguistic diversity—first of America, and then of the world. In the 1960s and 1970s, Pentecostalism inspired charismatic, tongues-filled movements within mainline Protestant denominations as well as the Roman Catholic Church. By the end of the twentieth century, Pentecostals and their charismatic fellow travelers accounted for an amazing 23 percent of the United States’ population and one-quarter of the world's one billion Christians, with growing communities in the “global South” of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.103

Numerous scholars have attempted to make the case that Pentecostal speaking in tongues was an expression of a particularly Black form of worship with roots in African religions retained in the Americas. In truth, African American influences on Pentecostalism are far deeper and far different. It was John Wesley's journey to America, and partly his failed attempts to minister to Native Americans and African Americans, that led him to his doctrine of perfectionism that became Methodism. Africans and their descendants contributed uniquely enthusiastic forms of worship to American Christianity.104 African Americans played key roles in spreading both Methodism and Holiness teachings throughout nineteenth-century revivals. But there is nothing explicitly or solely African about spirit possession, anarchic styles of worship, or Pentecostal speaking in tongues. In truth, the development of Pentecostalism was transnational, interracial, and polycultural.

(p.111) Speaking in tongues or catching the Spirit was not something that all Black people in America knew how to do at the turn of the twentieth century, even though ecstatic worship was commonplace among enslaved Africans.105 Rather, as Wallace Best and Milton Sernett have shown, many early twentieth-century Black churches had to learn how to catch the Spirit.106 Although two Black women and one Black man spread Parham's teachings from Houston to Los Angeles, within days there were more whites than Blacks at the Azusa Street revival, and Pentecostalism spread through preexisting networks of (majority-white) Holiness ministers, missionaries, lay people, and journalists. Los Angeles's more established Black churches rejected the revival and its embarrassingly emotional and allegedly undignified ways of worship. Spirit possession upset the formal, even staid form of worship favored by many Black Americans since the end of slavery, when the community placed a premium on “respectability” in an effort to disprove the racist doctrine of white supremacy. A historical argument of African origins based on simple homologies between contemporary Pentecostal and contemporary African modes of spirit possession ignores similar homologies with European, Native American, and Asian spirit possession practices, overlooks the long history of theological perfectionism around the world, replaces the African past with the African present, and devalues the creativity of African-Americans, who did not live in what anthropologist Melville Herskovits termed a sterile “laboratory” simply remixing outside inputs from Europe, Africa, and Asia.107 Instead, the Pentecostal revival demonstrates the saliency of volitional, fictive, and imagined Israelism and Orientalism in America, as well as the transnational, polycultural, and interracial nature of American cultural formation.

The popularity of the Holiness movement waned but did not disappear with the rise of its more popular Pentecostal offspring. Many Holiness people never accepted the Pentecostal teaching that speaking in tongues was evidence of baptism in the Holy Spirit. And the Holiness template of charismatic leaders invested with prophetic and quasi-messianic powers by their followers continued into the twentieth century, providing models for Sweet Daddy Grace, Elder Michaux, Father Divine, Rabbi Wentworth Arthur Matthew, and postwar Black Israelite leaders such as Ben Ami.

The Holiness camp meetings, revivals, and fiery preachers of the nineteenth century had produced a potent culture of biblical literalism and explosive theological innovations. Some results of that culture were the Israelite Holiness churches that attempted to recreate the apostolic church and that traced their ancestry back to the ancient Hebrews. Another, much larger, effect was the bloom of Pentecostal movements that took America and the (p.112) world by storm. Living in the fertile intersection between biblical exegesis, Israelism, and Orientalist ethnography, early Holiness-Pentecostals imagined themselves to be communicating with people on the other side of the world, speaking in tongues that they understood to have fallen from heaven like cloven tongues of fire, as in apostolic times. As the young country sought new frontiers and conquered new peoples in the East, its spirit-filled evangelicals traced the same circuits of empire and brought a new belief system—from Maine, Chicago, Wales, Bombay, Kansas, Houston, and Los Angeles—to the world.


(1.) Iain MacRobert, The Black Roots and White Racism of Early Pentecostalism in the USA (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988); Ithiel C. Clemmons and Adrienne M. Israel, Bishop C. H. Mason and the Roots of the Church of God in Christ (Bakersfield, Cal.: Pneuma Life, 1996).

(2.) There is now a long literature on Orientalism's impact in American culture in general and African American culture specifically. For the former, see note 36 below. On Orientalism within African American culture, see Reginald Kearney, African American Views of the Japanese: Solidarity or Sedition? (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998); Vijay Prashad, Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting: Afro-Asian Connections and the Myth of Cultural Purity (Boston: Beacon, 2001); Robin D. G. Kelley, Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination (Boston: Beacon, 2002); Bill V. Mullen, Afro-Orientalism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004); Jayna Brown, Babylon Girls: Black Women Performers and the Shaping of the Modern (Durham: Duke University Press, 2008).

(3.) Amiri Baraka considered the African inheritance in African American culture, suggesting that tangible attributes of African cultures did not survive the Middle Passage, but that African aesthetic sensibilites remain in Black music. For more on the debates over African “retentions” in the Americas, see the introduction. Amiri Baraka, Blues People: Negro Music in White America (New York: W. Morrow, 1963).

(4.) Vinson Synan, The Holiness Pentecostal Tradition: Charismatic Movements in the Twentieth Century (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans, 1997), xi, 6–7, 15.

(5.) Ibid., 4–5.

(6.) John Wesley, Journal of John Wesley, vol. 1, p. 455, cited ibid., 4.

(7.) John Wesley, The Works of John Wesley, vol. 1, p. 103, cited ibid., 4–5.

(8.) Ibid., 7.

(9.) David Hempton, Methodism: Empire of the Spirit (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006), 19.

(10.) Synan, The Holiness Pentecostal Tradition, 28; Kathryn T. Long, “Palmer, Phoebe Worrall,” in Historical Dictionary of the Holiness Movement, ed. William C. Kostlevy (Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2001), 196–198.

(11.) Hempton, Methodism, 1–2.

(12.) David D. Daniels, III, “Pentecostalism,” in Encyclopedia of African American Religions, ed. Larry G. Murphy, J. Gordon Melton, and Gary L. Ward (New York: Garland, 1993), 586.

(13.) Synan, The Holiness Pentecostal Tradition, 16–20.

(14.) Robert Maples Anderson, Vision of the Disinherited (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979), 29–30.

(15.) Synan, The Holiness Pentecostal Tradition, 23, 26, 31–34.

(16.) Ibid., 35, 42.

(17.) Grant Wacker, Heaven Below: Early Pentecostals and American Culture (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001), 1.

(18.)  Daniels, “Pentecostalism,” 587; Synan, The Holiness Pentecostal Tradition, 40; James T. Campbell, Songs of Zion: The African Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States and South Africa (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 44–51. The first African American Holiness denomination was the Zion Union Apostolic Church, founded in 1869 and reorganized in 1881. See: United States Bureau of the Census, Religious Bodies…: Separate Denominations: History, Description, and Statistics (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1910), 483–484.

(19.)  The Christian Faith Band eventually became a Pentecostal church, The Church of God (Apostolic). See Daniels, “Pentecostalism,” 586. Merle D. Strege, “Church of God (Anderson, Indiana),” in Historical Dictionary of the Holiness Movement, ed. William C. Kostlevy (Lanham, Md: Scarecrow Press, 2001), 51–52.

(20.) James R. Goff, Jr., Fields White unto Harvest: Charles F. Parham and the Missionary Origins of Pentecostalism (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1988), 19–20.

(21.) Noting the strained ecological and economic setting that gave rise to radical Holiness groups is intended not to assert the existence of a more fundamental economic or material reality underlying theological movements, but rather to note the hardships that accompanied them and perhaps made hard-pressed farmers more interested in radical other-worldly doctrines promising relief from worldly suffering.

(22.) Synan, The Holiness Pentecostal Tradition, 36–37.

(23.) Daniels, “Pentecostalism,” 588; Synan, The Holiness Pentecostal Tradition, 54–58.

(24.) James E. Landing, Black Judaism: Story of an American Movement (Durham, N.C.: Carolina Academic Press, 2002), 46.

(25.) David D. Daniels, “Charles Harrison Mason: The Interracial Impulse of Early Pentecostalism,” in Portraits of a Generation: Early Pentecostal Leaders, ed. James R. Goff, Jr., and Grant Wacker (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2002), 259.

(26.) Alexander Campbell, The Christian System: In Reference to the Union of Christians, and a Restoration of Primitive Christianity, as Plead in the Current Reformation (Cincinnati: Standard Publishing, 1839), 118.

(27.) Bishop Christian cited Psalms 119:83, Job 30:30, Jeremiah 8:12, Numbers 12:1, and other scriptures in support of the assertion that the ancient Hebrews were Black.

(28.) William Christian, Poor Pilgrim's Work, In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost on Christian Friendship Works No. 3, First Man and Woman: Fallen Angels, or Gentiles in the Land of Nod; Adam and Eve are the Starting Point of the Black People: And Other Important Things (Texarkana, Ark.: Joe Ehrlich's Print, 1896), 2, 4. Christian cites Job 1:6–12, Job 2:1–6, Rev. 12:7–9 to support the idea that whites were descended from fallen angels.

(29.) Ibid., 6.

(30.) Ibid., 19.

(31.) Ibid., 23–24, 8. Christian cites Rev. 18: 1–24 and James 5:1–3.

(32.) Ithiel C. Clemmons and Adrienne M. Israel, Bishop C. H. Mason and the Roots of the Church of God in Christ, centennial ed. (Bakersfield, Cal.: Pneuma Life, 1996).

(33.) Landing, Black Judaism, 45–50; Elmer T. Clark, The Small Sects in America (New York: Abingdon-Cokebury, 1937), 120–121.

(34.) To the best of my knowledge, no one has noted this link between Bishops Crowdy and Cherry in print. Arthur Huff Fauset, Black Gods of the Metropolis: Negro Religious Cults of the Urban North [1944] (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002), 34.

(35.) Ordination certificate for W. O. Dickens, in “Miscellaneous” folder of the W. A. Matthew Collection, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.

(36.) There is now much literature on Orientalism's impact on American culture. See Edward Said, Orientalism (New York: Pantheon, 1978); William Leach, Land of Desire: Merchants, Power, and the Rise of a New American Culture (New York, Vintage, 1993); John Kuo Wei Tchen, New York before Chinatown: Orientalism and the Shaping of American Culture 1776–1882 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999); Holly Edwards, ed., Noble Dreams, Wicked Pleasures: Orientalism in America, 1870–1930 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000); Timothy Marr, The Cultural Roots of American Islamicism (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006); Susan Nance, How the Arabian Nights Inspired the American Dream, 1790–1935 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009).

(37.) Rev. Stephen D. Peet, ed., “The Scope of Our Journal” (unsigned editorial), Oriental and Biblical Journal (Chicago) 1, no. 1 (January 1880): 22–23.

(38.) Alfred Thayer Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power on World History, 1660–1783 (Boston: Little, Brown, 1890).

(39.) Foreign Missions Conference of North America, Foreign Missions Conference of North America: Being the Report of the Twenty-Fifth Conference of Foreign Mission Boards in the United States and Canada (Garden City, N.Y.: Foreign Missions Conference, 1918), 434–436, 275–276.

(40.) Goff, Fields White unto Harvest, 72.

(41.) Anderson, Vision of the Disinherited, 49; Goff, Fields White unto Harvest, 72; Sarah E. Parham, ed., The Life of Charles F. Parham: Founder of the Apostolic Faith Movement [1930] (New York: Garland, 1985).

(42.) Charles Parham, Apostolic Faith (Topeka) 1 (June 21, 1899): 4, cited in Goff, Fields White unto Harvest, 73.

(43.) “And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.” Acts 2:1–6; Acts 2:7–11 (KJV).

(44.) “And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.” Genesis 11:6–9 (KJV).

(45.) William Charles Hiss, “Shiloh: Frank W. Sandford and the Kingdom: 1898–1948,”(Ph.D. dissertation, Tufts University, 1978, 166–169.

(46.) Ibid., 170. Wacker, Heaven Below, 5, 256.

(47.) Hiss, “Shiloh”, 170.

(48.) Ibid., 168–169, 181.

(49.) Isaiah 25:7: “And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations.” Shirley Nelson and Rudy Nelson, “Frank Sandford: Tongues of Fire in Shiloh, Maine,” in Portraits of a Generation: Early Pentecostal Leaders, ed. James R. Goff, Jr., and Grant Wacker (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2002), 62. The Nelsons reproduce the scriptural reference slightly differently. They also place Sandford's acceptance of Totten's Anglo-Israelite theory in Jerusalem, which is belied by the fact that he espoused the theory in print as early as 1896. See Hiss, Shiloh, 168–170.

(50.) Genesis 49:10: “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” Nelson and Nelson, “Frank Sandford,” 63.

(51.) Goff, Fields White unto Harvest, 73.

(52.) Wacker, Heaven Below, 28, 172.

(53.) Anderson, Vision of the Disinherited, 49.

(54.) The passages are Acts 2:4, 10:46; 19:6; 1 Corinthians 14:1–33. Synan, The Holiness-Pentecostal Tradition, 91; Anderson, Vision of the Disinherited, 52–57; Goff, Fields White unto Harvest, 66–72.

(55.) Charles F. Parham, “The Later Rain: The Story of the Origin of the Original Apostolic or Pentecostal Movements,” in Parham, The Life of Charles F. Parham, 52–53.

(56.) “A Queer Faith: Strange Actions of the Apostolic Believers: Are Inspired From God: The Believers Speak a Strange Language and Write a Strange Hand – S.J. Riggins’ Extraordinary Statement,” Topeka Daily Capital, January 6, 1901, 2.

(57.) “Converts in Zion City Get ‘Gift of Tongues’,” miscellaneous news clippings in Parham Family Scrapbook, personal possession of Mrs. Pauline Parham, Dallas, Texas, cited in Goff, Jr., Fields White unto Harvest, 37.

(58.) “A Queer Faith,” 2; Wacker, Heaven Below, 47.

(59.) Synan, The Holiness-Pentecostal Tradition, 91; Anderson, Vision of the Disinherited, 53.

(60.) Topeka State Journal, January 7, 1901, 4, 7.

(61.) “Wonderful Cures in Kansas,” from Cincinnati Enquirer and Joplin News Herald (Galena, Kan.), January 27, 1904, in Parham, The Life of Charles Parham, 98.

(62.) Synan places the outbreak of multiple “Chinese” tongues in Houston; Parham's own account, written some years later, places the account of twenty Chinese dialects in the original Topeka revival. Synan, The Holiness-Pentecostal Tradition, 94; Parham, “The Later Rain,” 54.

(63.) Parham, The Life of Charles F. Parham, 131.

(64.) Although Parham and later Pentecostals believed that the tongues they received were spiritual gifts, some scholars have explained the phenomenon through a process known as cryptomnesis, in which the brain stores hidden memories of language in the brain, which are only dislodged under stress. Linguists have also determined that glossas are neither gibberish nor language, properly speaking, as they lack grammar, syntax, and systematic connections to the world. William J. Samarin, Tongues of Men and Angels: The Religious Language of Pentecostalism (New York: Macmillan, 1972), 115–128.

(65.) Ibid., 108–109.

(66.) Marr, The Cultural Roots of American Islamicism; Michael B. Oren, Power, Faith and Fantasy: America in the Middle East: 1776 to the Present (New York: W. W. Norton: 2007); Nance, How the Arabian Nights Inspired the American Dream.

(67.) Parham, The Life of Charles F. Parham, 133.

(69.) Rufus G. W. Sanders, William Joseph Seymour: 1870–1922 (Sandusky, Ohio: Xulon Press for Alexandria Press, 2003), 68.

(70.) Allan Anderson, An Introduction to Pentecostalism: Global Charismatic Christianity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 50.

(71.) Charles F. Parham, A Voice Crying in the Wilderness (Baxter Springs, Kan.: R. L. Parham, 1944), reprinted in The Sermons of Charles F. Parham, “The Higher Christian Life” Sources for the Study of the Holiness, Pentecostal, and Keswick Movements, ed. Donald W. Dayton (New York: Garland, 1985), 101.

(72.) “Houstonians Witness the Performance of Miracles. Mysticism Surrounds Work of Apostles of Faith—Speak in All Tongues Known to Man,” Houston Chronicle, August 13, 1905, in Parham, The Life of Charles F. Parham, 122.

(73.) Parham, A Voice Crying, 103.

(74.) Goff, Fields White unto Harvest, 146.

(75.) Parham, The Life of Charles F. Parham, 361.

(76.) Ibid., 373.

(77.) Ibid., 376.

(78.) Ibid., 396. Parham's ambition to make a living from the cultural capital gained through travels in the Orient followed an established model in American popular culture, whereby even travelers who had spent very little time in the Orient represented themselves as experts and made good livings on the lecture circuit. See Nance, How the Arabian Nights Inspired the American Dream, 58–82.

(79.) Charles F. Parham, The Everlasting Gospel (Baxter Springs, Kan.: Apostolic Faith Bible College, 1911) in The Sermons of Charles F. Parham, 66–67.

(80.) Parham, A Voice Crying, 107.

(81.) Nelson and Nelson, “Frank Sandford,” 66–67.

(82.) Frank Bartleman, Azusa Street (Plainfield, N.J.: Logos International, 1980), 19.

(83.) Keith Robbins, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales: The Christian Church 1900–2000 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 93–94; Anderson, An Introduction to Pentecostalism, 36; Eifon Evans, The Welsh Revival of 1904 (Bridgend: Evangelical Press of Wales, 1969), 190–196; Wacker, Heaven Below, 21, 102, 256.

(84.) Bartleman, Azusa Street, 35; Anderson, An Introduction to Pentecostalism, 37; Wacker, Heaven Below, 43.

(85.) Goff, Fields White unto Harvest, 57, 101; Clare Adkin, Jr., Brother Benjamin: A History of the Israelite House of David (Berrien Springs, Mich.: Andrews University Press, 1990).

(86.) Benjamin Franklin Purnell and Mary Purnell, The Seven Books of Wisdom (Benton Harbor, Mich.: Israelite House of David, c. 1914), ii; accessed on http://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015071584125.

(87.) Adkin, Brother Benjamin; Elaine Cotsirilos Thomopoulos, Images of America: St. Joseph and Benton Harbor (Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, 2003), 117–122; Rebecca Alpert, Out of Left Field: Jews and Black Baseball (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).

(88.) Wacker, Heaven Below, 232.

(89.) Bartleman, Azusa Street, 43.

(90.) Vinson Synan, “Frank Bartleman and Azusa Street,” in Bartleman, Azusa Street, xi; Bartleman, Azusa Street, 19.

(91.) Bartleman, Azusa Street, 51–52.

(92.) Ibid., 53. Ironically, Pentecostal scholars have frequently cited Bartleman's vivid phrase about the color line without his preceding sentence, which significantly alters its import.

(93.) Sanders, William Joseph Seymour, 68–73.

(94.) Bartleman, Azusa Street, 57–58.

(95.) Synan, The Holiness-Pentecostal Tradition, 96.

(96.) Wacker, Heaven Below, 49.

(97.) Bartleman, Azusa Street, 56.

(99.) Ibid., 57.

(100.) “Weird Babel of Tongues: New Sect of Fanatics Is Breaking Loose—Wild Scene Last Night on Azusa Street—Gurgle of Worldless Talk by a Sister,” Los Angeles Daily Times, April 18, 1906, 1.

(101.) Parham, Sermons of Charles F. Parham, 72.

(102.) Wacker, Heaven Below, 42.

(103.) Spirit and Power: A 10-Country Survey of Pentecostals (Washington, D.C.: Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, October 2006), 3–10.

(104.) Albert Raboteau, Slave Religion: The “Invisible Institution” in the Antebellum South (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 10–11, 17, 19, 20, 27–28, 35–36, 44–92; Charles Joyner, Down By the Riverside: A South Carolina Slave Community (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1984), 141–144.

(105.) Milton C. Sernett, Black Religion and American Evangelicalism: White Protestants, Plantation Missions, and the Flowering of Negro Christianity, 1787–1865 (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press and the American Theological Library Association, 1975), 104–105. Iain MacRobert is not the only one to reductively equate emotionalism with Africanism in Black worship; see also Walter F. Pitts, Jr., Old Ship of Zion: The Afro-Baptist Ritual in the African Diaspora (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993).

(106.) Milton Sernett, Bound for the Promised Land: African American Religion and the Great Migration (Durham: Duke University Press, 1997), 4, 29, 190; Wallace D. Best, Passionately Human, No Less Divine: Religion and Culture in Black Chicago, 1915–1952 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005), 57–59, 98–101.

(107.) Melville Jean Herskovits, The Myth of the Negro Past (Boston: Beacon, 1941), 10, 93.