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The Bible in American Life$
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Philip Goff, Arthur Farnsley, and Peter Thuesen

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190468910

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190468910.001.0001

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The Origins of Whiteness and the Black (Biblical) Imagination

The Origins of Whiteness and the Black (Biblical) Imagination

The Bible in the “Slave Narrative” Tradition

(p.81) 6 The Origins of Whiteness and the Black (Biblical) Imagination
The Bible in American Life

Emerson B. Powery

Oxford University Press

This essay contextualizes William Anderson’s 1857 account on 2 Kings—a passage he claimed supports the origins of whiteness—by situating his discussion in the broader ideological context of the period. After a brief analysis of the “curse of Ham” motif in representative slave narratives (the “curse of Ham” myth was one of the more popular biblical ideas to support the peculiar institution), the essay turns to Anderson and his contemporaries. In a country that considered itself to be a “Christian Nation,” these Americans—without the rights of full citizenship—wrestled with their Bible and discovered interpretations that allowed for potential liberating possibilities for their cause and their own lives. Finally, the essay discusses some hermeneutical implications of this African-American approach to the biblical text in light of the topic of this essay on racial origins.

Keywords:   slave narrative, Bible, curse of Ham, peculiar institution

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