Perhaps no other group of people has been as much formed by biblical texts and tropes as African Americans. From literature and the arts to popular culture and everyday life, the Bible courses through black society and culture like blood through veins. Despite the enormous recent interest in African American religion, relatively little attention has been paid to the diversity of ways in which African Americans have utilized the Bible.
African Americans and the Bible is the fruit of a four-year collaborative research project directed by Vincent L. Wimbush and funded by the Lilly Endowment. It brings together scholars and experts (sixty-eight in all) from a wide range of academic and artistic fields and disciplines--including ethnography, cultural history, and biblical studies as well as art, music, film, dance, drama, and literature.
The focus is on the interaction between the people known as African Americans and that complex of visions, rhetorics, and ideologies known as the Bible. As such, the book is less about the meaning(s) of the Bible than about the Bible and meaning(s), less about the world(s) of the Bible than about how worlds and the Bible interact--in short, about how a text constructs a people and a people constructs a text. It is about a particular sociocultural formation but also about the dynamics that obtain in the interrelation between any group of people and sacred texts in general. Thus African Americans and the Bible provides an exemplum of sociocultural formation and a critical lens through which the process of sociocultural formation can be viewed.