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Epistemologies Opaque: Conjuring, Conjecture, and the Problematic of Nat Turner’s Biblical Hermeneutic

  • James A. Noel
Chapter
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Part of the Black Religion/Womanist Thought/Social Justice book series (BRWT)

Abstract

I pointed out in chapter two that whites constructed themselves over and against blacks who appeared in the consciousness of the former as the “empirical Other.” In chapter six I discussed Du Bois’s description of how blacks experienced the distinction between their own subjectivity and the externally imposed empirical self as “double consciousness.” What I wish to assert at this point is that since whites are never aware of their own identity as dependent upon the one they created over against the black empirical Other, they never fully comprehend the true nature of their own social construction. Furthermore, since whiteness has been such an integral part of their religious identity, they never fully comprehend the relationship between their religious with their racial sensibility. The curious thing is that this is maintained and reproduced through the positing and presupposition of white religion as normative. Thus whites can never pierce beneath the veil to encounter the “mysterium tremendum” of black religion because in so doing they would necessarily have to overcome the epistemological divide that always constitutes the Other in their consciousness as an empirical object rather than as a subject. Therefore, we must remind ourselves that throughout this study we are never looking at black religion in and of itself or in isolation to its white counterpart.

Keywords

Reading Strategy Biblical Text Materialist Reading Biblical Passage Fictive Truth 
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Notes

  1. 2.
    Theophus H. Smith, Conjuring Culture: Biblical Formation of Black Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997).Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Joseph Washington, Black Religion, the Negro and Christianity in the United States (Boston: Beacon Press, 1964), p. 33.Google Scholar
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    Nat Turner, Chronicles of Black Protest (New York: The New American Library, 1969), pp. 64–74.Google Scholar
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    Edgar I. McKnight, Post-Modern Use of the Bible (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1988), p. 39.Google Scholar
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    Fredric Jameson, The Political Unconscious (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1982), p. 31.Google Scholar
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    Terry Eagleton, Literary Theory (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996), pp. 54–55.Google Scholar
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    Robert Coote, The Bible’s First History (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 1989), pp. 129–130.Google Scholar
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    Jonathan Culler, On Deconstruction (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1983) p. 81.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© James A. Noel 2009

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  • James A. Noel

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