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


Although very few scholars of black religion have heeded his advice, Charles H. Long has been recommended situating the study of black religion within the Atlantic World’s geo-temporal framework for quite some time. In 1983 Winthrop S. Hudson had called for situating the study of black religion within its broader American context. One foci of his criticism were scholars who, in his estimation, overemphasized the African roots of black religion. Hudson felt this trend would only produce diminishing returns due to, among other factors, the limited amount of historical data pertaining to African religions during the period of African’s transport to the Americas. Hudson felt historians should “shift their focus from possible distant antecedents to less remote forebears who adopted Christian faith in the midst of desperate circumstances and fashioned from it a church life of their own.”1 He noted that this preoccupation with African retentions has its parallel in the tendency among white church historians, particularly Protestants, to attribute the character of their ecclesiastical bodies to as remote historical origins as possible. What Hudson does not say, but something we can easily observe, is that the preoccupation with origins lying somewhere in antiquity—that is, the Apostolic period—conforms very easily with white supremacist’s preoccupation over purity.


Christian Faith Black Church Master Narrative Gift Exchange African American Culture 
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  1. 1.
    Winthrop S. Hudson, “The American context as an Area for Research in Black Church Studies,” Church History 52 no. 2 (1983), p. 157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 3.
    See for example: Lawrence W. Levine, “African Culture and Slavery in the United States”; Albert J. Raboteau, “African Religions in America: Theoretical Perspectives,” in Global Dimension of the African Diaspora, Second Edition, ed. Joseph E. Harris (Washington, DC: Howard University Press, 1993).Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Jack P. Greene, “Beyond Power: Paradigm Subversion and Reformulation and Re-creation of the Early Modern world,” in Crossing Boundaries: Comparative History of Black People in Diaspora, ed. Darlene Hine and Jacqueline McLeod (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999), p. 377.Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    Michael P. Smith, Spirit World: Photographs and Journal (Gretna, LA: Pelican, 1932), p. 31.Google Scholar

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© James A. Noel 2009

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