The Bible in the Black Religious Experience by Boykin Sanders (video)

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Boykin Sanders, The Bible and Black Experience: Who Needs the Bible?/Response by Thomas Hoyt and Virgil Cruz

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Society for the Study of Black Religion Collection

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Boykin Sanders gives lecture presentation on the bible in the Black religious experience. He discusses the problem of relating the past to the present and how biblical disciplines responded through the science of historical critical method. He also raises questions about the historical critical method based on its scientific assumptions. Boykin Sanders relates the Black religious experience with the Bible by focusing on the weak and suffering relationship with the transcendent. He uses James Cone’s Black liberation theology, African and African American folklores and the biblical Jesus to illuminate his point. In response to the lecture Thomas Hoyt and Virgil Cruz are critical of Sanders claims about the historical critical method.

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00:00:06 Unidentified man welcomes audience and introduces Boykin Sanders.

00:02:27 Talks about the problematic as a matter of perspective. The view of the fossilized and mummified past and the question of its relation to the present.

00:02:47 Talks about biblical disciplines response to the problematic being the science of historical critical methodology.

00:03:18 Talks about the emergence of hermeneutical tools such as text, literary source, redaction, and source criticism as modes of prying into world of past and how these tools used to understand biblical world was a conceptual pre-understanding regarding science. An absolute objectivity on the part of the interpreter.

00:07:18 Talks about how historical critical method is being questioned on the basis of its assumption. As a science it presupposes objective analysis.

00:09:29 Raises the question of ontological existence for both the text and its interpreter. Talks about the question of the bible as it relates to the African American experience are one in part that relates to dialogue. The Bible and or experience as a primary datum in located a possible center for cultural religious phenomena of African American history.

00:10:28 Talks about historical and revelation disclosures in the movement of people and culture from one setting to another usually evidenced for intermingling of past and present realities.

00:10:44 Talks about how he attempts to offer a perspective regarding the shift in conjunction with the bible and experience both being phenomena of the new cultural setting .The Bible is a part of the culture and the experience of Black people. How does one account for the “fusion” of the Bible and the experience of Black people as phenomena.

00:14:58 Talks about how James Cone alludes to the element of transcendent in religious language and how Black people appropriated the Bible in a way that met their historical needs. The theme that stood out among all other themes in Bible was liberation. This was because of social condition of the slave. Liberation is a transcendent concept.

00:16:28 Talks about how liberation is a transcendent theme and how it finds concrete expression in Jesus the liberator. For Cone the Bible serves as a repository for the liberating idea and amelioration and diffusion of the slave’s predicament. Says it was scripture that enabled slaves to find a view of God that differed radically from the slave master.

00:28:07 Talks about Nigerian story elephant and hippopotamus, and African American story Bear Fox.

00:37:54 Talks about weakness in bearing excessive disorder pain and suffering becomes earthly receptor into which the transcendent other or God reveals itself and assists the weak to survive the disarranged order of the strong.

00:47:06 Talks about what made Jesus attractive and not the bible for Africans in America was his status as an weak and outsider among the strong. How the transcendent assisted his parents with a plan of escape through visions and dreams.

00:53:13 Talks about the usage of the bible by outsiders and sufferers of excessive disorder.

00:57:05 Boykin Sanders ends his lecture presentation.

00:57:14 Thomas Hoyt states Boykin Sanders criticism of the historical critical method is not fair.

00:58:56 Virgil Cruz talks about the contribution of Boykin Sanders paper and criticizes Boykins claim about the origins of the historical critical method.

01:03:36 Video ends.


The Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library acknowledges the generous support of the National Endowment for Humanities - Humanities Collections and Reference Resources Implementation Project Grant in supporting the processing and digitization of a number of its major archival collections as part of the project: Spreading the Word: Expanding Access to African American Religious Archival Collections at the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library.


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