Bob Bennett Lecture on Western Intellectual History and Black Presence in the Bible and Discussion of “Slave Religion the Invisible Institution in the Antebellum South” (video)

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Bob Bennett presentation, continued. Discussion following Bennet's book review, new president's remarks, closing of 1980 session


Robert Bennett

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Society for the Study of Black Religion Collection

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Robert Bennett gives a presentation on Western intellectual history and the Black presence in the Bible. Bennett claims racism as a part of Western methodological study of the bible and Western intellectual history. He discusses the number of questions that can be raised from the bible. He also discusses the discoveries from his travel to the Nile and Jordan valley. Historical references to the Nile valley, and to the people and culture (Kushite, Egyptians, Ethiopians, Nubians and Hebrews) are made in relation to the African presence in the bible. At the end of the lecture Robert Bennett takes questions from the audience. Afterward is a brief critical review of the book “Slave Religion: the Invisible Institution in the Antebellum South” by an unidentified man. The book review is followed by review and questions from audience members such as James Cone.

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00:00:06 Robert Bennett talks about his amazement at the lack of understanding among Black students of how Blacks arrived at double consciousness.

00:00:53 Talks about the importance of Western intellectual history and its effect on reading scripture. Scripture as subject speaks to us but scholars are trained methodologically to look at it as object something to put under a microscope.

00:02:20 Talks about racism as an element of Western intellectual history. Calls it methodological approach. Says most of the texts that are used and most of the concepts used to look at scripture are racist.

00:02:48 Racist methodology was a response to the trauma of the Western mind to the realities of the background of scripture was centered in the African phenomenon of the Nile valley and the rediscovery of Egypt through invasions and discovery of Rosetta stone to unlock the secrets of the Nile civilizations. Trauma of intellectual origins of West being in Africa.

00:09:18 Talks about the historical considerations of the Bible and the number of questions that can be asked about the Bible from a historical point of view like where and who are the Black people in the bible and what does the bible say to Black people.

00:14:02 Talks about looking at particularly at group referred to in the bible as Ethiopians. Also talks about how Blacks in the bible are referred to by a variety of names.

00:15:35 Talks about the northern Nile valley people the Egyptians had a term for themselves and a term for those to the south of them (Nubians), and how Hebrews termed these people as Kushite and also Ham.

00:17:21 Talks about how Ham was used in the bible not only to describe people in the southern Nile valley but all people of the Nile valley. Biblical poets view Israel and Ham as the same.

00:19:21 Talks about focus of his research the 25th Nubian dynasty and how they did not disassociate themselves from the Egyptians to the North. Both had common heritage.

00:35:13 Talks about biblical history Africa, Egypt the Nile valley Sudan is a place of refuge and sanctuary. It is also a place where Israel received much of its intellectual sustenance.

00:40:10 Talks about the theological impact of the people of the Nile valley on the Hebrew people.

00:50:58 Questions from the audience.

01:23:03 Unidentified man talks about the book “Slave Religion: the Invisible Institution in the Antebellum South” and how Black religion has largely been ignored.

01:37:48 Reviews and questions.

01:49:56 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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