Black History Month: Anthony B. Bradley on Cultural Hermeneutics

24734The context of the following quote from black scholar Anthony B. Bradley is against the backdrop of the misuse of Scripture by Anglo Christians to enslave blacks on the one hand and many of the objections by the black academy, which includes black liberation theologians, on the other:

A culturally applied hermeneutic provides a powerful complement to the study of interpretation.  It allows Scripture to serve as the ultimate ground for truth while recognizing the relevance of cultures in understanding and applying that truth.  While the African-American academy has legitimate objections against the historical use of Scripture, those objections cannot become the basis for an African-American cultural hermeneutic.  We must move beyond the objections in an effort to help God’s people become a mature church.  Cultural relevancy remains subordinate to exegesis.  The work of the kingdom of God requires that multiple cultures submit themselves to divine revelation.  Cultural hermeneutics is meant to serve as a tool to understand God’s calling upon the lives of his people in every community and culture.”  (Liberating Black Theology: The Bible and the Black Experience in America, p. 159, emphasis added)

Let’s interact with this quote from professor Bradley briefly.  First, in an effort to move beyond the objections of black liberation theologians against a dominant Anglo interpretation of Scripture, I hear prof Bradley saying that we need to step back and listen to one another.  Second, I hear prof Bradley saying that proper exegesis of Scripture is paramount, not one particular cultural reading of the text of Scripture.  Third, I hear prof Bradley saying that while our cultural experiences are legitimate, the work of kingdom of God is infinitely more important, since it requires and demands that all peoples and cultures sit at the table of brotherhood and “submit themselves to divine revelation.”

This entry was posted in Black History Month, Black Theology, Interpreting Scripture, Kingdom of God and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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