Chosen People: The Rise of American Black Israelite Religions by Jacob S. DormanChosen People: The Rise of American Black Israelite Religions by Jacob S. Dorman

Chosen People: The Rise of American Black Israelite Religions

byJacob S. Dorman

Paperback | March 15, 2016

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Named Outstanding Academic Title by CHOICEWinnter of the Wesley-Logan Prize of the American Historical AssociationWinner of the Byron Caldwell Smith Book Prize Winner of the 2014 Albert J. Raboteau Book Prize for the Best Book in Africana ReligionsJacob S. Dorman offers new insights into the rise of Black Israelite religions in America, faiths ranging from Judaism to Islam to Rastafarianism all of which believe that the ancient Hebrew Israelites were Black and that contemporary African Americans are their descendants. Dorman traces theinfluence of Israelite practices and philosophies in the Holiness Christianity movement of the 1890s and the emergence of the Pentecostal movement in 1906. An examination of Black interactions with white Jews under slavery shows that the original impetus for Christian Israelite movements was not adesire to practice Judaism but rather a studied attempt to recreate the early Christian church, following the strictures of the Hebrew Scriptures.A second wave of Black Israelite synagogues arose during the Great Migration of African Americans and West Indians to cities in the North. One of the most fascinating of the Black Israelite pioneers was Arnold Josiah Ford, a Barbadian musician who moved to Harlem, joined Marcus Garvey's BlackNationalist movement, started his own synagogue, and led African Americans to resettle in Ethiopia in 1930. The effort failed, but the Black Israelite theology had captured the imagination of settlers who returned to Jamaica and transmitted it to Leonard Howell, one of the founders of Rastafarianismand himself a member of Harlem's religious subculture. After Ford's resettlement effort, the Black Israelite movement was carried forward in the U.S. by several Harlem rabbis, including Wentworth Arthur Matthew, another West Indian, who creatively combined elements of Judaism, Pentecostalism,Freemasonry, the British Anglo-Israelite movement, Afro-Caribbean faiths, and occult kabbalah. Drawing on interviews, newspapers, and a wealth of hitherto untapped archival sources, Dorman provides a vivid portrait of Black Israelites, showing them to be a transnational movement that fought racism and its erasure of people of color from European-derived religions. Chosen People argues for anew way of understanding cultural formation, not in terms of genealogical metaphors of "survivals," or syncretism, but rather as a "polycultural" cutting and pasting from a transnational array of ideas, books, rituals, and social networks.
Jacob S. Dorman is an assistant professor in the Department of History and Department of American Studies at the University of Kansas.
Title:Chosen People: The Rise of American Black Israelite ReligionsFormat:PaperbackDimensions:322 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.68 inPublished:March 15, 2016Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190490098

ISBN - 13:9780190490096

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgementsIntroduction1. ''This Is Our Red Sea:'' Exodusters, Prophet William Saunders Crowdy, and the Beginnings of Black Israelism2. ''Equivalent to Israelism'': Inheritance, Freemasonry, and the Ancient Israelites3. ''We Are Israelites but Not Jews:'' Orientalism and Israelism in the Holiness-Pentecostal Movement4. ''Our Only Hope, Our Only Salvation as a Race'' Rabbi Arnold Josiah Ford, Ethiopianism, and African American Settlers in Ethiopia5. ''I Saw You Disappear with My Own Eyes'': Hidden Transcripts of Rabbi Wentworth A. Matthew's Black Israelite BricolageConclusionAppendix: ''Short History of The Congregation Beth B'nai Abraham, New York, N.Y.''BibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

"Chosen People: The Rise of the American Black Israelite Religions is a refreshing shift in studies on the early formations of Black religious life in the United States... By situating his study in the thickness of American inequality and black peoples' of faith search for meaning, Dormanoffers readers a viewpoint of the complex richness of Black religious experience and group formation in the U.S. ... For that and many other reasons, Dorman's work is a must-read." --Pneuma