Exodus and Liberation: Deliverance Politics from John Calvin to Martin Luther King Jr.

Hardcover | December 12, 2013

byJohn Coffey

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The history of deliverance politics in Anglo-American history contains remarkable moments of achievement, but this is not a story of triumphal progress. Exodus was hotly contested, used by the powerful as well as the weak, and mobilized to support a host of rival causes. By writing themselvesinto the Protestant history of liberty, African Americans undercut complacent narratives of progress, injecting a powerful sense of unease into the tradition. The argument over who owns the biblical narrative has continued into the twenty-first century. If Barack Obama saw himself as an inheritor ofExodus politics, so too did George W. Bush. Many Christians - and many non-Christians too - remain understandably suspicious of those who read Israel's history as political paradigm, especially when it underpins religious nationalism. This story is riddled with moral ironies. The Books of Moses could be used to justify anti-black racism andthe dispossession of Native peoples as well as freedom from slavery. In the name of liberation, Protestants have justified war, revolt, and imperialism. High-minded missions have often had dismal consequences.In excavating the history of deliverance politics, Coffey relies on sources buried in many generic strata. As a study of political rhetoric, the core materials are sermons and speeches, the published versions of oral performances. Deliverance discourse found its way into almost every kind of genre,just as it left its mark on virtually every kind of Hebrew literature. It is present in an array of literary texts, including pamphlets, treatises, biblical commentaries, letters, memoirs, newspapers, periodicals, constitutional documents, and even children's literature. Most strikingly, the gospelof liberation was depicted in visual sources, such as paintings, illustrated Bibles, official seals, commemorative coins and medals, mastheads and banners. Finally, deliverance politics proved easy to sing. Its strains are heard in Puritan psalms, Evangelical hymns, African-American spirituals andthe Freedom Songs of the Civil Rights Movement. These sources form a documentary record, testifying to the powerful political appeal of the Exodus, the Jubilee and the biblical language of liberty.

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The history of deliverance politics in Anglo-American history contains remarkable moments of achievement, but this is not a story of triumphal progress. Exodus was hotly contested, used by the powerful as well as the weak, and mobilized to support a host of rival causes. By writing themselvesinto the Protestant history of liberty, Afri...

John Coffey is Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Leicester

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:304 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:December 12, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199334226

ISBN - 13:9780199334223

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction: "Biblical Traditions that Call for Liberation"Part I: Reformations, Revolutions, and Political Slavery1. "The Only Parallel": The Puritan Revolution as England's Exodus2. "God's Favourite People": The Revolutions of 1688 and 1776Part II: Abolitionists, African Americans, and Racial Slavery3. "Pretended Votaries of Freedom": The Rise of Protestant Antislavery to 18074. "Yours for the Jubilee": The Abolitionists' Scriptural Imagination, 1808-18655. "When Israel was in Egyptland": Black Exodus Politics, 1808-1865Part III: Exodus after Slavery6. "I Have Seen the Promised Land": The Persistence of Deliverance Politics, 1865-2008Conclusion: Sacred Texts, Godly Readers, and Historical ChangeNotesBibliographyIndex