Rediscovering Sabbath: Hebrew Social Thought And Its Contribution To Black Theology's Vision For America
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Black Theology has made extensive use of the Exodus narrative for making its theological and ethical claims. It has served to demonstrate God's concerns for liberation both within history and eschatologically. However, the Sabbath and Jubilee laws of the Hebrew Scriptures have been underutilized as sources of social ethical critique. Sabbath and Jubilee together were a unique way of life and an implicit social ethical system established by Israel in response to their slavery and oppression in Egypt. It is Sabbath and Jubilee that reveal Israel's response to God's liberative act, and demonstrates the way in which they understand what a liberated society should look like. Any attempt to utilize the Exodus narrative as a means of doing theology is incomplete without a correlative examination of the Israelite response to that redemptive saga.
The purpose of this dissertation is to determine the ways in which the ethical vision conveyed by the theological and ethical principles that underlie Sabbath and Jubilee can become an interlocutor for Black theology, providing both criticism and support for its ethical vision for America. In order to do so, the dissertation first demonstrates the influence of Exodus within early African American religion and Black Theology. It then examines the hermeneutical framework in which the Exodus is understood. After exploring the theological and ethical principles that underlie the Sabbath and Jubilee, including their canonical connection to the Exodus, the dissertation demonstrates the ways in which a black hermeneutical reading of Sabbath and Jubilee might prove meaningful for Black Theology.