From Slave to Savior: An Epistemological Paradigm of Black Preaching

“The Black Preacher is the key to homiletical liberation in the North American Church ”

Team Members/Contributors

Kevin O. Vandiver Princeton Theological Seminary Contact Me

About this dissertation fellowship

Genesis chronicles the story of Joseph, who, though sold by his brothers into a distant and foreign land, becomes the figure responsible for the preservation of the whole nation of Egypt and beyond. Ironically, Joseph had positional and personal power to distribute or withhold the bread of life necessary to save his starving captors. Joseph interprets the experience of his captors, revealing the hidden intent of God who destined for good what those who sold had intended for evil.

Joseph embodies the reality of the American Black Preacher, who, though framed and misused historically during slavery and regimes of subsequent injustice, ultimately rises up in a foreign country and holds the keys to liberating ecclesial settings from their white-dominant and “white blind” hegemony. Joseph’s story becomes a framework for Black Preaching Praxis’ coming to the fore as a means of moving a divided Christian nation forward in the midst of racial calamity.

There has been focus on the work of specific black preachers who have had "boundary-crossing" ministries. While they did lift up specific homiletical features of the opus of said preachers, I seek to describe and constructively theorize the constraints and opportunities of the black preacher, more generally, who is proclaiming in "alien" territory.

I will use a canonical lens appropriating the story cycle of Joseph, a (formerly) enslaved and incarcerated outsider to the dominant group (yet, notably, a diviner of ultimate truth even in his formerly enslaved/incarcerated state), and the lenses provided by postcolonial theory and critical race theory to accomplish this descriptive, theological, and theoretically-informed constructive task.