The Talking Book - Callahan, Allen Dwight - Yale University Press
Literary Studies
Performing Arts

The Talking Book

African Americans and the Bible

  • Allen Dwight Callahan
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Out of Print.

Selected as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2007 by Choice Magazine

Click here to listen to an interview with the author on the Yale Press Podcast.

The Talking Book casts the Bible as the central character in a vivid portrait of black America, tracing the origins of African-American culture from slavery’s secluded forest prayer meetings to the bright lights and bold style of today’s hip-hop artists.

The Bible has profoundly influenced African Americans throughout history. From a variety of perspectives this wide-ranging book is the first to explore the Bible’s role in the triumph of the black experience. Using the Bible as a foundation, African Americans shared religious beliefs, created their own music, and shaped the ultimate key to their freedom—literacy. Allen Callahan highlights the intersection of biblical images with African-American music, politics, religion, art, and literature.

The author tells a moving story of a biblically informed African-American culture, identifying four major biblical images—Exile, Exodus, Ethiopia, and Emmanuel. He brings these themes to life in a unique African-American history that grows from the harsh experience of slavery into a rich culture that endures as one of the most important forces of twenty-first-century America.

Allen Dwight Callahan is director of the Instituto Martin Luther King, Jr. in Salvador, Brazil.