Standing on the Shoulders of Those Gone Before

  • Garth Kasimu Baker-Fletcher
Part of the Black Religion/Womanist Thought/Social Justice book series (BRWT)


In the African American community we celebrate the achievements of our ancestors, their legacies, and how we are connected to their work with the phrase, “We stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us.” Like a sculpture that is slowly crafted together, piece by piece, so are the achievements and legacies of our memories, our pasts, of who and what we are. Without waxing philosophical, perhaps it is something of a universal truth to say that none of us can birth an idea alone, nor nurture a school of thought without the support of many others, and so the fact that we “stand on each other’s shoulders” is a representation of the ongoing-ness of the generations. Bible Witness in Black Churches reveals that Black folks have been about the business of spinning tales, stories, and sermons that relied upon the Bible in unique ways for a long time, and that Black Church intellectuals have long and varied traditions interpreting how the Bible ought to be used.


African American Woman Black Church African American Church Biblical Text Theological Seminary 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 2.
    Cf. Randall C. Bailey “Academic Biblical Interpretation among African Americans in the United States”, in African Americans and the Bible; Sacred Texts and Social Textures edited by Vincent Wimbush (New York: Continuum, 2001), p. 696.Google Scholar
  2. 7.
    Bailey, p.708 n.12, 13 Cf. Ibid. Bailey notes that he gained this knowledge from extensive reference to the scholarly works of James B. Pritchard Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament 2nd edition (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1955)Google Scholar
  3. James Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt (New York: Russell & Russell, 1906, reissued 1962).Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    Ibid., p.697, 708 n.3. Robert Bennett, Jr., “Africa and the Biblical Period”, Harvard Theological Review 64 (1971): 501–524CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Charles B. Copher Black Biblical Studies: An Anthology of Charles B. Copher, Biblical and Theological Issues on the Black Presence in the Bible (Chicago: Black Light Fellowship, 1993)Google Scholar
  6. 10.
    Ibid., p.708 n.5 also cf. Clarice Martin “A Chamberlain’s Journey and the Challenge of Interpretation for Liberation”, Semeia 47 (1989): 105–135Google Scholar
  7. 11.
    Ibid., p.699, 709 n.20 Cf. Abraham Smith’s extensive writings, “’Do You Understand What You Are Reading?’ A Literary Cri-tical Reading of the Ethiopian (Kushite) Episode (Acts 8:26-40)”; Journal of the Interdenominational Theological Center 22 (1994): 48–70Google Scholar
  8. 14.
    Ibid., p.709 n.25 699; Brian Blount, “A Socio-Rhetorical Analysis of Simon the Cyrene”, Semeia 63 (1993): 171–198.Google Scholar
  9. Boykin Saunders, “In Search of a Face for Simon the Cyrene”, in The Recovery of Black Presence: An Interdisciplinary Exploration edited by Randall C. Bailey and Jacquelyn Grant (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1995), pp. 51–64.Google Scholar
  10. 18.
    Ibid., p.700, 709, n.27 Charles B. Copher, “Three Thousand Years of Biblical Interpretation with Reference to Black Peoples”, Journal of the Interdenominational Theological Denominational Center 13(2) (Spring 1986): 223–246Google Scholar
  11. 20.
    Ibid., p.704, 709 n. 31 Cain Hope Felder, Troubling Biblical Waters: Race, Class, and Family (Maryknoll: Orbis, 1989).Google Scholar
  12. 22.
    Ibid., p.709 n.31 Cf. Cain Hope Felder, “Race, Racism, and the Biblical Narratives”, in Stony the Road We Trod: African American Biblical Interpretation edited by Cain Hope Felder (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991), p. 128.Google Scholar
  13. 60.
    Bailey, p.703, 710 n.52.I follow Blount’s argument beyond Bailey here. Cf. Brian K. Blount Then the Whisper Tut on Tlesh: New Testament Ethics in an African American Context (Maryknoll: Orbis, 2001), p. 34.Google Scholar
  14. 63.
    Ibid., p.33, idem. Jacquelyn Grant White Women’s Christ and Black Women’s Jesus”, Teminist Christology and Womanist Response (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1989), p. 212.Google Scholar
  15. 68.
    Ibid., p.19, idem. Enrique Dussel. Thilosophy of Liberation translated by Aquilina Martinez and Christine Morkovsky (Maryknoll: Orbis, 1985), p. 193.Google Scholar
  16. 77.
    cf. Ronald C. Potter, “The New Black Evangelicals”, in Black Theology: A Documentary History, 1966–1979 (Maryknoll: Orbis, 1979), p. 307.Google Scholar
  17. 83.
    Cf. James Cone God of the Oppressed. (Maryknoll: Orbis, 1997)Google Scholar
  18. James Evans, Jr. We Have Been Believers: An African American Systematic Theology (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1992), p. 35.Google Scholar
  19. 84.
    Cf. Dwight Hopkins Down, Up, and Over: Slave Religion and Black Theology (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2000), pp. 120–121.Google Scholar
  20. 97.
    Ibid., p.46, idem. Robert Alter The Art of Biblical Narrative (New York: Basic Books, 1981), p. 12.Google Scholar
  21. 110.
    Ibid., idem. Frederick Douglass The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass revised edition 1892 (New York: Crowell-Collier, 1962), pp. 79–80.Google Scholar
  22. 112.
    Cf. Dwight Hopkins Introducing Black Theology of Liberation (Maryknoll: Orbis, 1999), p. 42.Google Scholar
  23. 116.
    Ibid., idem. James W.C. Pennington’s “The Fugitive Blacksmith; or Events in the History of James W. C. Pennington, Pastor of a Presbyterian Church, New York, Formerly a Slave in the State of Maryland, United States”, in William Katz ed., Five Slave Narratives (New York: Arno Press, 1968), pp. 82Google Scholar
  24. 121.
    Cf. J. Deotis Roberts Liberation and Reconciliation: A Black Theology revised edition (Maryknoll: Orbis, 1994), pp. 37–40.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Garth Kasimu Baker-Fletcher 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Garth Kasimu Baker-Fletcher

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations