The Black Jews of Africa

The Black Jews of Africa : History, Religion, Identity

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Over the last several decades, an astonishing phenomenon has developed: a Jewish rebirth of sorts occurring throughout Africa. Different ethnic groups proclaim that they are returning to long forgotten Jewish roots and African clans trace their lineage to the Lost Tribes of Israel. The Black Jews of Africa addresses the elaboration and the development of Jewish identities by Africans. Africans have encountered Jewish myths and traditions in multiple forms and under a number of situations. The context and circumstances of these encounters produced a series of influences that gradually led, within some African societies, to the elaboration of a new Jewish identity connected with that of the Diaspora. The book presents one by one the different groups of Black Jews from western central, eastern and southern Africa and the ways in which they have used and imagined their oral history and traditional customs to construct a distinct Jewish identity. The purpose of the book is to review the processes and immensely complex interactions which shaped these new religious identities.
It explores the way in which Africans have interacted with the ancient mythological sub-strata of both western and Africans idea of Jews in order to create a distinct Jewish identity. It particularly seeks to identify and to assess colonial influences and their internalization by African societies in the shaping of new African religious identities. Along with these notions the book examines how, in the absence of recorded African history, the eminently malleable accounts of Jewish lineage developed by African groups inspired by Judaism co-exist with the possible historical traces of a Jewish presence in Africa.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 304 pages
  • 162.56 x 233.68 x 27.94mm | 476.27g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New
  • 2 line illustrations
  • 019533356X
  • 9780195333565
  • 2,113,249

Review quote

impeccably researched ... Poised to become the definitive text on African Jews, this book does scholarly heavy lifting to break new ground that will provide a foundation for what promises to become a rich field of study all its own. * Janice W. Fernheimer, AJS Review * excellent introduction to the complex and controversial subject of African Jews and the Ten Lost Tribes...I recommend it highly to those interested in understanding modern Jewish history and society worldwide. * Ephraim Isaac, Director of the Institute of Semitic Studies, Princetown * ...makes a real contribution to understanding the nature of African Judaism [and]...presents a major case study in the social contruction of religious identities. * Philip Jenkins, author of God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis * This ambitious and passionate work [is] a welcome and challenging addition to the discourse on the lost tribes of Israel [and]...should be read by anyone interested in Jewish history, African history, and the sociology of religion. * Emanuela Trevisan Semi, Associate Professor, Ca' Foscari University, Italy, and author of Jacques Faitlovitch and the Jews of Ethiopia *
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About Edith Bruder

Dr Edith Bruder is a Research Associate in School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and in French National Centre for Scientific Research.
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Table of contents

Part One, Pre-History ; Chapter 1. The Lost Tribes of Israel ; Chapter 2. Jewish Accounts and Christian Traditions ; Chapter 3. The Mythography of Africa ; Chapter 4. The legend of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba ; Part Two, Black Judaism: Genesis ; Chapter 5. Blacks and Jews the Archetypal Others ; Chapter 6. Encountering and Reinventing the Africans and the Jews in the Colonial Era 15th to 19th century ; Chapter 7. Appropriating Jewish History by the African Diaspora 19th to 20th century ; Part Three, Africa, Judaism and African Jews ; Chapter 8. Historical Narratives of a Jewish Presence in sub-Saharan Africa ; Chapter 9. African Jews in Western and Central Africa ; Chapter 10. African Jews in Eastern and Southern Africa ; Epilogue: Ancient Myths and Modern Phenomena ; Bibliography ; Index
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Rating details

7 ratings
4.28 out of 5 stars
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3 14% (1)
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