Noah's Curse

Noah's Curse : The Biblical Justification of American Slavery

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"A servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren." So reads Noah's curse on his son Ham, and all his descendants, in Genesis 9:25. Over centuries of interpretation, Ham came to be identified as the ancestor of black Africans, and Noah's curse to be seen as biblical justification for American slavery and segregation. Examining the history of the American interpretation of Noah's curse, this book begins with an overview of the prior history of the reception of this scripture and then turns to the distinctive and creative ways in which the curse was appropriated by American pro-slavery and pro-segregation interpreters.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 336 pages
  • 154.9 x 231.1 x 22.9mm | 453.6g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195313070
  • 9780195313079
  • 1,259,862

Review quote

Haynes's study provides a thorough and rich sense of the interpretive history of the scriptural story * Christian Century * Noah's Curse must be recognized as the most innovative and enlightening study of the Biblical defense of American slavery ever published. The dubious legend of Noah, as Stephen R. Haynes points out, is still with us, along with the Confederate symbols flying over public places and fundamentalists denouncing racial mixing. The Southern mind, he brilliantly explains, has woven the conventions of honor, the burdens of shame, the practice of race
subordination, and the concept of divine grace into a single cultural fabric. In the field of religious and sectional history, this work will take an honored place next to the studies of Eugene Genovese and Donald Mathews. No one interested in American religious history can ignore this intellectually powerful
study. * Bertram Wyatt-Brown, University of Florida; Author of Southern Honor and The Shaping of Southern Culture * The ancient rabbis suggested that every biblical text has seventy legitimate meanings (and no doubt an infinite number of illegitimate ones). Stephen Haynes has produced an amazing history of interpretation of the Ham and Nimrod narratives. It becomes clear through his careful research that such texts are supple and vulnerable to misguided theological passion. This book lets us reflect on old mistakes and, by inference, invites us to reflect on our own availability
for parallel misreadings. Noah's Curse is an exercise in historical disclosure not to be missed by those who care about the crisis of reading in the church and in a Bible-rooted culture. * Walter Brueggemann, Professor of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary; Author of Spirituality of the Psalms * [Haynes] has written a careful and important book that deserves wide study. * Theological Studies * Well-researched, interdisciplinary, and strongly moral Historians of American religion, race relations, or slavery, as well as theologians interested in the interplay between the Bible, culture, and social problems, will find this book as excellent resource. * The Journal of Religion * Moving deftly between general and particular issues, Stephen R. Haynes' incisive study of the use of the Bible to support slavery offers readers a rich store of insights concerning both biblical interpretation and the role of honor and order in the Southern ethos. Clearly written and copiously nothed Noah's Curse is of interest to scholars both in American history and religious studies. Pastors and educated nonspecialists will also find the book
accessible. * History: Reviews of New Books *
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About Stephen R. Haynes

Stephen R. Haynes holds the A.B. Curry Chair of Religious Studies at Rhodes College, where he has taught since 1989. His publications include Reluctant Witnesses: Jews and the Christian Imagination (1995) and, as co-editor, To Each its Own Meaning: An Introduction to Biblical Criticisms and Their Application (1993)
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Rating details

24 ratings
3.45 out of 5 stars
5 12% (3)
4 42% (10)
3 29% (7)
2 12% (3)
1 4% (1)
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