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The Ethiopian Prophecy in Black American Letters$
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Roy Kay

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780813037325

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813037325.001.0001

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Missionary Emigrationism: Psalm 68:31 and Uplifting the Ethiopians in Africa

Missionary Emigrationism: Psalm 68:31 and Uplifting the Ethiopians in Africa

(p.82) 4 Missionary Emigrationism: Psalm 68:31 and Uplifting the Ethiopians in Africa
The Ethiopian Prophecy in Black American Letters

Roy Kay

University Press of Florida

This chapter maps the figural readings of Psalm 68:31 that inform narratives of missionary emigrationism, racial fraternity, and Afro-Asiatic mythologies. Starting with Wheatley's letter to Rev. Hopkins, Psalm 68:31 is read as a divine obligation to bring Christianity and civilization to Africa. According to this reading, Africans need regeneration because they live in spiritual darkness and cultural barbarity. The agents of this regeneration are not Africans but black American Christians. Some black exegetes also advocate the emigration of free Negroes to Africa. Both articulations of missionary emigrationism are grounded in the modern idea of race. By the second half of the nineteenth century, Delany and Crummell have fully developed missionary and African regeneration plans as well as racial mythologies. Two black exegetes who oppose the notion that Africa's salvation needs to come from America are Steward and Handy. These hermeneuts read Psalm 68:31 as a prophecy that Africa would Christianize and liberate itself.

Keywords:   Afro-Asiatic myth, Crummell, Delany, Handy, missionary emigration, Psalm 68:31, regeneration, Steward, Wheatley

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