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Nathaniel Turner 

Christian Martyrdom in Southampton

A Theology of Black Liberation

By Rudolph Lewis



Sources Consulted


Achtemeier, Paul J. and et al, eds. Harper’s Bible Dictionary. New York: Harper and Row, 1985. 

Aichele, George. "Jesus’ Violence." In Tina Pippin and George Aichele. Violence, Utopia, and the Kingdom of God. New York: Rutledge, 1998.

Andrews, William L. ed. Sisters of the Spirit: Three Black Women’s Autobiographies of the Nineteenth Century. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986.

Aptheker, Herbert. Nat Turner’s Slave Rebellion. New York: Grove Press, 1966.

Bennett, Jr., Lerone. Before the Mayflower: A History of the Negro in America, 1619-1964. New York: Pelican, 1968.

Boenig, Robert, translator. Anglo-Saxon Spiritually: Selected Writings. New York: Paulist Press, 2000.

Bowden, Henry Warner. Dictionary of American Religious Biography. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1977.

Boyarin, Daniel. Dying for God: Martyrdom and the Making of Christianity and Judaism. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1999.

Brawley, Benjamin. A Social History of the American Negro. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1921.

Brown, Theresa Fry. "Prophets! How Far Are You Willing to Run ?" The African American Pulpit, Winter 1997-98, pp. 46-53.

Budge, E.A. Wallis. The Book of the Mysteries of the Heavens and the Earth. London: Oxford University Press, 1935).

Campbell, James T. Songs of Zion: The African Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States and South Africa. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1998.

Campbell, Ted A. Methodist Doctrine: The Essentials. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1999.

Catholic Association of America. The Holy Bible. Paterson New Jersey: St. Anthony Guild Press, 1961.

Clark, Elmer T., J. Manning Potts, and Jacob S. Payton. The Journal and Letters of Francis Asbury, Volume II. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1958.

Clarke, John Henrik, ed. William Styron’s Nat Turner: Ten Black Writers Respond. Boston: Beacon Press, 1968.

Cleage, Jr., Albert B. Black Christian Nationalism. New York: William Morrow & Company, Inc., 1972.

Cohn, Walter E. Conscience: Development and Self-Transcendence. Birmingham, Alabama: Religious Education Press, 1981.

Coleman, Robert E. Written in Blood: A Devotional Bible Study of the Blood of Christ. Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1972.

Colleen McDonnell and Bernhard Lang. Heaven: A History. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988.

Coste, Rene. "A Critical Analysis of the Notion of a Just War." World Justice, Vol. IX, No. 3 (March 1968), pp. 291-308.

Crites, Stephen. "Master of Irony Demystified," Rev. of Josiah Thompson, Kierkegaard (Alfred A. Knopf), The Journal of Religion, 55 (April 1975), pp. 235-246.

Cromwell, John. "The Aftermath of Nat Turner’s Insurrection." The Journal of Negro History 5, No. 2 (1920), pp. 208-234.

Daniel, W. Harrison. "Virginia." In Samuel S. Hill, ed. Religion in the Southern States: A Historical Study. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1983.

Davies, Alan. "On Religious Myths and Their Secular Translation: Some Historical Reflections." In Alan T. Davies, ed. Antisemitism and the Foundations of Christianity. New York: Paulist Press, 1979.

DeMars, Richard E. "Element, Elemental Spirit." In David Noel Freedman, ed. The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol. 2. New York: Doubleday, 1992, pp. 444-445.

Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave, Written by Himself. New York:Bedford/St. Martin's Press, 2002.

Du Bois, W. E. B. The Suppression of the African Slave Trade to the United States of America, 1638-1870. New York: Schocken Books, 1969.

Du Bois, W. E. B. “Toussaint L'Ouverture, Gabriel Prosser, Denmark Vesey & Nat Turner.” In Chapter 9 W. E. B. Du Bois. The Negro Church; Report of a Social Study Made Under the Direction of Atlanta University; Together With the Proceedings of the Eighth Conference for the Study of Negro Problems, Held at Atlanta University, May 26th, 1903. Atlanta, GA.: The Atlanta University Press, 1903.

Egerton, Douglas R. Gabriel’s Rebellion: The Virginia Slave Conspiracies of 1800 & 1892. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1993.

Eliade, Mircea. Images and Symbols: Studies in Religious Symbolism. London: Harvil Press, 1961.

Fichtner, Joseph. Forerunners of Christ: Studies of Old Testament Characters. Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing Co., 1965.

Finley, Moses I. Ancient Slavery and Modern Ideology.  London: Chatto & Windus, 1980.

Fitzmeyer, Joseph. The Gospel According to Luke. Garden City, New York: Double Day & Company, Inc., 1983.

Foner, Eric, ed. Nat Turner: Great Lives Observed. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall,1971.

Francis, Gilbert, and Katherine Futrell. Nat Turner Insurrection—1831. Southampton County Historical Society Living Library, 4 tapes.

Freemen, Curtis, et al. Baptist Roots: A Reader in the Theology of a Christian People. Valley Forge: Judson, Press, 1999.

Gates, Henry Louis and Kwame Anthony Appiah, eds. Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience. Pennsylvania: Running Press, 2003.

Gaustad, Edwin Scott, ed. Religious Issues in American History. New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1968.

Glaude, Jr., Eddie S. Exodus: Religion, Race, and Nation in Early Nineteenth-Century Black America. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Gowan, Donald E. Theology of the Prophetic Books: The Death and Resurrection of Israel. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knob Press, 1998.

Grant, Frederick C. The Gospels: Their Origins and their Growth. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1957.

Gray, Louis Herbert. The Mythology of All Races. Volume VI. Boston: Marshall Jones Company, 1927.

Greenberg, Gershon. The Holy Land in American Religious Thought, 1620-1948. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1993.

Gross, Seymour and Eileen Bender. "History, Politics, and Literature: The Myth of Nat Turner." American Quarterly, Vol. 23 (October 1971), pp. 487-518.

Grossouw, W.K. Spirituality of the New Testament. London: B. Herder Book Company, 1961. 

Hall, Thomas Cunning. The Religious Background of American Culture. Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1930.

Hamilton, Jr., James. Negro Plot: An Account of the late Intended Insurrection Among a Portion of the Blacks of the City of Charleston, South Carolina (Boston 1822). Excerpted in Patricia W. Romero. I Too Am America: Documents from 1619 to the Present. New York: The Association for the Study of Negro Life and Culture, 1969, pp. 53-58.

Harding, Vincent. There Is a River: The Black Struggle for Freedom in America. New York: Vintage Books, 1983.

Harding, Vincent. "Religion and Resistance Among Antebellum Slaves, 1800-1860." In Timothy E. Fulop and Albert J. Raboteau. African-American Religions: Interpretive Essays in History and Culture. New York: Routledge, 1997.

Hopkins, Dwight. Down, Up, and Over: Slave Religion and Black Theology. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2000.

Jefferson, Thomas. "Administration of Justice." In Notes on the State of Virginia. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1964.

Johnson, F. Roy. The Nat Turner Slave Insurrection. Murfreesboro, N.C.: Johnson Publishing Company, 1966.

Johnson, James Weldon. The Book of American Negro Poetry. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1969.

Juster, Susan. "Demagogues or Mystagogues? Gender and the Language of Prophecy in the Age of Democratic Revolutions." American Historical Forum 105.1 (1999): 44 pars.7 Feb. 2001.

Lefebure, Leo D. Revelation, the Religions, and Violence. New York: Orbis Books, 2000.

King James Version. The Holy Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishers, 1962.

Kristeller, Paul Oskar. Renaissance Thought: The Classic, Scholastic, and Humanistic Studies. New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1961.

Lampe, G. W. H., and K. J. Woollcombe. “The Reasonableness of Typology.” In Essays on Typology, Studies in Biblical Theology, no. 22. Napierville, Ill: A.R. Allenson, 1957, pp. 9-38

Lee, Stephen M. Lee. "African American Spirituals: A Synoptic Analysis of Seventy Hymnal Inscriptions in Six Protestant Hymnals." The Journal of Interdenominational Theological Center. Vol. XXVII, Numbers 1 and 2, Fall 1999/Spring 2000, pp. 137-178.

Lings, Martin. Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources. Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions, Ltd., 1983.

Lovejoy, Paul E. "The African Diaspora: Revisionist Interpretations of Ethnicity, Culture and Religion under Slavery." Studies in the World History of Slavery, Abolition and Emancipation, II, 1 (1997).

Maddox, Randy L. "Be Ye Perfect?: The Evolution of John Wesley’s Most Contentious Doctrine." Christian History XX, (issue 69), pp. 32-35.

McCabe, J. "Slavery." In Rationalists Encyclopedia. Posted @

Mathews, Donald G. Slavery and Methodism: A Chapter in American Morality, 1780-1845. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1978.

Maxwell, John Francis. "The Development of Catholic Doctrine Concerning Slavery (Part I)." World Justice, XI (December 1969), pp. 147-192.

Maxwell, John Francis. "The Development of Catholic Doctrine Concerning Slavery (Part II)." World Justice, XI (March 1970), pp. 291-324.

Maxwell, John Francis. Slavery and the Catholic Church: The History of Catholic Teaching Concerning the Moral Legitimacy of the Institution of Slavery. London: Barry Rose Publishers, 1975.

McKenzie, John L. Dictionary of the Bible. Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Company, 1965.

Meeks, M. Douglass. "Trinity, Community, and Power." In M. Douglas Meeks, ed. Trinity, Community, and Power: Mapping Trajectories in Wesleyan Theology. Nashville, Tennessee: Kingswood Books, 2000.

Moses, Wilson Jeremiah. Black Messiahs and Uncle Toms: Social and Literary Manipulations of a Religious Myth. University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1982.

Noll, Mark A. "The Image of the United States as a Biblical Nation, 1776-1865. In Nathan O. Hatch and Mark A. Noll, eds. The Bible in America: Essays in Cultural History. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982, pp. 39-58.

Ogbonna, Jeffrey and Green Ogbar. "Prophet Nat and God’s Children of Darkness: Black Religious Nationalism." Journal of Religious Thought, 53/54 (1997), pp. 51-72.

O’Leary, Stephen D. Arguing the Apocalypse: A Theory of Millennial Rhetoric. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.

Pailin, David A. "Abraham and Isaac: A Hermeneutical Problem Before Kierkegaard." In Robert L. Perkins. Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling: Critical Appraisals. University, Alabama: The University of Alabama Press, 1987, pp. 10-42.

Overholt, Thomas W. Channels of Prophecy: The Social Dynamics of Prophetic Activity. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1989.

Peterson, Thomas Vergil. Ham and Japheth: The Mythic World of Whites in the Antebellum South. Metuchen, N.J.: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., p. 1978.

Phillips, U.B. American Negro Slavery. New York D. Appleton and Co., 1918.

Quarles, Benjamin. The Negro in the Making of America. New York: Collier Books, 1969.

Reuther, Rosemary. The Radical Kingdom: The Western Experience of Messianic Hope. New York: Paulist Press, 1970.

Rosenthal, Peggy. The Poet’s Jesus: Representation at the End of a Millennium. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Rowan, Stephen C. "Words from the Cross." Spiritual Life, 33, No 1 (Spring 1987), pp. 3-11. 

Runes, Dagobert D., ed. Dictionary of Philosophy. Totowa, New Jersey: Littlefield, Adams & Co., 1974.

Russell, Jeffrey Burton. The Devil: Perceptions of Evil from Antiquity to Primitive Christianity. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977, 212-213).

Skinner, Andrew C. "The Influence of the Hebrew Bible on the Founders of the American Republic." In Leonard Jay Greenspoon and Bryan F. LeBeau, eds. Sacred Text, Secular Times: The Hebrew Bible in the Modern World. Omaha, Nebraska: Creighton University Press, 2000.

Smith, Lacey Baldwin. Fools, Martyrs, Traitors: The Story of Martyrdom in the Western World. Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1999.

Smith, Morton. Jesus the Magician. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1978.

Smith, Warren Thomas. John Wesley & Slavery. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1986.

Schneiders, Sandra M. The Revelatory Text: Interpreting the New Testament as Sacred Scripture.  San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1991.

Sobel, Mechal. Trabelin’ On: The Slave Journey to an Afro-Baptist Faith. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1988.

Stamp, Kenneth M. The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Antebellum South. New York: Vintage Books, 1956.

Stendahl, Krister. Paul Among Jews and Gentiles. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1976.

Stewart, James Brewer. "Abolitionists, the Bible, and the Challenge of Slavery." In Ernest R. Sandeen. The Bible and Social Reform. Philadelphia: Scholars Press, 1982, pp. 31-57.

Stroh, Guy W. American Ethical Thought. Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1979.

Teubal, Savina J. Hagar the Egyptian: The Lost Tradition of the Matriarchs. San Francisco; HarperCollins Publishers, 1990.

Tillich, Paul. Perspectives in 19th and 20th Century Theology. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1967.

Tragle, Henry Irving. The Southampton Slave Revolt of 1831: A Compilation of Source Material. Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1971.

Tucker, Gene M. "The Role of the Prophets and the Role of the Church." In David L. Petersen, ed. Prophecy in Israel: Search for an Identity (Issues in Religion and Theology 10). Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1987, pp. 159-174.

Watley, William D. and Raquel Annette St. Clair. The African Presence in the Bible: Gospel Sermons Rooted in History. Valley Forge: Judson Press, 2000.

Weatherford, W.D. American Churches and the Negro: An Historical Study from Early Slave Days to the Present. Boston: The Christopher Publishing House, 1957.

Wenham, John W. Christ and the Bible. London. Tyndale Press, 1972.

Williams, William Henry. The Garden of American Methodism: The Delmarva Peninsula, 1769-1820. Wilmington, Delaware: Scholarly Resources, Inc., 1984.

Wilmore, Gayraud S. Black Religions and Black Radicalism. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1972.

Witvliet, Theo. The Way of the Black Messiah: The Hermeneutical Challenge of Black Theology as a Theology of Liberation. Oak Park: Illinois: Meyer Stone Books, 1987

Wood, John A. Perspectives on War in the Bible. Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 1998.

Wood, Peter H. "Nat Turner: The Unknown Slave as Visionary Leader." In Leon Witwack and August Meier, eds. Black Leaders of the Nineteenth Century. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1988.

Work, John W. ed. American Negro Songs and Spirituals. New York: Bonanza Books, 1950.

Workers of the Writers’ Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Virginia, compilers. The Negro in Virginia. Winston-Salem, North Carolina: John F. Blair, Publisher, 1994.

Young, Henry J. Major Black Religious Leaders, 1755-1940. Nashville: Abingdon, 1979.

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Slave leader's Bible given to museum18 February 2012For a century, the descendants of one of Virginia's oldest families have kept a Bible that connected them to Nat Turner, the slave who led the bloodiest slave revolt in American history. Maurice Person, a descendant of people who were killed during the Turner rebellion, and his stepdaughter, Wendy Porter, decided to give the small Bible to the National Museum of African American History and Culture."It didn't have the home it deserved. It needed to be in a place where it could be seen," Porter said.

Members of Person's family and the Francis family were among the estimated 55 white Virginians killed by Turner and his followers. One of the family members, Lavinia Francis, was hidden by the Francises' house slaves. The gift launched an investigation by museum experts to pinpoint the Bible's origins. They knew its provenance—kept in the courthouse after Turner's trial and execution in 1831. When Virginia's Southampton County Courthouse was being renovated in 1912, an official asked the Person family whether it wanted Turner's Bible. Person's father, Walter, accepted the book and displayed it on the family piano for many years. Later, the family put it in a safe-deposit box. . . .

Even with the ownership clear, the museum did its due diligence. A photograph of the Bible, identified as Turner's, was taken in 1900 and is part of the archives at the University of Virginia. An affidavit in 1969 by Harriet E. Francis, a descendant of Lavinia Francis, is also part of the university archives

. Nora Lockshin, a paper conservator for the Smithsonian Institution Archives, examined the paper, leather, ink and arrangement of the pages. The book, which is a little larger than pocket-size, is missing both covers, part of its spine and one chapter. Its pages are yellowed, and there are watermarks and mold. Because of its age, it cannot be opened flat. "The paper is in good shape, and it is a good, strong rag paper," Lockshin said. She enhanced the 1900 photograph, matching the page in the photo to a page in the book. "It matched the pattern of stains." With the Turner Bible, Bunch said, the museum will tell many stories about the resistance to slavery and the compassion of slaves.—NewsLeader 

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The Price of Civilization

Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity

By Jeffrey D. Sachs

The Price of Civilization is a book that is essential reading for every American. In a forceful, impassioned, and personal voice, he offers not only a searing and incisive diagnosis of our country’s economic ills but also an urgent call for Americans to restore the virtues of fairness, honesty, and foresight as the foundations of national prosperity. Sachs finds that both political parties—and many leading economists—have missed the big picture, offering shortsighted solutions such as stimulus spending or tax cuts to address complex economic problems that require deeper solutions. Sachs argues that we have profoundly underestimated globalization’s long-term effects on our country, which create deep and largely unmet challenges with regard to jobs, incomes, poverty, and the environment. America’s single biggest economic failure, Sachs argues, is its inability to come to grips with the new global economic realities. Sachs describes a political system that has lost its ethical moorings, in which ever-rising campaign contributions and lobbying outlays overpower the voice of the citizenry. . . . Sachs offers a plan to turn the crisis around. He argues persuasively that the problem is not America’s abiding values, which remain generous and pragmatic, but the ease with which political spin and consumerism run circles around those values. He bids the reader to reclaim the virtues of good citizenship and mindfulness toward the economy and one another.

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The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788

By Pauline Maier

A notable historian of the early republic, Maier devoted a decade to studying the immense documentation of the ratification of the Constitution. Scholars might approach her book’s footnotes first, but history fans who delve into her narrative will meet delegates to the state conventions whom most history books, absorbed with the Founders, have relegated to obscurity. Yet, prominent in their local counties and towns, they influenced a convention’s decision to accept or reject the Constitution. Their biographies and democratic credentials emerge in Maier’s accounts of their elections to a convention, the political attitudes they carried to the conclave, and their declamations from the floor. The latter expressed opponents’ objections to provisions of the Constitution, some of which seem anachronistic (election regulation raised hackles) and some of which are thoroughly contemporary (the power to tax individuals directly). Ripostes from proponents, the Federalists, animate the great detail Maier provides, as does her recounting how one state convention’s verdict affected another’s. Displaying the grudging grassroots blessing the Constitution originally received, Maier eruditely yet accessibly revives a neglected but critical passage in American history.—Booklist

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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