New Book on Black Church

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

A new book by Duke Divinity School Professor Eboni Marshall Turman explores how gender discrimination in the black church is rooted in a theological problem with the human body that has troubled Christianity for centuries, producing violence and fragmentation.

The book, "Toward a Womanist Ethic of Incarnation: Black Bodies, the Black Church, and the Council of Chalcedon," was published by Palgrave Macmillan in December.

Marshall Turman, assistant research professor of black church studies and director of the Office of Black Church Studies at the Divinity School, examines the roots of this problem by looking at the historical problems the church has had engaging the body of Christ.

Beginning with the Council of Chalcedon, which declared in AD 451 that Christ has two natures, she traces a problematic and distorted view of the nature of Christ. This view, she writes, has produced a Christian trajectory of violence against the body that manifests as a social dilemma for black people.

By exploring the black Social Gospel, the book reveals how body injustice, namely sexism, functions behind the veil of race in black churches.

“Jesus matters for black church people,” says Marshall Turman, adding that “the violent and violating problem of body that haunts the black church, or sexism, is rooted in distorted understandings of the person of Christ.”