Podcast: Empire and Race in the Book of Acts
Dr. Willie James Jennings discusses how Acts subverts the very normative hope of flourishing empire and power. He walks through the hope of the diaspora and the reclamation of the idea of kingdom by Christ himself. Good stuff!
Theology of the Raw: Dr. Jennings is Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Africana Studies at Yale University and has written several books including The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race (Yale 2010), which won the American Academy of Religion Award of Excellence in the Study of Religion in the Constructive-Reflective category the year after it appeared and, in 2015 and the Grawemeyer Award in Religion, the largest prize for a theological work in North America. His commentary on the Book of Acts, titled Acts: A Commentary, The Revolution of the Intimate (for the Belief Series, Westminster/John Knox) received the Reference Book of the Year Award from The Academy of Parish Clergy in 2018.
In this episode, Dr. Jenning helps us understand how the book of Acts critiques empire and imperial values, and also how the early Christians in the book of Acts were wrestling with ethnic reconciliation and inclusion. Toward the end of the episode, we talk about the concept of “Whiteness”–what it means, what it doesn’t mean, and how it can be a useful tool for people to use to think through the history and politics of race.