Sabbath Roots: The African Connection

A Biblical Perspective

By Charles E. Bradford

 

This book is about God and His children, how He relates to them. His speech is unrestricted. Never narrowed down to a favored few. This book is about the ways in which Yahweh affirms and assures His offspring of their essential value and self-worth.

This book is about the ancient Edenic Sabbath, the seventh day of the week. The Sabbath is Yahweh*s statement about roots, origins, and beginnings. The Sabbath speaks to the issues of identity, human dignity, justice, freedom, self-determination and self-worth. In the Sabbath, Yahweh is making a statement about Himself and the status of man (human beings) whom He placed on this planet as His deputy. From the biblical perspective, this most ancient of institutions is rooted in African culture.

Indeed, "From the optimal view, all people are African if they go far enough back into their ancestry, holistically back to the beginnings of human culture and civilization. Optimal theory brings to the forefront the realization that we are all one people."1

The Sabbath, week*s end, points us forward to time*s end. The Sabbath is about fulfilment and justice, the kind of world Yahweh had in mind when He said, "Let there be . . ."

This book comes out of the biblical perspective. Theologians, preachers, and biblical scholars in the African-American tradition have always used the Bible as an instrument of survival and defense. The Bible is a survival kit. The cool, detached attitude of the ivory tower is not a luxury that we can afford. The matter of Bible study is more than an academic exercise. All this good knowledge must be applied. It is a fight for survival, and Scripture is an arsenal. The battle is real. Theology must work for people. It must be liberating, empowering. It must relate to life. The Pan-African dilemma, clear and present danger, produces a kind of practical ecumenism, a common bond among Black scholars. Until the people are fully liberated, pure theologizing is an irrelevance. Anything less than solid applicable (usable) Bible study is "pie in the sky."

As computer hard drives pick up clutter, so do the pages of history, especially at the hands of human writers. From time to time we must sweep the litter away from the account of history, which was written, to a great extent, with a crooked pen. The great African philosopher Okot p*Bitek used to say, "To correct error is as respectable an aim as to increase knowledge."2

His European contemporaries observed that "p*Bitek stresses, the smelling out of error in Western scholarship and exorcizing it is a primary task of the African intellectual, especially the scholar of religious studies."3 P*Bitek even went so far as to say that "once scholarship is identified with the mission of correcting past errors, social commitment becomes perfectly compatible with high scholarship."4

This book seeks to make a clean sweep–to restore Yahweh*s Word in power to those of His children who most need it, to give them, in the name of the Most High God, a massive infusion of genuine self-respect and self-love.

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1Reginald Jones, ed., Black Psychology (Berkeley, Calif.: Cob and Henry Publishers,1991), p. 20.

2African Religions in Western Civilization, East Africa Literature Bureau, p. 123.

3African Traditional Religion in South Africa (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1997), pp. 1, 2).

4p*Bitek, p. 123.