Summer book study: Reading While Black

St. John’s members: consider joining our reading group, alternate Sunday evenings, on Esau McCaulley’s Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope. 

If we are going to be serious about coming to terms with racism and racial justice, we need to desegregate the way we read the Bible. Reading and discussing McCaulley’s Reading While Black provides us with a step toward doing that by introducing us to how Black readers have and continue to read the Bible on issues like policing, the political witness of the Church, justice, Black identity, and slavery. What does the Bible have to say about these pressing issues? We can learn more by listening to how our brothers and sisters in Christ have read Scripture. Reading this book in community will assist us in going deeper theologically together.

Each chapter in Reading While Black takes on an interesting and important issue. Here is a list of the chapters:

1. The South Got Somethin’ to Say: Making space for Black ecclesial interpretation.

2. Freedom Is No Fear: The New Testament and a theology of policing.

3. Tired Feet, Rested Souls: The New Testament and the political witness of the church.

4. Reading While Black: The Bible and the pursuit of justice.

5. Black and Proud: The Bible and Black identity.

6. What Shall We Do With This Rage? The Bible and Black anger.

7. The Freedom of Slaves: Pennington’s triumph

McCaulley’s voice is especially important to listen to because he is one of us. He is an Anglican priest and an evangelical (in the sense in which St. John’s is evangelical), and is deeply concerned with faithfully reading Scripture.

I hope I’ve piqued your interest in joining us. We will be meeting (roughly) every other week from May 16 through the summer, from 7:00-8:30 PM.  We’ll be meeting virtually over Zoom (since some of our participants are out of state for the summer) and the Zoom link will be posted in the weekly parish emails.

To read more about the book or to purchase your copy, here are links to the publisher and Amazon. The book is also available from the New Haven Free Public Library in digital form. Also available digitally through the NHFPL Hoopla program. For more information, see

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