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Pillars of Cloud and FireThe Politics of Exodus in African American Biblical Interpretation$
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Herbert Robinson Marbury

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781479835966

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479835966.001.0001

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Exodus and Hurston

Exodus and Hurston

Toward a Humanist Critique of Black Religion in the Harlem Renaissance

(p.107) 3 Exodus and Hurston
Pillars of Cloud and Fire

Herbert Robinson Marbury

NYU Press

This chapter focuses on the New Negro Movement, particularly as the Harlem Renaissance manifests it. It studies the work of Zora Neale Hurston as emblematic of the Harlem Renaissance intellectual tradition. In 1939, Hurston published Moses, Man of the Mountain, the first novel-length treatment of the exodus story, in which she offers an important critique to many in the Black Church and a people who have accepted the religion of their enslavers, a cautionary tale about the limits of any singular mosaic hero, and message of hope about the power of the collective's religious imagination. In the aftermath of the Great Depression, Hurston is suspicious of the black community's reliance upon divine activity to resolve social ills. She focuses her pillar of fire politics on questions of African American self-reliance and human agency.

Keywords:   New Negro Movement, Harlem Renaissance, Zora Neale Hurston, Black Church, Great Depression, African American self-reliance

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