God, Empire, and the Hip Hop Prophets: Twenty-First Century Contexts for Prophetic Theology
This thesis researches the nature of the continuity of post-Biblical prophecy within the fields of African-American studies, biblical scholarship, and the theological analysis of hip hop music. The hermeneutic of imperialism is used as a conceptual framework for interpreting prophecy, following the work of Crossan, Horsley, Brueggemann and other biblical scholars. These insights, along with the discussion of the African-American prophetic tradition as identified by Cornel West and various proponents of Black Liberation Theology, are brought into dialogue with hip hop music in order to identify a twenty-first century context for examining the continuity of prophecy in post-Biblical times, as well as the continuity of the African-American prophetic tradition after the civil rights movement. This dialogue creates a methodological framework within which hip hop music is identified as a contemporary prophetic context. Selections from the work of hip hop artists such as 2Pac, Lauryn Hill, Nas, Common, Lupe Fiasco, Talib Kweli, and Damian Marley, among others, are analyzed as prophetic texts, and their implications for twenty-first century American religious and social institutions are considered. In light of this research, selected hip hop artists and songs are found to be a genuine examples of contemporary prophecy, as well as valuable spaces for interreligious and intercultural dialogue.