In this, his premiere work, Cornel West challenges African Americans to consider the incorporation of Marxism into their theological perspectives, thereby adopting the mindset that it is class more so than race that renders one powerless in America. His work reflects political and cultural perspectives borne out of his own formative life experiences. Decades later, his arguments continue to capture the theological imagination of many and influence the critical engagement of generations of scholars.
In this fortieth anniversary edition, West invites six prominent scholars—whose respective work are grounded in various aspects of black political, cultural, and theological thought—into dialogue with this work, each writing one chapter plus a foreword by Jonathan Lee Walton. Continuing and expanding on the revolutionary discourses that West introduced in the first published work, each new essay provides nuanced lens for thinking about movements of liberation in today’s African American communities.
“Piercing, rigorous and rooted in a profound love for a people heroic, yet despised, Prophesy Deliverance! is as relevant and instructive today as it was 40 years ago! This book offers a philosophical and theological blueprint for freedom. Prophesy changed me as a graduate student and this updated edition will ensure that subsequent generations will have this vital guide as they continue to imagine, work for and prophesy deliverance for all of God's people."
—Marla Frederick, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Religion and Culture, Candler School of Theology, Emory University
"No one is able to braid together the traditions of Black culture, Christian thought, and Marxist criticism as creatively and productively as Cornel West. Prophesy Deliverance! was a game changer when it was first published in 1982 and it's insights are only more relevant today; a fact evidenced in the wonderful new introduction and responses included in this 40th anniversary edition. Gratitude to Jonathan L. Walton for introducing a new audience of readers both to West's early scholarship and the witness of the next generation of thinkers indebted to his work."
—Josef Sorett, Dean, Columbia College; Henry L and Lucy G. Moses Professor, Columbia University
“Prophesy Deliverance! is one of those rare books that shaped an entire generation. Scholars, preachers, and thinkers have been consciously and unconsciously influenced by its deep wells of knowledge, insight, and call to action. Forty years later, that well still runs deep. Now with this re-release, new foreword, and accompanying contextual essays, a new generation is invited to gather at the well.”
–Lerone A. Martin, Martin Luther King, Jr., Centennial Professor and Director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute, Stanford University
“In the now classic Prophesy Deliverance! we see Cornel West emerge not only as a famed public philosopher but also as an august teacher. Diligently genealogical, West outlines the architecture of modern white supremacist thought and carefully traces vibrant tributaries of Black thought that respond to and exceed the strictures of oppressive anti-Black structures. Dynamically creative, West synthesizes Black Christian and Marxist traditions to imagine a prophetic Black theology that can reframe liberation in terms of spirited visions of redistributive futures. Because his work models the virtues of deep historical, critical, and constructive analysis, it is an essential and generative classroom text. Because it undertakes a vigorous discussion of some of our nation’s most confounding and powerful idea systems—racism, modernity, economic inequality, and the Afro-Protestant religious imagination—it remains a relevant and important text for us all.”
–Todne Thomas, Assistant Professor of African American Religions at Harvard Divinity School and Suzanne Young Murray Assistant Professor, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University