Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


Religious Studies

First Advisor's Name

Tudor Parfitt

First Advisor's Committee Title

committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Erik Larson

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Oren Stier

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


Ethnohistory, Black, Israelites

Date of Defense



The aim of this thesis was to investigate the ethno-history of the Church of God and Saints of Christ and African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem. Both religious movements were started by African Americans who passed through slavery. The former started in 1892, and the latter in the 1960s. They claimed an Israelite ancestry, and built their religious movements on what they accepted to be Israelite culture.

I found the basic question to be what made these men claim an Israelite identity. I tried to answer this question by examining the cultural conditions in which the founders of the two movements found themselves when they formed the movements. The methodology that I engaged stresses that culture forges people.

I found that the deracialization that the founders suffered as slaves led them to appropriate an Israelite identity. In turn, this served to restore the dignity of the African Americans.



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