Even though Martin Luther King, Jr. constantly cited the Bible, no one has seriously examined his rhetoric as biblical hermeneutic. Here I argue that in "I Have a Dream," King explodes closed memories of the Exodus by reconceptualizing a hermeneutic of (Second) Isaiah as he interprets African-Americans' experience of oppression and exile in Babylon/America and their hope for a new Exodus. Drawing on African-American political rhetoric, King spotlights biblical writers' dialogue with each other and extends the arc of biblical narrative into the present. He also anticipates certain forms of liberation theology of the 1970s and beyond.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Language and Linguistics
- Literature and Literary Theory