The Cross and the Lynching Tree

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  • Winner of the 2018 Grawemeyer Award in Religion
  • "One of the Top 11 Religion Books of the Year," The Huffington Post
  • First Place Winner in Theology, Catholic Press Association
  • Gold Medal Winner, Independent Book Publishers Book Awards

"Based on impressive research, Cone argues that the lynching tree is a viable reality/symbol for reflection on the cross of Christ. According to Cone, understandings of the cross and lynching tree can mutually inform one another and explain how events of trauma and injustice can still inspire hope for the African American community.” --Christianity Today

 "No one has explored the spiritual world of African Americans with the depth or breadth of Cone. Here he turns his attention to two symbols that dominated not only the spiritual world but also the daily life of African Americans in the twentieth century. In their inextricable tie, he finds both the terror and hope that governed life under violent racism as well as potent symbols of the African American past and present in the United States."  --Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard University

"Once again James Cone demonstrates why he is indispensable as an interpreter of faith, race, and the American experience." —Bill Moyers

"James Cone is a world-historical figure in twentieth- century Christian theology. The Cross and the Lynching Tree is a powerful and painful song for hope in our dance with mortality—a song Cone courageously has led for over forty years!"Cornel West

James H. Cone (1938-2018) was the Bill and Judith Moyers Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology at Union Theological Seminary. His books include A Black Theology of Liberation, Martin & Malcolm & America: A Dream or a Nightmare, and The Cross and the Lynching Tree, winner of the 2018 Grawemeyer Award in Religion. This year he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Book Details

The Cross and the Lynching Tree
James H. Cone
This book should be read by all contemporary theologians, ethicists, and those who dare to preach about the relation of the authentic gospel of Jesus Christ to racial concerns.
An important gift bequeathed to us by James Cone, black theology's most important truth-teller.
James Cone's book screams out at the grisly intersection of virulent racism - as enacted in lynchings between 1880 and 1930 - and the general complacency, even complicity, of white Christians. Yet his genius is in not only depicting the compelling link between these acts and Jesus' crucifixion; but also showing how their avoidance by America's supposed Christian believers over the years continue to disfigure our race relations today
... a worthy addition to Cone's lifelong project of relentless truth-telling with matchless courage.
"The Cross and the Lynching Tree was a series of revelations for me. Where history and theology textbooks fall short, this book delivers, and I am grateful for the education I received from it. I found the book informative, challenging, edifying, and inspirational. It invites a prayerful response, of confession, petition, and reformation.
". . . a poignant and incisive meditation on the symbolic connection between the cross and the lynching tree in the African American experience."
"...powerful and engaging..."
"Cone holds these two symbols in creative tension with explosive results, achieving what many white theologians in the past century (such as Reinhold Niebuhr) failed to do: make the link between them explicit, allow each to interpret and inform the other, offer both black and white Christians the possibility of reconciliation and the healing of old wounds."
"...another theologically pioneering text...the first sustained juxtaposition of the Christian cross with the lynching tree of Black Americans as a theological problem."
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