This article explores the problem of conceptualizing Black Judaism as a religious tradition within the African American community. Briefly outlining the dominant discourse that has framed Black Judaism as primarily a social-political movement couched in Black nationalist-messianic language, it discusses the need for a definition and conceptualization of Black Judaism that provides an entry into an analysis that does not fall into the discursive trap of legitimacy-focused research. The article offers a definition of Black Judaism that is situated within the larger structure of Black religion, and it explores the importance of nomenclature in regard to ethno-religious identity and religious practice within the diverse threads of Hebrew Israelite religion. Finally, a typological framework is offered for the study of Black Judaism that gives consideration to both theological unity and the diversity of Black Hebrew religious thought and practice.


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pp. 31-66
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