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Marbury Addresses ‘What’s Going On?’ During Upcoming Lecture

(AUSTIN, Texas) Herbert R. Marbury will address church relevancy through the message “What’s Going On? The Black Church and the New Culture Wars: Contesting Black Lives in the Obama Era” during the Tenth Annual Huston-Tillotson University Bishop E.T. Dixon Lecture.  The Lecture will be held on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on the campus in the Agard-Lovinggood Auditorium, 900 Chicon Street.
Four decades ago, Marvin Gaye asked the critical question, “What’s Going On?” His social critique in lyrical form raised the consciousness of a generation.  This lecture asks Gaye’s question at the intersection of civic and spiritual engagement between the black church and a black community still under assault and raises questions for the legacy of the next generation.
Marbury researches the Bible’s textuality—that is how biblical texts come to meaning both in the ancient world and in the contemporary worlds of modern United States communities. Although he turns to cultural studies, he grounds his work in both historical-critical and hermeneutical methods.  In the ancient world, he focuses on Judah under Persian and Hellenistic imperial domination, which are the societies from which much of the literature of the Hebrew Bible emerged. In his first book, Imperial Dominion and Priestly Genius (Sopher Press, September, 2012) he focuses on Ezra-Nehemiah and asks, “What meaning(s) might Ezra-Nehemiah have held for elites in Persian Jerusalem?” He investigates the Second Temple community’s counter-narratives of resistance against imperial domination.
Since 2012 Marbury has served as co-chair of the African American Biblical Hermeneutics section of the Society of Biblical Literature. There, he raises the question of meaning for African American communities. In Pillars of Cloud and Fire: The Politics of Exodus in African American Biblical Interpretation (New York University Press, 2015), he uses cultural studies as a mode of inquiry and builds on the method developed in Imperial Dominion. Pillars of Cloud and Fire recovers trajectories of counter-history in examples of African American biblical interpretation heretofore unexamined by biblical scholars. Focusing on figures such as Absalom Jones, David Walker, Zora Neale Hurston, Frances E. W. Harper, Adam Clayton Powell, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Albert Cleage, Marbury asks, “What meaning(s) has the exodus story held for successive African American communities in the U.S. from the antebellum period through the era the Black Power Movement?”
Marbury holds a doctorate degree in Religion from Vanderbilt University and the Master of Divinity degree from Gammon Theological Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center.
Dixon, for which the lecture is named, is one of two HT graduates to receive “bishop” status.  He graduated magna cum laude from what was Samuel Huston College in 1943 before earning a degree from Drew Theological Seminary. He served the church and community in numerous positions while establishing innovative programs before and after becoming president of Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas. He retired in 1992 and died in 1996. Huston-Tillotson is affiliated with The United Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ, and offers a minor in religious studies.
Free and open to the public.  For more information, contact Rev. Donald E. Brewington, University Chaplain, 512.505.3054, or