Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Andre Johnson

Committee Member

Derefe K Chevannes

Committee Member

Antonio De Velasoc

Committee Member

Christina L Moss


James H. Cone is widely considered to be a forefather of Black Liberation Theology. Over the course of almost 50 years, he established himself as one of the world's most important theologians and a prophetic voice against anti-blackness and other forms of oppression in America. While his theology and career have received much well-deserved attention from religious historians and theologians, very few projects have engaged Cone rhetorically. This dissertation will examine Cone’s first four books: "Black Theology and Black Power", "A Black Theology of Liberation", "The Spirituals and the Blues", and "God of the Oppressed." Using his final and unfinished memoir "Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody: The Making of a Black Theology" as a narrative guide, I employ rhetorical history as a methodological framework that examines the progression of Cone’s prophetic rhetoric, specifically along the lines of what I call resistive prophetic rhetoric. Resistive prophetic rhetoric differs from existing prophetic frames because it places the secular, not the sacred, at the center of the study of prophetic rhetoric. This dissertation investigates Cone's foundational text to unearth the ways he violated place and negotiated controversy in establishing a resistive prophetic rhetoric. More specifically, these foundational texts illuminate that Cone’s prophetic progression develops in four phases: persona, critique of the sacred, elevation of the secular, and commitment to the institution for the sake of the people. These four phases serve as the framework of resistive prophetic rhetoric.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest.


Open Access