• Warriors and Prophets of Livity: Samson and Moses as Moral Exemplars in Rastafari

      Rey, Terry; Alpert, Rebecca T. (Rebecca Trachtenberg), 1950-; Schipper, Jeremy; Shellhorse, Adam Joseph (Temple University. Libraries, 2016)
      Since the early 1970’s, Rastafari has enjoyed public notoriety disproportionate to the movement’s size and humble origins in the slums of Kingston, Jamaica roughly forty years earlier. Yet, though numerous academics study Rastafari, a certain lacuna exists in contemporary scholarship in regards to the movement’s scriptural basis. By interrogating Rastafari’s recovery of the Hebrew Bible from colonial powers and Rastas’ adoption of an Israelite identity, this dissertation illuminates the biblical foundation of Rastafari ethics and symbolic registry. An analysis of the body of scholarship on Rastafari, as well as of the reggae canon, reveals the centrality of an Israelite identity for Rastas and its enabling of Rastafari resistance to racial oppression. Furthermore, the Hebrew Bible is, for Rastas, key to an intimate relationship with Jah, for it reveals their chosenness and their inherent divine nature. They both textually confirm this election and enact it through ritual practice. By interrogating the methods Rastas apply to the pages of the Bible in order to ascertain their appointment and decipher proper ritual practice, this dissertation expands scholarly conversations about Rastafari biblical hermeneutics. Centering on readings of Samson and Moses, it suggests that these two biblical actors function as moral exemplars and models of livity for Rastas. Despite the transgressive nature of Samson and Moses, Rastas adopt them as co-practitioners and paradigms of Rastafari election because when Samson and Moses are Rastas, all Rastas can claim their chosenness, strength, and relationship with Jah.