Exodus and Liberation
Deliverance Politics from John Calvin to Martin Luther King Jr.
Reviews and Awards
Shortlisted for the 2016 Richard L. Greaves Prize by the International John Bunyan Society.
"[A] distinctive and important book....A project of this kind would, one suspects, have been impossible in pre-digital days, but Coffey is consistently alert to historical context and avoids the potential pitfalls of over-systematic citation of the results of a word search. The result is a book that draws together the strengths of traditional and digital modes of scholarship. A related impressive feature is the effective weaving together of theology and politics, blending a sure-footed awareness of the religious background with a sensitivity to the processes by which texts and narratives were used to legitimate rebellion and motivate followers....Both in its content and its methodology, this is a pathbreaking book that sets important agendas for future research and writing."--John Wolffe, English Historical Review
"[A] fascinating...thoroughly-researched and very well-written book."--Reformation 21
"This book, a tour de force of historical research and cultural analysis, demonstrates that a rhetoric of 'deliverance' grounded in several key biblical texts has been an under-appreciated but vitally important theme of political mobilization in Britain and American from the 16th century to the present. The argument is built on careful analysis of these texts from the Book of Exodus and elsewhere in Scripture, and of their surprisingly broad effect in different historical periods and national circumstances. The effect adds significantly to political understanding of religious history and religious understanding of the political. It is a noteworthy, but also surprisingly timely work."--Mark Noll, author of Protestantism: A Very Short Introduction
"Coffey's book is a significant contribution to the work of intellectual historians seeking to discover the roots of Western ideals of liberty, who have sometimes overlooked their origins in Judeo-Christian thought. It is exhaustively researched and rich with data supporting the author's contention that even contemporary references to Exodus have been shaped by a long intertextual tradition of deliverance rhetoric. But its greatest contribution may simply be the rich insight it offers into the power of a big idea and into the potent role that narrative plays in shaping political and social movements."--American Historical Review
"A fascinating, original, and thought-provoking book. In a riveting analysis that crosses centuries and continents, John Coffey explores how a wide range of intellectuals and activists, from American Presidents to African slaves, have been inspired by--and taken advantage of--the biblical ideals of exodus and liberation. This is global, religious, intellectual and social history at its best, raising important questions about the practical power of theology in pursuit of freedom and equality."--Stephen Tuck, author of We Ain't What We Ought To Be: The Black Freedom Struggle from Emancipation to Obama
"With Exodus and Liberation John Coffey makes an original contribution to the literature in this well-written, insightful, and cogently argued text by extending the discussion back to the Reformed Protestant use of Exodus in the English Puritan and Revolutionary movements of the 16th and 17th centuries."--Albert J. Raboteau, Princeton University
"In this study, John Coffey shows that the Exodus narrative has deep roots within Western political discourse going back to the sixteenth century. He meticulously draws out the long tradition of using the narrative in Western political dialogue, specifically with regard to slavery...It is intended as a high compliment that this fascinating and exhaustive work at times reads like a novel."--The Historian