Phi Beta Kappa Society's Behind The Key Interview

Vincent L. Wimbush, Ph.D. (ΦΒΚ, Morehouse College) is an internationally recognized scholar of religion and a former Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar. The founding director of the Institute for Signifying Scriptures, he has authored or edited over a dozen books, and is the past president of the Society of Biblical Literature. He has previously taught at Union Theological Seminary (New York City); Claremont (CA) School of Theology; Claremont Graduate University; Harvard Divinity School; and Williams College, among others. His research focuses on the critical transdisciplinary study of “scriptures” as a sharp analytical wedge for research and theorizing in the politics and social-psychologics of language, social (de-) formation, conscientization, and orientation to the world, using the experiences of African Americans (and the African diaspora more broadly) to think with.  Click here to read the entire interview

Interview with Dr. Vincent Wimbush by Dr. Darrell Ezell at the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel Library at Morehouse College (Atlanta, GA) June 20, 2017

Religion scholar Wimbush brings talk on 'Signifying Scriptures' to Carleton

How are the scriptures used in society today?

It’s a question that religion scholar Dr. Vincent Wimbush has been exploring for a number of years now, and it’s a topic he’ll be discussing with his upcoming lecture at Carleton College.

The talk, “Signifying On Scriptures: The Black Atlantic Reads the King James Bible,” is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. on April 14 at the college’s Great Hall.

The lecture is part of the Phi Beta Kappa’s Visiting Scholar Program.

Wimbush is the author of numerous books on this topic, including “African Americans and The Bible,” “Scripturalizing The Human: The Written as The Political” and “Theorizing Scriptures.”

“I have been constructing and advancing what I think of as new, alternative and critical fields of studies that excavates what scriptures are, and the work human beings make them do for them in any particular part of history,” Wimbush said.

He said the use of scriptures is a broad way to explore discourse and the power of language.

“I use the scriptures as a lever to think about the whole phenomena of how human beings are shaped,” he said.

Following what he called training in classical approaches and studies to the history of religion early on in his academic career, Wimbush said he was aware that there was a great deal of the world that had been left out — specifically the identity of African Americans, or the “Black Atlantic,” following the onset of slavery.

“What I am presenting is a way to understand how we have been shaped into becoming what we are, to do what we do and to relate to one another,” he said. “It is really a project in social formation and human making.”

Read more here, via

Phi Beta Kappa Lectures

Since 1956, the Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program has been offering undergraduates the opportunity to spend time with some of America's most distinguished scholars. The purpose of the program is to contribute to the intellectual life of the campus by making possible an exchange of ideas between the Visiting Scholars and the resident faculty and students. History of the Visiting Scholar Program.

The Visiting Scholars travel to 100 colleges and universities each year, spending two days on each campus and taking full part in the academic life of the institution. They meet informally with students and faculty members, participate in classroom discussions and seminars, and give a public lecture open to the academic community and the general public.

Vincent Wimbush is one of the Visiting Scholars for the 2015-2016 academic year. 



Thur-Fri, September 17-18          Texas Christian University, Fort Worth

Thur-Fri, October 15-16               Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia

Thur-Fri, October 22-23               University of Georgia, Athens

Thur-Fri, November 12-13           Rhodes College, Memphis, Tennessee

Thur-Fri, January 28-29               Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio

Thur-Fri, February 11-12              University of Missouri, Columbia

Thur-Fri, March 3-4                       University of Wisconsin-Madison

Thur-Fri, March 24-25                   Rockford University, Rockford, Illinois

Thur-Fri, April 14-15                     Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota


Scripturalization:  A Theory of the Politics of Language

Scripturalizing the Human:  Fathoming Discourse and Power

Signifying on Scriptures:  The Black Atlantic Reads King James