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Martin Luther King's Biblical EpicHis Final, Great Speech$
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Keith D. Miller

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781617031083

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781617031083.001.0001

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date: 19 September 2018

If I Do Not Stop, What Will Happen to Them?

If I Do Not Stop, What Will Happen to Them?

King’s Rhetoric of the Body

(p.112) Chapter 6 If I Do Not Stop, What Will Happen to Them?
Martin Luther King's Biblical Epic

Keith D. Miller

University Press of Mississippi

While extending the Exodus and Hebrew prophecy in his final speech “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” Martin Luther King Jr. also knits together Jewish and Christian themes by interpreting the Christian Bible. This chapter examines his use of passages that resonate in the Hebrew Bible and in two books of the Christian Bible—Luke and Acts. It looks at King’s use of two passages from Luke to reconstitute the relationship between Judaism and Christianity and to reframe Memphis, and then comments on his interpretation of the Parable of the Good Samaritan and his recollection of the stabbing that almost killed him in 1958. King’s account of this near-fatal stabbing, along with the wounded traveler in the parable and oppressed garbage workers in Memphis, informs and shapes his concluding words about his own possible death. The chapter concludes with a discussion of King’s construction of a biblical narrative that strongly emphasizes the body as a site of spiritual struggle and triumph.

Keywords:   garbage workers, Martin Luther King, Bible, Judaism, Christianity, Memphis, Good Samaritan, death, body

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