Gnostic Obia from Chukwu Abiama to Jah Rastafari: A Theology of the JamAfrican Obia Catholic Church Open Access

Anderson, Claudette Andrea (2010)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/z029p543p?locale=en
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Gnostic Obia from Chukwu Abiama to Jah Rastafari: A Theology of the JamAfrican Obia Catholic Church

by Claudette A. Anderson

What is Obia? For centuries, Obia has been demonized as the foolish superstition of deluded Diasporic Africans. The prevailing attitudes toward Obia in Jamaica and the West have been shaped by ethnocentric British discourse framed in the 1760 Obeah Act which outlawed "the wicked Art of Negroes." Notwithstanding hegemonic representations of Obia which consistently fail to define it, Obia remains the enduring signifier of African culture and religion in Jamaica. Using Igbo mysticism as a theological framework, this dissertation argues for a reconceptualization of Obia as a form of Gnosticism or Revealed Knowledge. This scholarship differs from previous studies of Obia by using an interdisciplinary approach grounded in Esotericism, Spiritual Anthropology and Cognitive Science of Religion. I utilize the heteroglossia of interdisciplinary scholarship to argue that the Obia of the Niger Delta Ndibia, as well as other continental African healing professions, were transformed within the context of spiritual terror which characterized Jamaican slave society. Ultimately, this dissertation advances a theology of JamAfrican Obia as pan-human universal religion, comprised of eight major denominations which together constitute the JamAfrican Obia Catholic Church (JOCC). In this conceptualization, "Working Obia" references the techniques, rituals and activities attendant to the acquisition and use of Revealed Knowledge; and the noun Obia defines (1) the body of Revealed Knowledge and (2) the Obia practitioner as Gnostic Revealer.

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1. "TANK YUH JEESAS FI DIS OBIA!" A PRELIMINARY TOWARDS JAMAFRICAN GNOSTIC OBIA THEOLOGY...1
2. "ONE NEGRO CAN BEWITCH ANOTHER (OBIA THEY CALL IT)": WORKING "THE UNCLEAN THING" AND EFFECTING "POWERFUL HEALING"...62
3. A HISTORY OF THE PROBLEM OF OBIA: THIS "BLACK THREAD OF MISCHIEF, AS POWERFUL AN AGENT AS SLAVERY"...109
4. FROM OBIA MISSION TO OBEAH FACTORY: SPIRIT THEOLOGY AND THE JAMAFRICAN OBIA CATHOLIC CHURCH...154
5. GNOSTIC OBIA: AFRICAN SPIRITUOLOGY FROM CHUKWU ABIAMA TO JAH RASTAFARI...208
6. BIBLIOGRAPHY...264

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