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Q: Can I get a witness? ( No Answer,   4 Comments )
Subject: Can I get a witness?
Category: Reference, Education and News
Asked by: seakinginfo-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 10 Mar 2006 11:48 PST
Expires: 09 Apr 2006 12:48 PDT
Question ID: 705808
What is the original sourse of the phrase "Can I get a witness"? Is it IN the Bible?

Request for Question Clarification by tutuzdad-ga on 10 Mar 2006 14:02 PST
As some of the comments suggest, I managed to find an early reference
to the phrase ?Can I get a witness? which probably has its origin in
the African American Christian church. Nannie Helen Burroughs, who
lived from 1879 to 1961, was an historical figure in Black American
Culture. In this excerpt from the cultural study entitled ?A CULTURAL
describes a customary service that dates back to 19th Century church

?Witnessing, within the Black religious tradition, indicated a
fulfillment of an expectation of God-intervention in everyday life
(Ross, 1989). In addition to anticipation of divine presence in
everyday living, witnessing also involves an affirmation of
understanding among Black women, as a collective group, that God had
and would work in the lives of church women. On a community level in
religious services, church members may take time to give a testimony
of how God has moved in their lives. Then, after telling their story,
the speaker engages the audience by stating, ?Can I get a witness?
Within this context, the speaker is asking if anyone has experienced
the move of divine intervention similar to her own experiences. In
turn, members within the audience express affirmation through hand
clapping and shout of "Amen!"


Please let me know if this works for you as an answer.


Clarification of Question by seakinginfo-ga on 13 Mar 2006 13:56 PST
Thanks, Tutuzdad (and others)! Great answers. Seakinginfo
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Can I get a witness?
From: pinkfreud-ga on 10 Mar 2006 11:55 PST
I doubt that an "original source" can be identified. "Can I get a
witness" is a common exclamation in African-American church services.
It's not from the Bible. It's used in exhorting the congregation, in a
way similar to the phrases "Say hallelujah" or "Say amen."
Subject: Re: Can I get a witness?
From: tutuzdad-ga on 10 Mar 2006 12:35 PST
Stevie Wonder wrote it in 1967 - not the first perhaps, but he helped
make it popular:


Subject: Re: Can I get a witness?
From: pinkfreud-ga on 10 Mar 2006 12:39 PST
Stevie Wonder may have popularized the phrase, but he certainly didn't
coin it. I heard "Can I get a witness" in a church in the 1950s, and
I'm sure it's much older than that.
Subject: Re: Can I get a witness?
From: markvmd-ga on 10 Mar 2006 13:41 PST
Witnessing was very important in human history. To state you were
witness to an event was to ratify a claim.

The Bible has some 100 references to witnessing.

Genesis 21:30, "Accept these seven lambs from my hand as a witness
that I dug this well."

Genesis 31:44, "Let us make a covenant, that it serve as a witness between us."

Genesis 31:50, " ...remember that God is a witness between you and me."

Exodus 23:1, [Laws of Justice and Mercy] "Do not help a wicked man by
being a malicious witness."

Numbers 35:30, "Anyone who kills a person is to be put to death as a
murderer only on the testimony of witnesses, but no one is to be put
to death on the testimony of only one witness."

Joshua 24:27, ' "See!" he said to all the people, "This stone will be
a witness against us; it has heard all the words the LORD has said to
us; it will be a witness against you if you are untrue to your God." '

[The above are from the NIV, a rather casual translation]

Acts has 12 references to witnessing, John has five and Revelations has five.

It is interesting to note that of the roughly 100 references to
"witness", about half of them specify more than one witness.

So that settles it, 'cuz you can't get TWO people to fib, right? Hey,
it's my Theory of Dual Witness Infallibility of the Biblical Era. I
dare you to try to disprove it!

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