23 June 2011

What The Bible Really Says About Slavery

What The Bible Really Says About Slavery, by Greg Carey (Huffington Post, 22 June 2011)

Excerpts:
Slavery stands as the single most contested issue in the history of biblical interpretation in the United States. Not only did the nation fracture over slavery, denominations did too. Northern and Southern Baptists, Presbyterians, and Methodists remained divided until well into the twentieth century; in fact, Southern Baptists still represent the nation's largest Protestant denomination. What did slavery mean in the biblical world, and how did biblical authors respond to it?

Don't let anybody tell you that biblical slavery was somehow less brutal than slavery in the United States. Without exception, biblical societies were slaveholding societies. The Bible engages remarkably diverse cultures -- Ethiopian, Egyptian, Canaanite, Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, and Roman -- but in every one of them some people owned the rights to others. Slaveowners possessed not only the slaves' labor but also their sexual and reproductive capacities. When the Bible refers to female slaves who do not "please" their masters, we're talking about the sexual use of slaves. Likewise when the Bible spells out the conditions for marrying a slave (see Exodus 21:7-11).
Link: What The Bible Really Says About Slavery


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