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The Bible condones slavery? Really?

Vincent

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I've heard numerous people say on this site that the Bible condones slavery. I never really got that impression. In fact, in this verse in the New Testament, slave traders are listed in a 'bad list' along with murderers--most will agree, that pretty clearly says the Bible holds negative views towards slavery. So please, don't go around saying that the Bible condones slavery--it's not quite true. And it irritates me.

In 1 Timothy 1:8-10, the New Living Translation of the Bible.
"We know that the law is good when used correctly. For the law was not intended for people who do what is right. It is for people who are lawless and rebellious, who are ungodly and sinful, who consider nothing sacred and defile what is holy, who kill their father or mother or commit other murders. The law is for people who are sexually immoral, or who practice homosexuality, or are slave traders, liars, promise breakers, or who do anything else that contradicts the wholesome teaching that comes from the glorious Good News entrusted to me by our blessed God."

As you see, this verse pretty clearly states that slave traders are doing something that "contradicts the wholesome teaching that comes from the glorious Good News entrusted to me by our Blessed God."
 

topshelf

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As a historical document, the Bible is way out front of other contemporary texts on slavery - actually calling it immoral and telling slave masters they will have to answer for it.
 

Goshin

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A form of servitude was condoned, but it was a temporary thing, normally lasting only 7 years.

"Slavery" in the sense most people mean it and think of it, no.
 

topshelf

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A form of servitude was condoned, but it was a temporary thing, normally lasting only 7 years.

"Slavery" in the sense most people mean it and think of it, no.

I'm not certain condone is the right word - it was a reality in the ancient world that the Bible talks about. But from the passages Vincent posted, as well as others - the Hebrew God's position is clearly against it.
 

CriticalThought

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New Living Translation of the Bible

Ooookay. Why the hell would you use a translation of the Bible that has been around for 14 years? The concept and word of "homosexuality" did not even exist until the 19th century, so that should tell you how ridiclous a translation it is.

Try an older translation...

King James Version

But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;

9Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,

10For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine

Hm...nothing about slave trading. Wow! Isn't that interesting? Slave trading just suddenly appears in newer translations of the Bible. Isn't that oddly convienent? Why do you suppose that is?

Oh wait...manstealers? You know who else was considered "manstealers". Abolitionists! How odd that the older translation of the Bible seems to condemn those who sought to free slaves but the newer translations of the Bible argues that "manstealers" were apparantly "slave traders". Wow, very interesting.
 

CriticalThought

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A form of servitude was condoned, but it was a temporary thing, normally lasting only 7 years.

"Slavery" in the sense most people mean it and think of it, no.

Do you have any reference whatsoever to back up that assertion?
 

topshelf

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Again it was a reality of the ancient world, but various passages in Deuteronomy, Ephesians and Colossians do give very specific warnings to slave masters against mistreating their slaves.

It should also be noted - slavery in ancient times generally wasn't against a particular race. It was usually a result of conquest or a matter of indentured servitude.
 

The Baron

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"I've heard numerous people say on this site that the Bible condones slavery." - Vincent

The Bible recognized that there were slaves and addressed the issue of the relationship between masters and slaves (see the book of Philmon...it's only a page long--not a "book" at all, really, just a short letter from Paul).

But recognizing slavery is not the same thing as condoning it as so many would have you believe. The Bible also recognizes lying, adultery and murder but is does not condone these things. The Ten Commandments is evidence of that.
 

topshelf

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Do you have any reference whatsoever to back up that assertion?

Deuteronomy 15:12–15
12 And rif thy brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee. 13 And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty: 14 Thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the Lord thy God hath sblessed thee thou shalt give unto him. 15 And tthou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing to day.
 

American

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I've heard numerous people say on this site that the Bible condones slavery. I never really got that impression. In fact, in this verse in the New Testament, slave traders are listed in a 'bad list' along with murderers--most will agree, that pretty clearly says the Bible holds negative views towards slavery. So please, don't go around saying that the Bible condones slavery--it's not quite true. And it irritates me.

In 1 Timothy 1:8-10, the New Living Translation of the Bible.


As you see, this verse pretty clearly states that slave traders are doing something that "contradicts the wholesome teaching that comes from the glorious Good News entrusted to me by our Blessed God."

What was that about homosexuality?
 

Goshin

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I'm not certain condone is the right word - it was a reality in the ancient world that the Bible talks about. But from the passages Vincent posted, as well as others - the Hebrew God's position is clearly against it.


We'd have to get in to what "version" of slavery we're talking about to define that. There were MANY different types of slavery, along with various types of voluntary or involuntary servitude, in ancient times. Different cultures practiced different versions. In some cultures, a "Slave" was more like a contract employee or a subordinate family member. In others, more like a servant who was required to fulfill a certain number of years of servitude before he could be free (IF he wanted to be.... "free" also meant "free to starve if you don't succeed independently"). In some cultures, some types of slaves were treated as little more than expendable animals, what people usually think of when they think of "SLAVERY!"

Throughout much of ancient times, however, there were a relatively small number of people who were either clan/tribal patriarchs and owned vast flocks and lands; or who owned business intrests. Then there were the far larger numbers of people who owned very little, and worked for one of the patriarchs or wealthy men in some capacity. In many cases this involved what we would currently call "bond servitude" or "indenture".... that is, you agreed to work for your master in return for upkeep for you and your family, for a certain period of time, and you were not free during that time period. This was the condition of many or most people during this era, and it had about as much resemblance to being an employee as to being a "slave" (in the sense people usually mean the term, thinking about whips and blocks and chains and selling off parents and children seperately, and so on... the worst forms of slavery).

To be sure, the OT took a position on slavery or involuntary servitude that was far more humane than most other cultures of the time.
 

topshelf

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To be sure, the OT took a position on slavery or involuntary servitude that was far more humane than most other cultures of the time.

Indeed - and if you go back to the original greek rather than just the KJV version, the translations can sometimes be much more forceful. Greek is a unique but very descriptive language - same with Hebrew.
 

CriticalThought

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Deuteronomy 15:12–15
12 And rif thy brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee. 13 And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty: 14 Thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the Lord thy God hath sblessed thee thou shalt give unto him. 15 And tthou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing to day.

So if you were a Hebrew slave, then you had it pretty good. Only 7 years. Now what about every other kind of slave?
 

CriticalThought

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We'd have to get in to what "version" of slavery we're talking about to define that. There were MANY different types of slavery, along with various types of voluntary or involuntary servitude, in ancient times. Different cultures practiced different versions. In some cultures, a "Slave" was more like a contract employee or a subordinate family member. In others, more like a servant who was required to fulfill a certain number of years of servitude before he could be free (IF he wanted to be.... "free" also meant "free to starve if you don't succeed independently"). In some cultures, some types of slaves were treated as little more than expendable animals, what people usually think of when they think of "SLAVERY!"

Throughout much of ancient times, however, there were a relatively small number of people who were either clan/tribal patriarchs and owned vast flocks and lands; or who owned business intrests. Then there were the far larger numbers of people who owned very little, and worked for one of the patriarchs or wealthy men in some capacity. In many cases this involved what we would currently call "bond servitude" or "indenture".... that is, you agreed to work for your master in return for upkeep for you and your family, for a certain period of time, and you were not free during that time period. This was the condition of many or most people during this era, and it had about as much resemblance to being an employee as to being a "slave" (in the sense people usually mean the term, thinking about whips and blocks and chains and selling off parents and children seperately, and so on... the worst forms of slavery).

To be sure, the OT took a position on slavery or involuntary servitude that was far more humane than most other cultures of the time.

So what kind of slave could you beat to an inch of death? Because the Bible talks about those kinds of slaves.
 

CriticalThought

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Again it was a reality of the ancient world, but various passages in Deuteronomy, Ephesians and Colossians do give very specific warnings to slave masters against mistreating their slaves.

It should also be noted - slavery in ancient times generally wasn't against a particular race. It was usually a result of conquest or a matter of indentured servitude.

Just out of curiosity, are you ever going to address how the words "slave trader" mysteriously show up in newer translations of the Bible instead of "manstealer" a term which was used as a Biblical condemnation against abolitionists?
 

topshelf

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So if you were a Hebrew slave, then you had it pretty good. Only 7 years. Now what about every other kind of slave?

What about every other kind of slave? Other nationalities, except the Arabs, believed in a different God(s) so their rules for slavery were all different.
 

topshelf

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Just out of curiosity, are you ever going to address how the words "slave trader" mysteriously show up in newer translations of the Bible instead of "manstealer" a term which was used as a Biblical condemnation against abolitionists?

It's always best to get a parallel translation of KJV to Greek or in the OT, KJV to Hebrew. That way you can get a better idea of the author's intent - Greek and Hebrew don't always have a word to word direct translation into English.

There have been more modern translations that a lot of churches don't recognize because of some of the varying language that is used.
 

spud_meister

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Just out of curiosity, are you ever going to address how the words "slave trader" mysteriously show up in newer translations of the Bible instead of "manstealer" a term which was used as a Biblical condemnation against abolitionists?

Manstealer was the term used to describe a person who unjustly reduced a free man to slavery.

But as for the bible, slavery was accepted as a fact if life, the morality of it was not questioned. It was a societal norm.
 
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Hoplite

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A form of servitude was condoned, but it was a temporary thing, normally lasting only 7 years.

"Slavery" in the sense most people mean it and think of it, no.
If we have to think about how they meant it then for slavery, why cant we do it for everything else in the bible?
 

topshelf

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Who says he's any more right than the next guy?

You're essentially paying people to interpret for you.

You clearly don't understand the purpose of a commentary. It's written to provide context and it's intended as a reference material. Matthew Henry has been for almost 300 years now.
 

Panache

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A form of servitude was condoned, but it was a temporary thing, normally lasting only 7 years.

"Slavery" in the sense most people mean it and think of it, no.

Bible knowledge fail.

Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids.

45Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession.

46And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour. -Leviticus 25:44-46

Sounds like the Bible condones slavery, and not the happy sparkly 7 years kind, but rather the kind where you buy children and keep them till they die, or until they are bequeathed to your own children.

Maybe the Bible says that you should treat your slaves well though...

“If a man beats his male or female slave with a club and the slave dies as a result, the owner must be punished. 21 But if the slave recovers within a day or two, then the owner shall not be punished, since the slave is his property. -Exodus 21:7-11

Ok, maybe not, but the rules regarding Hebrew slaves were very humane, right?

“When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. 8 If she does not satisfy her owner, he must allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her." -Exodus 21:7-8

It is pretty obvious that this is not only slavery being condoned here, but sex slavery. If she doesn't satisfy her master, he can sell her off again, but if she does, he can just keep her around until the novelty wears off.

It is also interesting to note that folks become slaves be being sold off by their parents. At least in Rome, you had to commit a crime to be bonded into slavery.

Just so we don't think that these sorts of family values were limited to the Old Testament, here are a couple gems from the New Testament:

"Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ." -Ephesians 6:5

"Christians who are slaves should give their masters full respect so that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed. If your master is a Christian, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. You should work all the harder because you are helping another believer by your efforts. Teach these truths, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them." -1 Timothy 6:1-2
 
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