The Bible: How Can Modern People Revere a Book Which Condones Slavery?

 When a slaveowner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately, the owner shall be punished. 21 But if the slave survives a day or two, there is no punishment, for the slave is the owner’s property.

–Exodus 21:20

Any person who shall maliciously dismember or deprive a slave of life shall suffer such punishment as would be inflicted in case the like offence had been committed on a free white person, and on the like proof, except in case of insurrection by such slave, and unless such death should happen by accident in giving such slave moderate correction.

—Constitution of the State of Georgia, 1798

The topic of slavery is one that makes us uncomfortable, and yet it comes up time and time again in discussions about morality and the God of the Bible. We would do well—whether as a believer or atheist—to understand what the Bible actually says about the practice of slavery, rather than building our conclusions and positions on faulty arguments or apologetics. Slavery was indeed endorsed in the Old Testament and the New Testament did not condemn its practice. The Old Testament laws concerning slavery were not so different from those in the antebellum South, which should give us pause; we must remember the atrocities that transpired prior to the Civil War.

–Dr. Joshua Bowen, The Atheist Handbook to the Old Testament, Volume 1, p. 320

Dr. Bowen holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Near Eastern Studies from The Johns Hopkins University where he majored in Assyriology and minored in Hebrew Bible. In addition, he specializes in the Summerian language. He has been awarded the American Fullbright Scholarship as well as the German Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (D.A.A.D.) Scholarship. In addition Dr. Bowen holds a Bachelor of Science in Religion from Liberty University, a Master of Theology in the Old Testament from Capital Bible Seminary, and a Master of Arts in Near Eastern Studies from The John Hopkins University. Prior to entering academia, Joshua was a chaplain in the US Air Force. Once a fundamentalist Christian, he now identifies as an atheist.

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2 thoughts on “The Bible: How Can Modern People Revere a Book Which Condones Slavery?

  1. Most mystifying is how African Americans and other Africans who were enslaved by Muslims can embrace a religion or at least a set of scriptures that didn’t have a problem with their slavery.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Laws are only effective if those charged with enforcing them do their job. In both the examples given in Exodus and Georgia, who would bother to enforce those laws if an owner unlawfully killed his slave. And who would even report the incident. Another slave? And who would he or she report it to? They couldn’t just walk of the plantation and stroll over to the sheriff, who wouldn’t care anyway.

    Liked by 2 people

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