In this podcast, we’re wrapping up our discussion of comments made by Richard Dawkins in his book, Outgrowing God, Chapter 6 (regarding whether slavery is advocated in the Bible) by discussing the most commonly asked questions about slavery in the Bible.

The previous two podcasts (part one here and part two here) addressed the question, “Does the Bible Advocate Slavery?”

Do you have any questions, comments, or ideas for future episodes? Send us an email at askthemamabears@gmail.com.

Main Points Covered:

  • Dawkins’ main point is, “The Bible got slavery wrong, therefore the Bible is wrong.”
    • He only points out the problem, but doesn’t go into it, so it’s like a faith grenade, hoping that it’ll wreck someone’s faith just with the question.
  • Main questions regarding slavery:
    1. What are the main verses regarding slavery that people reference?
    2. What is the main argument against Christianity regarding slavery?
    3. Does condoning slavery mean that slavery is endorsed?
    4. What did slave mean in the Old Testament?
    5. Who could become a slave and why?
    6. What does it mean when it calls a slave “property”?
    7. What kind of protections did slaves have?
    8. Why didn’t God have New Testament Christians release all slaves?
  • We need to be aware of linguistic theft and linguistic baggage like slavery/slave, condone, etc. These words have multiple meanings, so when kids first hear a ‘buzz word’ they need to dig deeper and find out:
    1. What is the context?
    2. Does this mean the same in our language as it did in the original language?
    3. Are there multiple definitions to this word?

The following table shows a comparison of slave systems:

Old Testament

Roman

New World

Holiday

Yes

No

Yes

Enough food

Yes

No

No

Legal redress

Yes

No

No

Sexual protection

Yes

No

No

Kidnapped

No

Yes

Yes

Chains

No

Yes

Yes

Torture

No

Yes

Yes

Physical abuse

No

Yes

Yes

(Peter J. Williams, Does the Bible Support Slavery?, bethinking.org, 2015, lecture notes)

 

What to Talk About with Kids:

  • Hermeneutics skills: kids need to know how to find context, the meaning of words, understand the linguistic baggage/theft that may in happening/imported
  • Discuss words that have more than one meaning depending on context, such as love, destroyed, baby, etc.
  • Emphasize the two different meanings of “condone.”
  • Slavery/servanthood was a method that the poor could take care of themselves or family within that culture. Highlight Psalm 41:1, Deuteronomy 24:14 about how to treat others (especially the poor).
  • Movies to Watch:
    • Joseph and the Coat of Dreams (2000)
    • Harriet (2019)
  • Books to Read:
    • Roman Diary series (Richard Platt)
    • Tirzah (Lucille Travis)

Unfamiliar Vocab:

  • Avalanche tactic
  • Descriptive vs Prescriptive
  • Hermeneutics
  • Bondservant
  • Kinsman redeemer
  • Chattel slavery
  • Pederasty
  • Linguistic baggage

Quotable Quotes:

To own someone’s work is different than to own their identity. - Hillary Ferrer Click To Tweet What I love about (having your kids pay attention to the way in which words are used) is that it starts getting your kids thinking critically and actively listening…It’s a way to help your kids think better. - Amy Davison Click To Tweet When your kids start rolling their eyes, you’re doing something right! - Hillary Ferrer Click To Tweet When we’re looking at Scripture, our focus shouldn’t be just on the law, but on the other commandments and the design for humanity, as well. We need that whole picture concept. - Amy Davison Click To Tweet

Resources Mentioned:

Outgrowing God by Richard Dawkins, Amazon

Code of Hammurabi

Paul Copan, Is God a Moral Monster (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996)

Bethinking (ministry): bethinking.org

Peter Garnsey, Ideas of Slavery from Aristotle to Augustine

Muhammad A Dandamayev, Slavery (OT), in Anchor Bible Dictionary (available on Logos Bible Software)

Lex Fufia Caninia and Lex Aelia Sentia

Peter J. Williams, Does the Bible Support Slavery? – Lecture from Lanier Theological Library on 30th October 2015

Bible Passages Mentioned:

  • Genesis 11:5-7
  • Exodus 21:16 – Slave trading (selling and owning) wasn’t allowed and was punished by death. Considered a violation of the image of God and the dignity of man.
  • Exodus 21:20, 21:26-27; Leviticus 19:20-21, 29 – Protection for slaves existed (see the table above).
  • Deuteronomy 24:14
  • Psalm 41:1
  • Leviticus 19: 33-36
  • Deuteronomy 23:15 – Fugitive slaves are to be protected.
  • Exodus 21:21
  • Exodus 16:16
  • Leviticus 25
  • Deuteronomy 15:12–18; Matthew 19:8 – Why slavery may have been allowed.

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