Religious Studies | The Bible and Slavery
R430 | 20841 | Harrill


How did ancient Jews and Christians think about slaves? What does
the Bible say about slavery? How has the Bible been used both to
support and to condemn modern legal slavery? These important
interpretive questions are the reason for this course, which is also
based on the instructor's forthcoming book. We will examine first
the Hebrew Bible, its infamous "Curse of Ham," and the Pentateuchal
slave laws. Then, we will will turn to the New Testament and examine
the use of slaves in the parables of Jesus and the references to
slaves in the letters of the Apostle Paul. The history of
interpretation is an important part of our study, so we will end by
investigating the "battle for the Bible" in the American slave
controversy. Importantly, the topic of the course raises
methodological implications beyond its case study of slavery.
Slavery and its interpretive issues raise directly the problem of
whether biblical criticism can settle Christian moral debate,
specially over family values. Requirements: midterm and a final
exam. A short essay and a term research paper (15-page).