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Slave Bible From The 1800s Omitted Bible Passages That Could Incite Rebellion

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In the Slave Bible Passages that could have prompted rebellion were removed, And verses that reinforced the institution of slavery, were kept.

“Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ.” Ephesians 6:5

Slave Bible From The 1800s Omitted Bible Passages That Could Incite Rebellion

On display at Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., is a special exhibit centered on a rare Bible from the 1800s that was used by British missionaries to convert and educate slaves.

The Slave Bible, as it would become known, is a missionary book. It was originally published in London in 1807 on behalf of the Society for the Conversion of Negro Slaves, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of enslaved Africans toiling in Britain’s lucrative Caribbean colonies.

They used the Slave Bible to teach enslaved Africans how to read while at the same time introducing them to the Christian faith.

What’s notable about this Bible is not just its rarity, but its content, or rather the lack of content there in. The Bible excludes any portion of text that might inspire rebellion or liberation.

Its publishers deliberately removed portions of the biblical text, such as the exodus story, that could inspire hope for liberation. Instead, the publishers emphasized portions that justified and fortified the system of slavery that was so vital to the British Empire.

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Slave Bible From The 1800s Omitted Bible Passages That Could Incite Rebellion

Anthony Schmidt, associate curator of Bible and Religion in America at the museum, says the first instance of this abridged version titled, Parts of the Holy Bible, selected for the use of the Negro Slaves, in the British West-India Islands, was published in 1807.

“About 90 percent of the Old Testament is missing and 50 percent of the New Testament is missing,” Schmidt says. “Put Simply, there are 1,189 chapters in a standard protestant Bible. This Bible contains only 232.”

Schmidt says passages that could have prompted rebellion were removed, for example:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28

Slave Bible From The 1800s Omitted Bible Passages That Could Incite Rebellion

And verses that reinforced the institution of slavery, including “the most famous pro-slavery verse that many pro-slavery people would have cited,” says Schmidt, were kept.

“Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ.” Ephesians 6:5

Anthony Schmidt, associate curator of Bible and Religion in America at the museum, says the first instance of the abridged version of the Bible titled, Parts of the Holy Bible, selected for the use of the Negro Slaves, in the British West-India Islands, was published in 1807.

“It was intended for use among enslaved Africans in the British West Indies, which is modern day Caribbeans, so Jamaica, Barbados, Antigua,” he says.

Slave Bible From The 1800s Omitted Bible Passages That Could Incite Rebellion

The Bible is currently on loan from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee., and has been in the museum of the Bible since it opened in November 2017. The university says only three copies of this Bible are known to exist, and that the one on display in Washington is the only copy in the U.S.

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Sources: npr.org | museumofthebiblr.org | twitter.com

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