Rare 'Slave Bible' on Display at the Museum of the Bible

Ron Cogswell is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Museum of the Bible brings about dark past regarding use of religion during the colonial days

The Museum of the Bible unveiled an unusual version of the Bible, which differs significantly from other variants of the holy scripture. The exhibit titled The Slave Bible: Let the Story be Told, is the aim of the museum to bring attention to the darker days of colonialism. British missionaries used this version of the Holy Scripture when they had to work with African slaves in the Caribbean. After this Bible got published in 1807, they used it to educate and convert African slaves to Christianity. At the same time, they used this as an opportunity to ensure the slaves continue to obey their orders.

In this bible, visitors won’t find half of the contents in the New Testament, and approximately 90 percent of the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible. The missionaries believed that omitting various portions of the Holy Scripture would prevent the slaves from rebelling or hoping to live a better life.

They understood it was necessary to remove the book of Revelation and Exodus from Egypt for this variant. For instance, Exodus from Egypt talks about the liberation of the Israelites, while Revelation speaks about how God makes everything okay.

The Director of Museum Curatorial, Seth Pollinger, commented that this Bible had a specific purpose of keeping the people enslaved. However, he believes this antique has a considerable role to play, as it allows the society to question its contents and become better individuals.

The Museum of the Bible’s curator, Anthony Schmidt, understands the Society for the Conversion of Negro Slaves, Beilby Porteus, made shocking statements. Despite the Anglican Bishop of London’s stance to fight for the freedom of the slaves, his views were racist.

The museum will be putting this artifact on display until April 2019, giving visitors a unique opportunity to study its texts. Nashville’s Fisk University was willing to loan their antique to the institution. Only three copies of this Bible exist at the moment, out of which two are available at Great Britain’s universities.

As it has almost been 400 years since African slaves entered the New World, the museum believed it was appropriate to put this version of the holy scripture on display. The museum also plans to hold discussions and conferences on this version of the Bible, to explore it from all aspects and perspectives.

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