To read entire presentation click here: Oppression and Slavery in the Ancient Near East and the Bible by Stephen Hague
At our recent Fall Seminar (see resources at FTS website[coming soon]) on oppression and slavery at the Seminary, I presented the introductory thoughts on the subject of slavery in the ancient world and the Bible.
Slavery and oppression have been a ubiquitous part of the human experience practically since the beginning. The question I ask is simple: how does the biblical gospel address this? It is my thesis that if the Bible is used as a source for the justification of human enslavement and oppression, then if we honestly and carefully examine this it rather actually contains the seeds of its own undoing. That is, in contrast to those who claim that the Bible justifies human enslavement (and the forms we had in Europe and America), I suggest that the Bible and its laws contain the very ideas that eventually brought about the outlawing of slavery in most parts of the world today.
At the seminar, we covered the three major historical periods of human slavery that have logical connections between them: in Part I, I discussed briefly some of the A.N.E. and biblical context as background for considering the modern Atlantic slave trade (that only became illegal only in the nineteenth century). In Part II, other presenters addressed the Christian role in fighting to outlaw that trade and human enslavement in England and America. Both subjects set the stage to consider in Part III the grim realities of human oppression, trafficking, and slavery today that continue relentlessly in our own back-yards.