The Slave Bible

by DanWolgemuth on February 26, 2019

It was my final stop on a day of stops. The Museum of the Bible had been a profoundly impactful and inspirational experience… but the most powerful was yet to come.

All six floors of the Museum are packed with remarkable artifacts and inspirational stories, but the most convicting was yet to come.

It was on the ground floor that I felt rocked to the core. One floor below the entrance are exhibits on loan to the Museum. The one I experienced is on loan from Fisk University in Nashville.

In 1807, in London, a Bible was produced and published. Specifically, the Slave Bible.

“It was originally published 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.”

But this Bible was a cruel joke. A combination to a lock with some of the numbers missing. Those who constructed the Bible excluded significant portions of scripture. Namely, anything that had to do with the liberation of God’s people from Egypt as recorded in the Book of Exodus.

Any and every passage that dealt with freedom or a release from bondage was summarily abandoned. Words of hope were removed.

The damagingly abridged version of God’s word moves from the Creation narrative to the story of Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers.

Over time, bold and Godly preachers made their way to plantations to orally communicate what had been left out of the Slave Bible. Songs were written to fill in the blanks. Negro Spirituals carried the theology of suffering and hope. And soon, the power of the full Gospel resonated in its entirety.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28 had been abandoned to the cutting room floor in London in 1807. But it lives on. It is true and convicting.

Neither slave nor free.

This is our message, our calling and our destiny to live out. As followers of Jesus in 2019 it is for us to denounce and proclaim. To condemn any and all manipulation of God and His Word, while shining a clear and unfading light on Jesus.

Jesus… who stepped across racial and gender barriers to bring clarity to the depth and breath of God’s love.

A temporary exhibit has become a permanent reminder. God help us. God forgive us. God redeem and reconcile us. In the name of Jesus. For the cause of Christ.

Together. As the bride of Christ. Adorned with color and culture from every tribe, tongue and nation.

From end to end… the Bible is God’s incredible love story. Nothing less.

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