An Observation on the God of the Bible and Slavery

God meme "kills thousands of Egyptian children in order to free his people *from* slavery (Exod 12:29-30) immediately instructs his people how to *make their own slaves* (Exod 21:2-7; Lev 25:44-46)"

Has anyone ever noticed that in the Bible, God slaughters thousands of Egyptian children in order to free his people from slavery (Exod 12:29-30), BUT then immediately instructs his people on how to make slaves of their own (Exod. 21:2-7; Lev. 25:44-46)?

Exodus 12:29-30

“At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the prisoner who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock. (30) Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his officials and all the Egyptians; and there was a loud cry in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.” (NRSV)

Exodus 21:2-7

“When you buy a male Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, but in the seventh he shall go out a free person, without debt. (3) If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. (4) If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s and he shall go out alone. (5) But if the slave declares, “I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out a free person,” (6) then his master shall bring him before God. He shall be brought to the door or the doorpost; and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him for life. (7) When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do…” (NRSV)

Lev. 25:44-46

“As for the male and female slaves whom you may have, it is from the nations around you that you may acquire male and female slaves. (45) You may also acquire them from among the aliens residing with you, and from their families that are with you, who have been born in your land; and they may be your property. (46) You may keep them as a possession for your children after you, for them to inherit as property. These you may treat as slaves, but as for your fellow Israelites, no one shall rule over the other with harshness.”

So God is OK with slavery, as long as they are foreigners.

[And in the NT, slaves are commanded to continue to obey their masters.]

Col. 3:22

“Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything, not only while being watched and in order to please them, but wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord.” (NRSV)

1 Pet. 2:18

“Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.” (NIV)

Eph. 6:5

“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ” (NRSV)

So, tell me again how God is the objective moral foundation for all time?

(And please don’t claim “prooftexting” or “out of context”: these verses mean exactly what they say, and they mean the very same thing in their fuller context. Besides, in what context would the supreme God of the universe ever say that it’s OK to own other people as property?)

(And quick, someone tell me how I am not reading this properly because I do not “possess” the seer stone Holy Spirit. Please tell me that this “revealed Scripture” doesn’t really mean what it says.)

(And before you make the “slavery was totally different back then” argument, read here.)

I welcome comments.

steve kolowich at inside higher ed: on evaluating the digital humanities

Steve Kolowich has published an excellent piece entitled, “The Promotion That Matters,” on evaluating the Digital Humanities in Inside Higher Ed.

In it, he discusses the growing problem of evaluating scholarship within the Digital Humanities. The article is worth a read. Here are my initial comments:

The humanities have finally caught up to business, law, science, and medicine and have discovered methods both to digitize classical works in the Humanities, as well as employ the latest technologies and methodologies to generate new knowledge within the Humanities.

Of course, two persistent problems remain for new disciplines (and methods within disciplines):

  1. There are those who do not appreciate (or understand) the new technology and/or discipline. People always fear (or are at least skeptical of) that which they do not understand. This goes especially for established scholars who used traditional methods (read: typewriters and bound dictionaries) to generate their research. While these scholars are always looking for new and better ways to do their research, they are not often the first adopters of new technologies, and are therefore wary of them at the beginning. Until established scholars have had enough time to review research generated by new digital methods and deem it credible, they will rightly be skeptical of what the young digital humanists are doing.
  2. There is no accepted way to evaluate the research generated by scholars in the Digital Humanities. Since you cannot manage what you cannot measure, and since you cannot promote what you cannot manage, it is essential that those scholars who do understand the Digital Humanities make themselves available to serve on the rank, tenure, and promotion committees for scholars at neighboring institutions. In fact, there may be a small cottage opportunity for those willing to establish a Digital Humanities evaluation group within the academy.

One other thing: even if “Digital Humanities” fades as an independent discipline (which I believe it will), those humanists hired into established departments need peers with knowledge of the new technologies and methodologies to evaluate their research. As a digital humanist hired into a traditional department within the Humanities (Classics and Religious Studies), it is understandably difficult to find a classical philologist or medieval religious historian who understands virtual reality and 3D digital reconstruction of archaeological remains. For this reason, many universities like UCLA (Center for Digital Humanities) and Iowa (Digital Studio for Public Humanities) have established centers for the Digital Humanities where scholars trained in both traditional Humanities disciplines and new digital approaches to the Humanities research can assist scholars with Digital Humanities research.

Give the article a read.

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