Articles Current Edition

<Previous Edition | Volume 24 Number 2 2007

Read the editorial in the current issue

Guest Editor: David Killingray


The Bible, Slavery and Onesimus

Margaret Killingray has taught at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity for the past 20 years.  She is also a Reader in the Diocese of Rochester , and writes Bible reading notes for the BRF and SU and also a weekly biblical email for the LICC which goes to several thousand subscribers.

Almost all the societies featured in the Bible practised some form of slavery. Understanding the background to the economic and social life of those societies, whether slavery, marriage or land ownership, can illuminate the practical and theological implications of the text. This article brings together some of the recent debates and conclusions, particularly about slavery in the New Testament with the focus on Paul's letter to Philemon.

Evangelicals, Slavery & the Slave Trade: From Whitefield to Wilberforce

John Coffey is Reader in Early Modern History at the University of Leicester . His books include Politics, Religion and the British Revolutions: The Mind of Samuel Rutherford (Cambridge University Press, 1997), Persecution and Toleration in Protestant England , 1558-1689 (Longman, 2000), and John Goodwin and the Puritan Revolution (2006).

Evangelical Christians were prominent in the campaign to bring about the end of the British slave trade in 1807. However, John Coffey here shows how, in the mid-eighteenth century, evangelical Christians on both sides of the Atlantic acquiesced in the slave trade and slavery. By the 1770s to 1780s their ideas underwent a dramatic change and it was evangelicals, mainly Quakers and a few Anglicans, who established the Committee to Effect the Abolition of the Slave Trade in 1787. Coffey shows how, over the next 20 years, with various set-backs, they took a dominant role in the first mass extra-parliamentary campaign in British history that successfully restricted the British slave trade and then brought in the Act to abolish it.

Britain , The Slave Trade and Slavery: An African Hermeneutic, 1787

David Killingray is Professor Emeritus of History, Goldsmiths College , University of London , where he taught for many years. He has written widely on African, Caribbean , British Imperial, and English local history. His most recent book, with Joel Edwards, is Black Voices: The shaping of our Christian experience (IVP, 2007).

Quobna Ottobah Cugoano's Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evils of Slavery was published in London in 1787, the first book by an Afro-British writer to condemn the slave trade as well as slavery itself. Cugoano was a former slave stolen from Africa . He was brought to Britain where he gained his freedom and became an evangelical Christian. His jeremiad against the brutalities of the slave business, part of the campaign against the slave trade, was firmly based on the Bible and also current ideas of natural rights and justice. This paper looks in detail at how Cugoano handled the Bible.




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