Hermeneutics and Slavery: Commentary.

Document Type

Popular Press

Publication Date



Slavery, United States, Biblical teachings


"Intra-church disagreements today do not come close to the inhumanity of such conflicts as the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide, or the genocide in Rwanda. But in the disagreement this article examines, Christian participants in American slavery partook of a horror equal with those, based on what they believed were the “plain” teachings of the Bible. To miss the lesson this tragedy implies is to risk the danger of fulfilling George Santayana’s aphorism: “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” What lesson should we learn? We may learn that all readers approach the Bible with a variety of presuppositions that are shaped by our prenatal and childhood experiences, our personalities, our interactions with families and friends, our education and by the media. With regard to hermeneutics, no two of us are perfectly aligned. So that while we must all adhere to some fundamental positions, and while agreement on these identifies us as God’s united people, it is both futile and harmful to the community to expect that everyone agree on the interpretation of all scriptural passages."

Journal Title

Adventist Review Online Edition

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Last Page


First Department

Theology and Christian Philosophy