Jews and Slavery in Antebellum America: What Does the Bible Say? Why Does It Matter?
Greenspoon, Leonard J.
In early January 1861, several religious leaders throughout the United States took to their pulpits to consider whether slavery, as practiced in the South, was or was not supported by the Bible. Among this largely Protestant group there were a few rabbis, some of whom found biblical support for slavery, with others condemning it based on biblical teachings. In my presentation, I will summarize and analyze selected antebellum sermons within several contexts: Jewish interpretive/exegetical traditions, other (Christian) sermons delivered on the same topic, American biblical interpretation through the mid-nineteenth century, and the lasting effects and relevance of these sermons up to and including today. I invite readers to reflect on other circumstances in which the (mis)interpretation/application of the Bible has played a role in the consideration and determination of attitudes toward race.
Rabbi Myer and Dorothy Kripke Center, Creighton University
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