Understanding Slavery in the Old Testament—and Today (Myrto Theocharous)

Critics of Christianity, and even believers, point to the instances of slavery in the Old Testament as evidence of a cruel or careless God. However, a view of the ancient systems of slavery and the Torah’s treatment of the oppressed reveals a very different picture. Far from being opposed to human dignity, the Hebrew Bible strives to humanize everyone, including those at the margins of society.

In this episode, Dr. Myrto Theocharous and Dr. Dru Johnson discuss slavery and care for the oppressed in the Hebrew Bible. They note how the Torah insists on protection and dignity for slaves to prevent exploitation. They identify how slavery in the Old Testament differs from more recent versions and how we should understand our own cultural experiences when approaching the text. From there, we can begin to understand other related issues, such as how Christians should respond to systems of human trafficking and how Deuteronomy teaches people to care for the vulnerable even if we haven’t experienced their circumstances ourselves.

Show notes:

  • 0:00 A God against slavery
  • 4:02 Protections and humanization for slaves in the Torah
  • 7:27 Using the metaphor of slavery today
  • 10:55 Human trafficking and caring for the vulnerable
  • 16:26 Learning care for the oppressed without experiencing oppression
  • 21:08 A view of the American evangelical church

Learn more about Dr. Theocharous.

Show notes by Micah Long.

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Credits for the music TBM podcast: hebraicthought.org/credits.