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Select Parts of the Holy Bible for the use of the Negro Slaves in the British West-India Islands

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Slave bible
Full nameSelect Parts of the Holy Bible for the use of the Negro Slaves in the British West-India Islands
Complete Bible
Derived fromKing James Version 1611
Translation typeFormal equivalence
CopyrightPublic domain
The creation of heaven and earth. Of man in the image of god. The appointment of food. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Select Parts of the Holy Bible for the use of the Negro Slaves in the British West-India Islands, sometimes referred to as a slave bible, is an abbreviated version of the Bible specifically made for teaching a pro-slavery version of Christianity to enslaved people in the British West Indies.


It was produced in England in the early 19th century for use in the British West Indies. It had all "references to freedom and escape from slavery" excised, while passages encouraging obedience and submission were emphasized.[1] These references emphasizing loyalty and submission to the slave master were instructions handed down by Beilby Porteus (then Bishop of London), who stated: "prepare a short form of public prayer, together with select portions of scripture particularly those which relate of the slave duties toward the master."[2]

British missionaries used it in the education and conversion of the enslaved population. The editors included only 10 percent of the Old Testament and half of the New Testament. For example, among the excluded passages are Galatians 3:28 which states: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus". Exodus 21:16 and Deuteronomy 23:16-17 were also removed.[3]

The publishers of the slave bible thought these sections, such as the Exodus, the Book of Psalms, and the Book of Revelation, "could instill in slaves a dangerous hope for freedom and dreams of equality."[3] Passages like Ephesians 6:5, "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ," were retained.[4] The Museum of the Bible, during a 2018 exhibition called "The Slave Bible: Let the Story Be Told", exhibited an example from 1807. This bible was one of three copies of this version, and is owned by Fisk University. It was printed by Law and Gilbert of London, for the Society for the Conversion of Negro Slaves.[5]

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  1. ^ Draper, Robert (December 2018). "The Bible Hunters". National Geographic: 40–75.
  2. ^ "The "Slave Bible" is Not What You Think". The Revealer. June 3, 2020. Retrieved October 15, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Zehavi, Ben. "19th-cent. Slave Bible that removed Exodus story to repress hope goes on display". www.timesofisrael.com. Retrieved October 18, 2021.
  4. ^ Martin, Michel (December 9, 2018). "Slave Bible From The 1800s Omitted Key Passages That Could Incite Rebellion". NPR. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  5. ^ Medders, Brandy (December 3, 2018). "Fisk University Partners with the Museum of the Bible and the Smithsonian for Slave Bible Exhibition". Fisk University. Retrieved December 14, 2018.

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