About the Exhibit
The Slave Bible, as it would become known, is a missionary book. It was originally published in London in 1807 on behalf of the Society for the Conversion of Negro Slaves, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of enslaved Africans toiling in Britain’s lucrative Caribbean colonies. They used the Slave Bible to teach enslaved Africans how to read while at the same time introducing them to the Christian faith. Unlike other missionary Bibles, however, the Slave Bible contained only “select parts” of the biblical text. Its publishers deliberately removed portions of the biblical text, such as the exodus story, that could inspire hope for liberation. Instead, the publishers emphasized portions that justified and fortified the system of slavery that was so vital to the British Empire.
This unique artifact-in-focus exhibition, The Slave Bible: Let the Story Be Told, is presented by Museum of the Bible with the cooperation of Fisk University and the Center for the Study of African American Religious Life at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Drawing upon new research into its origins and use among enslaved Africans in the Caribbean, this exhibition tells a story of how time and place shape the way people understand and use the Bible.
You will also have an opportunity to join the ongoing conversation about the Slave Bible in the exhibition’s response area. The exhibition grapples with this rare artifact’s implications for our understanding of the Bible’s role in slavery and the struggle for freedom.