Sydney Anglicans reports…
“Archbishop Glenn Davies says Kevin Rudd was ‘profoundly wrong’ in his comments about slavery, same-sex marriage and the Bible.
In [an] answer to a question from a Pastor on Monday night’s Q and A on ABCTV about how his beliefs on same sex marriage lined up with the Bible, Mr Rudd said “Well mate if I was going to have that view, the Bible also says that slavery is a natural condition.” He went on to outline his support for same sex marriage.
In a statement issued today and reported on ABC TV news and in Wednesday’s Australian, Dr Davies said “Kevin Rudd was profoundly wrong in his understanding of the Bible. He misquoted the Bible and attributed to the Bible something that Aristotle said (that slavery is a natural condition). The Bible never says that. The Bible sees slavery as the result of fallen and broken relationships in society and it is crystal clear in its condemnation of the slave trade.” (Reference: 1 Tim 1:10) ….”
1 Tim 1:8-11 says…
“…..8 We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9 We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me…..”
Bible researcher Michael D. Marlowe wrote in 2003…
“Sometimes 1 Timothy 1:10 is mentioned as one verse which might indicate that the Bible considers slavery to be sinful.
This misinterpretation was often put forth in abolitionist writings of the Civil-War Era. For example, in 1836 Angelina Grimke (a feminist abolitionist who was neither a scholar nor a believer in the Bible) wrote, “how can it be said Paul sanctioned slavery, when, as though to put this matter beyond all doubt, in that black catalogue of sins enumerated in his first epistle to Timothy, he mentions ‘menstealers,’ which word may be translated ‘slavedealers’?”
The verse lists ανδραποδισταις “menstealers” along with other ungodly and sinful persons (murderers, fornicators, sodomites, liars, etc.), and indeed this word is translated “slave traders” in the New International Version and in the New Living Translation.
The New International Reader’s Version (a revision of the NIV for children) even interprets it as, “people who buy and sell slaves.” This is in keeping with Grimke’s interpretation. But this is certainly not the meaning of the word.
Thayer’s Lexicon explains that the word means “one who steals the slaves of others and sells them” or “one who unjustly reduces free men to slavery.”
This crime was often committed in ancient times. Penalties for it are specified in the Mosaic Law (see Exodus 21:16 and Deuteronomy 24:7), and it is frequently mentioned by Greek writers as the crime of ανδραποδον.
In the ancient Roman code known as the Lex Fabia (third-second century B.C.) these slave-snatchers were called plagiarii, and so the word is translated thus in the Vulgate.
So ανδραποδισταις in 1 Timothy 1:10 does not refer to all slave traders, any more than the word πορνοις “whoremongers, fornicators” in the same verse could refer all men who have sexual relations with a woman. It refers to those who engage in an illegal activity, kidnapping of slaves, and not the legal slave-trade itself. For this reason, most Bible versions translate the word “kidnappers.”
Why have the translators of the NIV and the NLT used the words “slave traders” here, without even indicating the correct interpretation in a footnote?
One might expect the NIV Study Bible, at least, to indicate the meaning, but even in that copiously annotated edition of the NIV there is no explanatory note here.
We also observe that the recently-published English Standard Version has “enslavers” here, which is somewhat better than “slave-traders,” and it also has a note stating that the word means “those who take someone captive in order to sell him into slavery.”
But this translation and this note are also incorrect for two reasons: In ancient times those who were taken captive in war were often kept or sold as slaves, unless they were redeemed by the payment of a ransom, and this military custom was not considered to be ανδραποδον. It was considered to be a merciful alternative to the massacre of defeated enemies.
Also, the crime of ανδραποδον often involved the kidnapping of one who was already a slave, not the enslavement of one who had been free. If the translators were not satisfied with “kidnappers” because this word does not indicate the connection with the illegal slave trade, they might have rendered it “slave-kidnappers,” but “enslavers” is not the meaning of this word.
We suspect an apologetic purpose for these mistranslations. All of these versions were sponsored by evangelical publishers, and many evangelical apologists have used isolated misinterpretations of 1 Timothy 1:10 in support of their contention that the Bible does not really condone slavery after all.
But however well-meaning this may be, and however expedient it may be for apologists, it prevents people from really coming to terms with the world-view of the Biblical authors—a world-view which is very remote from modern egalitarian values and agendas.
None of this is to suggest that slavery is a good idea in the modern world. But it is a requirement of scholarly integrity, and of any true understanding of the Bible, that we should refrain from importing our own modern political and social values into the text.”