Boy With A Problem wrote:
Not exactly "blacks", but as I understand it, the bible very much condones slavery.
This is an area of much controversy in Christian scholarship, and I'm sure I won't settle it. But, it should be pointed out that the word translated most often as "slave" is much more accurately rendered "indentured servant." It was quite common for people to sell themselves into periodic labor in the ancient world, and this almost always had a time limit. The similarity between that and the slavery of the modern era (by which I mean the last 600-700 years) is quite different. The English word "slave" comes from "slav," and it stems from the treatment of slavic people, who were treated differently enough from traditional servitude that a new word had to be coined to describe it. In short, the ancient Greek word for slave and the modern English word for slave mean two different things.
I'm not blind to the fact that there are uncomfortable implications in the passages you quote, even in the context of indentured servitude. But please also note that an entire book of the Bible--Philemon--is devoted to pointing out why slavery should be ended. It's a letter from Paul to Philemon urging him to release Onesimus from his indentured servitude. It goes so far as to state flatly that even though Philemon has legal rights to treat Onesimus as property he should refrain from doing so and free him, treating min instead as a brother. This kind of servitude was a fact of life in the ancient world. Paul told people in servitude that they were legally obligated to obey those they had pledged servise to. But he told the "masters" (again--totally different context than the US version) that they should recognize the equality of their servants and free them. "There is neither male nor female, Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free. But all are equal in Christ Jesus."
As for the women keeping silnt thing, that's the most abused verse in the Bible in churches today, as far as I'm concerned. Both instances that you cite are written to churches in Greek cities (Corinth and Kusadasi). In these cities, regular city-wide assemblies were held which only men could attend. This wasn't church doctrine; it was local law. You have to look at those comments in the full context of the letters they're in. In a long list of things Paul is telling the Corinthian Christians they need to do, he says that women should keep silent in the assemblies. The Greek word there is NOT churches. It's assemblies. These are secular meetings of the Corinthians, at which it was illegal for women to speak. Paul is basically telling the Corinthians that they must still obey the laws of the land. This is clear when you look a few chapters back to the instructions Paul gives for what goes on in the actual meetings of the church. There, he gives instructions for women and men praying and prophesying in church. If he's telling women how to speak in that section (chapter 11 or 12, I think), then he can't very well expect silence a few paragraphs later. Those letters have to be read as a whole to be really understood. If you pick verses out of context, you can make them say whatever you want (which Christian scholars do all the time).
The letter to Timothy addresses a specific concern with a specific group of believers in Kusadasi at a specific time and place. There were women there who were teaching things that were incorrect (at least Paul thought so). His instructions to Timothy were for that moment, and should never have been understood as an edict for all time. Indeed, they are written in the present tense, and Paul makes it pretty clear in that letter that Timothy is dealing with a strange situation that will get corrected and then be over. Those instructions have a time limit on them.
Lots of nice, well-intentioned people will disagree with me on all that. And that's cool. But I think these are much misunderstood and misused verses. Certainly misunderstood.
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."