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Christianity in the Midst of Slavery

analytical Essay
1282 words
1282 words
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Christianity in the context of American slavery took on many faces and characteristics. As a religion, it was used as a tool of manipulation for slave masters to further justify the institution, and particularly assert authority over their slaves. In the slave community, Christianity was adapted in the slave community as a means to shape an identity and create a sense of dignity for an oppressed people. Christianity in the context of the slave community was a means to uplift and encourage the slaves, a way in which to advance the interests of slave-holders, and in some cases, a means used to justify freedom.
The black slaves in general held to a different form Christianity that was unbeknownst to traditional orthodox Christianity. As discussed in lecture on February 4, 2014, black slaves held to an interpretation of Christianity that placed emphasis on the Old Testament, and all of its hero’s and accomplishments. The slaves also reinterpreted Jesus Christ, figuring Him into the Old Testament context of an Old Testament King like King David, who achieved many victories upon this earth (Lecture 2/4/14). Due to the perversion of Christian teachings from slave master and their erroneous catechisms, the slaves reacted strongly against the New Testament and its teachings. In turn, the slaves would cling to the Old Testament, particularly due to the role that the Jews suffered in the midst of their captivity to the Egyptians in ancient times. (Covered in the Bible under the Old Testament books of Genesis and Exodus) The reality of God coming to the aid of His chosen people the Jews was a theme that encouraged and comforted the slaves, and they gladly adopted this similar idea of being God’s “chosen people.” Also, the slaves held to Old ...

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...es while on the plantation, on the fields and other common areas, exhibiting the Christian worldview in action. Rose William is curious case, she was a woman born into slavery, and gave her account of her time in slavery. She loved her family, and was almost sold away from them, until her father took the initiative and asked his master, Mr. Hawkins, to purchase his daughter. He was a slave breeder, and purchased her to her and her family’s delight. Mr. Hawkins would eventually force Rose Williams to breed children with a man that she loathed name Rufus. She would go on after the summation of the Civil War to leave Rufus and return with her parents until their passing. She worked as a cook for whites until she went blind.

Works Cited

Blassingame, John W. The Slave Community Plantation Life in the Antebellum South. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979. Print

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how christianity in the context of american slavery took on many faces and characteristics. it was used as a tool of manipulation for slave masters to further justify the institution, and assert authority over their slaves.
  • Explains that black slaves held to a different form of christianity that was unbeknownst to traditional orthodox christianity. the perversion of christian teachings from slave master and their erroneous catechisms encouraged and comforted them.
  • Analyzes how christianity was used as a meaningful and helpful outlet to reaffirm the humanity of slaves.
  • Explains that christianity would be a principal influence in conquering the fear of slaves, for their overseers and masters.
  • Explains that christian worship allowed for the slaves to feel engaged in community interaction, and this fit perfectly in the context of slave society.
  • Explains that religious services and recreational activities provided the slave with welcome rest from anxious toils, and hope for the better life.
  • Analyzes how the slaves created and signed hymns and spirituals, based on biblical lore, to express themselves in a hostile environment.
  • Explains that slaves would have to gather in secret places in order to worship, due to the desire of certain masters/ overseers wanting to keep them from worshipping.
  • Recounts how katherine and her maw and paw took them to another place to pray and sing. they sang lord i give myself away, tis all that i can do, and they nailed him to the cross.
  • Analyzes how mary reynolds was born to a slave mother and free black father. she was nursed alongside her master's daughter (sarah), was sexually abused by him, and was brought back to her family and plantation home.
  • Explains that religious hymns and spirituals reflected the reality that there was no separation from the religious and the secular in the slave community.
  • Explains that many of the slaves had no formal christian education, but still talked in regard to god and used references to him in their daily language.
  • Analyzes how rose williams was a woman born into slavery and gave her account of her time in slavery. she loved her family and was almost sold away until her father asked mr. hawkins to purchase her.
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