Credit: University of Glasgow

UofG’s rare first edition Slave Bible loaned to Dutch exhibition

By Andrew Taylor

One of only three surviving copies in the world, the University of Glasgow loans “Slave Bible” to a Dutch exhibition on Gospel music.

A rare copy of the Slave Bible from the University of Glasgow is going to the Netherlands for display. It will be loaned to the Museum Catharijneconvent as part of the art exhibition “Gospel: Journey of Spirit and Hope”, until January 2023. The book is fully titled “Select parts of the Holy Bible for the use of the Negro Slaves in the British West-India Islands” – and was written in 1807 with the aim of furthering oppression and conformity among enslaved people.

The Slave Bible was published in London by pro-slavery missionaries, and Glasgow’s copy is one of three known remaining first-editions in the world, with another copy within the U.K., and another at Fisk University, Tennessee. The University of Glasgow received its copy from insurance broker William Euing in 1874. This was bequeathed to the University as part of his will, along with over 10,000 other books, including a large number of different versions of the Bible.

This version begins the same as the King James Bible, with Genesis: “The creation of heaven and earth” – however, many other sections of the Bible are omitted. The Slave Bible features segments from the Bible which promotes the use of slavery, and is edited with the intention of oppression, and greater slave conformity. The original King James Bible features over 1,189 chapters, however this version contains merely 232. The Slave Bible only features passages which suit the agenda of censoring equality, excludes passages which promote freedom and mercy, and ignores any context around the mention of slavery within the Bible.

This Slave Bible has previously appeared as part of the 2019 exhibition “Call and Response; the University of Glasgow and Slavery” in the University Memorial Chapel. In this display, the University publicly condemned the hypocrisy in its actions by profiting from the slave trade, despite their then-present public stance against it. Its latest appearance at the Museum Catharijneconvent will be part of educating people from around the world the history of pro-slavery missionaries’ attempt to convert and educate slaves.


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