Richard A. Burridge Dean of King’s College, London

by
02 November 2006

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I read Rough Crossings by Simon Schama because I was in Charlestolooking at the debate between being biblical and inclusive in relation tapartheid and other current issues, and I wanted to know more about the slavtrade. I hadnt realised that slavery had been debated for 50 years before thabolition of slavery in 1807. It was a big issue in the American Civil War, bumany of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence were slave-owner

Schama tells the story in a powerful way, and its a gripping tale ointrigue, war, and betrayal. Britain promised freedom to slaves for loyaltduring the war, and kept this promise, giving them safe conduct out, angranting them land. Schama also includes an account of how John Clarksoeventually settled liberated slaves in Sierra Leone, and built Freetown.

I found it helpful background reading for a book that Im writing on the usof the Bible in ethics. But theres practically no mention of the use of thBible in Schama. In debates of the time, to be biblical was to be on the sidof the slave-owners.

In What the Bible Really Teaches, Keith Ward, who describes himselas a born-again Christian, relates the Bible to current debates. He goethrough the traditional conservative doctrines of the atonement, the crossresurrection, judgement, heaven and hell, and the Second Coming. He argues thathe traditional conservative responses to these issues are too narrow, and thathe Bible is much richer than the conservative interpretation.

Simon Schama, Rough Crossings, BBC Books, 8.99CT Booksh 8.10), 0-563-49365-8; Keith WardWhat the Bible Really Teaches, SPCK, 9.99CT Booksh 9), 0-281-05680<>

 

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