Debunking Lies About the Bible (Part 4): Slavery in the Old Testament
On June 28, 2006, during his keynote address at the liberal Call to Renewal “Building a Covenant for a New America” conference sponsored by the Sojourners in Washington, D.C., President Obama presented what was later derisively dubbed by many as his “America is no longer a Christian nation” speech. On this same occasion, what many people either failed to notice or mention was the president’s mean-spirited attack upon the Bible. About two-thirds of the way into a speech that was short on subtlety (and even shorter on factuality), President Obama went off on a harangue of biblical proportions. He began by asking, “Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy?”
“Should we go with Leviticus,” President Obama scornfully continued, “Which suggests that slavery is okay?” And then, he proceeded to contemptuously rattle off a litany of the usual, oft-misunderstood Old Testament passages, including an appallingly inaccurate claim that the Bible “suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith.” (See Part One in this series for a thorough rebuttal of that statement.)
“Let’s read our Bibles. Folks haven’t been reading their Bibles,” the President scolded his audience with a palpable air of condescension in his voice and a devilish smirk just begging to be wiped off his face. Despite his extremely dubious credentials as a Bible scholar, he never showed even the slightest smidgen of shame as he maliciously berated God’s word.
President Obama also ignited another firestorm when he rehashed this bias-laced bilge as recently as Feb. 5, 2015 at the National Prayer Breakfast. On this occasion, many were understandably insulted by the POTUS when he again mounted his heretical “high horse” and blasted believers with this rhetorical red herring: “Slavery and Jim Crow all too often was [sic] justified in the name of Christ.”
Actually, there are several of us who have been reading our Bibles; we just haven’t been misreading it the way that our “progressive” Theologian-in-Chief ostensibly does. In evaluating this deliberate distortion of the Bible, James Dobson noted that Obama was “dragging biblical understanding through the gutter.” But the president is unfortunately not alone when it comes to disdainfully looking down his nose at Christians as he makes such deplorable denunciations and outrageous obfuscations regarding the Bible’s teachings on slavery. A little more history and a lot less histrionics would go a long way in portraying a more accurate biblical picture. The same ubiquitous untruths have been propagated by many of the usual suspects. Savage Love columnist Dan Savage, CNN Tonight anchor Don Lemon, the late Christopher Hitchens, and HBO host Bill Maher each represent just a few of the chief culprits who are always extremely eager to present their sharp-tongued appraisals of the Bible.
Besides those who have made a career out of attacking the Bible, there is also a cadre of amateur armchair theologians, gay apologists, atheists, agnostics, and your run-of-the-mill angry, hostile types who surreptitiously prowl and creep around on the internet comment threads, chat rooms, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, posting the same old, worn out Bible-bashing bunk from the safe seclusion of some shadowy location. Armed with nothing more than the “copy and paste” function on their computers or some other technological device, these manipulative minions furiously spew their hateful scripture twisting notions unabated. If more people studied and made a concerted effort to understand their Bibles, it wouldn’t be so bad, but since that’s not often the case, many people are being misled and receiving false validation for their immoral lifestyle choices. Our society has apparently reached the very conclusion of the Apostle Paul’s wrenching description of the downward moral spiral of a culture that rejects God and not only does “such things [that] deserve death,” but also “approve[s]of those” who engage in such wanton depravity (Rom. 1:32). Ironically and sadly, as certain individuals engage in their ill-intentioned critiques of the Scriptural teachings on slavery, they unfortunately fail to realize that they themselves are, in fact, enslaved by their own corrupt passions, selfish desires, and sinful inclinations (Titus 3:3-7). The good news, however, is that God persistently and graciously extends the key of faith by which they may obtain their release from such an unnecessary bondage (Gal. 3:23). Therefore, perhaps a little biblical clarity on the emotionally-charged subject of slavery would be of considerable instructional and redemptive value. We can certainly hope so.
The actual Hebrew term in the Old Testament, which newer translations of the Bible typically render as “slave,” is `ebed, and in some biblical passages, that is the best translation. However, the biblical citations and every lexicon or expository dictionary of biblical language which I have ever come across indicate that in the vast majority of instances, the literary context of this Hebrew word more commonly conveys the idea of an indentured servant/bondservant. The nation of Israel as a whole was even occasionally referred to as an `ebed with regards to its unique, servant-like relationship with Yahweh (Isa. 44:21). In pursuit of greater accuracy – except when quoting a specific Bible verse(s) –, the terms “bondservant,” “indentured servant” or “servant” will henceforth be heavily utilized throughout this chapter (as warranted) during our careful examination of the pertinent references to slavery in the Old Testament.
Inevitably, the subject of slavery will come up whenever a Christian begins to cite biblical passages that prohibit homosexuality and same-sex “marriage.” Some like to claim that the Bible is a book which upholds and supports the evil institution of slavery. Consequently, they ask, “Why should we listen to or believe what the Bible says about the subject of homosexuality especially since it is an inherently slave-supporting document that is not worthy of our respect or obedience? Or how can anyone believe in the accuracy of the Bible since it got the subject of slavery so glaringly wrong?” However, these sly insinuations merely beg the real question regarding whether or not the Bible actually does endorse slavery. So, is it true that the God of the Bible really sanctions slavery? I certainly don’t believe so, unless a person with pernicious intent selectively dissects out a few verses from among the numerous passages that pertain to slavery/indentured servitude in the Old and New Testaments. As the old adage goes, a text without a context is a pretext. For this and several other reasons, conservative scholars adamantly disagree with the liberal assessment that the Bible authorizes slavery.
In the Bible, we find what could be called incremental revelation, meaning that God works with individuals/nations (First with the nation of Israel and later with Christians and the Church) to move them from their current socio-spiritual state towards the divine ideal that God ultimately intends for them. It’s what Paul Copan, professor at Palm Beach Atlantic University, refers to as “redemptive movement.” In the same way that no one expects a brand new Christian to be as knowledgeable, mature, spiritual, discerning, or established in their faith as a long-time Christian, so too God worked very patiently with the nation of Israel in an intentional effort to gradually extricate them from the godless cultural norms of their day. This included the degrading practice of slavery. As we go back to the time when Israel was established as a nation, following their nearly 430 year exile in Egypt (Ex. 12:40), slavery was a brutal, rampant, and unregulated institution practiced throughout many parts of the world. So, in the Bible, we have some of the first ever regulations that provide the people of Israel with limitations that will eventually lead to the elimination of slavery (progressing from limitation to elimination). As we shall see, the first step in the Old Testament was to improve living standards by greatly mitigating many of the harsh realities of slavery, and then in the New Testament, it was more clearly revealed that any type of human subjugation was certainly not in accordance with God’s will for his people. All of the necessary seeds for slavery’s undoing were planted in the rich “soil” of God’s Word, and the Mosaic Law began the long and arduous process of moving God’s people away from their dependence upon this commercial system of oppression altogether. This makes perfect sense, especially since the book of Exodus teaches us that God is the consummate emancipator who rescued Israel from their brutal exile in Egypt. In fact, during their captivity the Bible describes how God felt their anguish, heard their cries, and eventually delivered them (Exodus 3:5, 7, 8, 10). The abolitionists of the 18th and 19th Centuries, most of whom were Christian, considered this fact alone to be a direct theological repudiation of slavery(The Abolitionist Movement will be discussed in greater detail in the next column on slavery in the New Testament).
Some may ask, “Why didn’t God just immediately and explicitly end all forms of slavery outright?” We must understand that it was a tenuous situation at best for Moses as he was given the monumental task of leading an unruly nation comprised of an estimated two million people. It takes considerable time to transform an entire nation or culture. This is even more true when we’re talking about an institution as deeply entrenched (socially and economically) as was slavery. In other words, the speed of such a process is guided, in part, by the people that God is working with. And the Israelites, just like most people, were constantly challenging the authority of both Moses and God and repeatedly threatening rebellion. As anyone in a leadership role understands, people can only be pushed so far and so fast before one begins to undermine the very objectives that they are trying to achieve. Like raising children, if we unrealistically expect too much of them, then they will undoubtedly become exasperated (Eph. 6:4). The situation is quite similar, and in many respects much more complicated, when we’re dealing with adults who are “set in their ways.” Furthermore, for those who flippantly state that God should have instantly terminated slavery, they never seem to think about how such a lofty goal would be practically and fully attained. Since there were already two death penalty provisions outlawing slavery (Ex. 21:16, Deut. 24:7), the only remaining options at God’s disposal when it comes to the complete and immediate eradication of slavery would require either the termination of free will or the imposition a divine death penalty upon any incorrigible violators (i.e.: creating automatons or death by lightning bolt). Those who attack the validity of the Bible would obviously be opposed to God implementing either of these coercive, strong-arm tactics. On the one hand, the skeptics complain about the fact that God did not instantly terminate slavery, and, on the other hand, they would likewise protest if God were to employ overwhelming force or instantaneous punitive measures to impose his moral standards upon humanity. Unfortunately, for critics like this, there is seemingly nothing that God could ever do to please them.
The slavery described in the Old Testament is not the same as was practiced in America during the 19th Century and earlier. Ex. 21:16 and Deut. 24:7 strongly rule out human trafficking (the kidnapping and selling of people into slavery) as was done in America’s past when Africans were forcibly abducted from their homes/families and brutalized as if they were chattel property. Again, the OT prescribed the death penalty for anyone who ever participated in such dehumanizing activity (Ex. 21:16). (If you remember nothing else, let Ex. 21:16 and Deut. 24:7 be the main takeaways from this column.) Very clearly, Israel was strictly forbidden from mobilizing armed incursions into other countries with the express purpose of acquiring slaves. As a matter of fact, the only times that Israel was ever permitted to go to war were: 1. When they entered the Promised Land and dislodged its indigenous inhabitants, which was specifically restricted to a limited place and time (See Part 7 for a fuller discussion on the reasons that precipitated the divine eviction of the Canaanites, Amorites and other people groups which originally resided in the land) and 2. When invaded by an aggressor nation (for the express purposes of self-defense and national security). Therefore, the slave trade was, for all intents and purposes, absolutely unauthorized.
The only three permitted forms of “slavery” in the Old Testament involved voluntary indentured servitude, criminal punishment for unlawful conduct (theft – Ex. 22:3; debt default – 2 Ki. 4:1), and the taking of foreign war captives. As for indentured servitude, the arrangement was based upon a reciprocal contract entered into willingly by both parties which outlined certain conditions and compensation that only remained in effect for a specified period of six years (Ex. 21:2; Deut. 15:12). Also, during the Year of Jubilee (every fiftieth year), all Jewish bondservants were set free (Lev. 25, 27). Any extensions of this contractual agreement were also at the sole discretion of the servant in question (Ex. 21:4-6).
The actual permanent slavery of fellow Hebrews was expressly prohibited in any and all situations. As God unequivocally stated in Leviticus 25:42, “The Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must NOT be sold as slaves.” It should be further noted that Lev. 25:39-40, 43 also dictated the fair and kind treatment of any Hebrew indentured servants by stating the following: “If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and sell themselves to you, do not make them work as slaves. They are to be treated as hired workers or temporary residents among you … Do not rule over them ruthlessly.” And when a servant’s time of employment reached a conclusion, the “master” was required to generously supply them with abundant provisions (flocks, wheat, and wine) as a reward for their many years of committed and faithful service (Deut. 15:13-15). One could very accurately say that they were deservingly given “parting gifts.”
In a world without welfare, disability, unemployment, workman’s compensation payments, job training programs, bankruptcy protection, or other similar societal “safety nets,” this was the best available option for someone who found themselves in a dire, desperate financial predicament. This type of arrangement enabled individuals to avoid a life of destitution, prostitution, begging, or even death as the result of poverty-related illnesses or malnutrition. Indentured servitude was therefore a mutually beneficial contract whereby the more well-to-do land/livestock owners reaped the benefits of their servants’ labors, and the poor were aided in their survival through the compensation and lodging that they received for their work. Moreover, it was a system based on economic realities rather than racial inequalities. Unlike our current welfare system which rewards laziness, fosters an entitlement attitude and undermines the work ethic, this arrangement allowed the servant to remain a valuable contributor to society and the wealthy landowner to be of assistance to those in need.
It should also be underscored that in the Mosaic Law, God also issued various directives that, if followed, were designed to curtail poverty and prevent someone from ever having to consider voluntary servitude. As Moses declared: “There should be no poor among you, for in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today”(Deut. 15:4-5). These poverty preventative measures included: 1. Do not be greedy and selfish, but give generously to the poor (Deut. 15:7-8); 2. Every seventh year creditors were to forgive their debtors (Duet. 15:1-2); 3. Every seventh year of the planting cycle, the land was to lie fallow for the poor among them to harvest what grew naturally on its own (Ex. 23; Lev. 25); 4. The margins around their fields were to always remain unharvested and they were to leave the gleanings from the vineyards/olive trees for the needy so that they would not be deprived of food (Lev. 19:9-10; Deut. 24:19-22); 5. The poor were exempted from interest payments (Lev. 25); and 6. Every third year, the Levitical tithe was dedicated to the poor (Deut. 14:28-29, 26:12). In short, Israel was required to remember the harsh conditions of her own slavery in Egypt so that they would never abuse the foreigner, the poor, or the downtrodden among them. These regulations represented the earliest and best possible form of social welfare known to Antiquity.
The second allowable form of “slavery” in ancient Israel was related to criminal conduct. As James D. Agresti states in a May 2, 2012 American Thinker article, “A person caught stealing was required to make restitution to the victim, and if he could not, he was sold and the money given to the victim, as detailed in Exodus: ‘A thief must certainly make restitution, but if he has nothing, he must be sold to pay for his theft’ (Ex. 22:3). This regulation certainly shares some similarities with our modern penal codes, in which criminals are sometimes sentenced to ‘imprisonment with hard labor.’” Even in such cases, after paying their debt to society, the lawbreaker could eventually earn back his freedom, meaning that the punishment was not necessarily for life.
Third, as for war captives, this too was permitted since it was comparatively superior to the alternative options. There were basically three possibilities available for those captured in battle: 1. Kill them (obviously worse for the hostage; so, there is no need for further discussion regarding this option), 2. Keep them as slaves or 3. Release them from custody.
During the nation of Israel’s history, there were occasions in which they did actually set their prisoners of war free, but in many of those instances, the exact same liberated captives would return to their homeland, regroup, and later mount renewed attacks upon Israel (1 Kings 20:31-34, 42, 22:1-40; 2 Kings 6:8-33, esp. vs. 23-24). This would needlessly lead to the additional ravages of war and bloodshed. So, in those turbulent times, national survival often necessitated retaining custody of their POW’s as slaves. This is not much different from what we currently do with our terrorist militants and enemy combatants who are captured on the field of battle. If anything, war captives during biblical times had greater freedom because they were not indefinitely confined to a prison cell or detention area (primarily due to the unavailability of such correctional facilities). While this does not represent an ideal situation, the keeping of war captives was the best available course of action especially given the circumstances at the time when the Torah Law was divinely communicated to the nation of Israel.
The main controversy surrounds one particular text that has been misrepresented far too many times to count. It’s the much maligned Ex. 21:20-21 passage, which reads as follows: “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two.” Although these specific verses do not stipulate the exact punishment for the homicide of a bondservant, this entire section of Scripture begins with, and the context clearly indicates, the death sentence for anyone convicted of murder (Ex. 21:12). The two immediately preceding verses (Ex. 21:18-19) also describe a very similar scenario regarding non-bondservants. According to vss. 18-19, if two Jewish men were to become engaged in a physical altercation, and one of them knocked the other unconscious, the guilty party was not “held liable if the other can get up” (vs. 19) [Notice the utilization of very similar terminology – if the Jewish citizen “can get up” (vs. 19) or the bondservant “recovers” (vs. 21)]. More specifically, any Israelite who committed an act of assault and battery upon a fellow citizen was not held responsible in the sense that he was not to be punished with death, but he was held accountable for his actions by having to compensate the man for the loss of his time (Ex. 21:19) and by being physically punished in a way that was commensurate with the inflicted injury (Ex. 21:23-25). With all of this in mind, Exodus 21:20-21, should actually be paraphrased to state, “If a man beats his male or female servant with a rod and the servant dies as direct result, he must be punished [with death], but he is not to be punished [with death] if the servant gets up after a day or two.” The earliest Jewish Targums dealing with this passage are in agreement, and as one of them explains, “When a man hath smitten his Kenaanite [Canaanite] man servant or maid servant with a staff, and he die the same day under his hand, he shall be judged with the judgment of death by the sword.” The modern commentaries concur with this assessment as well.
Furthermore, verse 21 most definitely cannot mean that there was no required punishment for non-lethal crimes because just a few verses later (Ex. 21:26-27), the abusive master was actually held responsible for the cruel treatment of his bondservants. This law very effectively eliminated the deep-seated disparities that formerly existed between a free citizen and a servant with regards to the impartial implementation of the death penalty for certain capital offenses. However, many assume that this verse grants a slaveholder free rein to beat his bondservants to within an inch of their lives. The interpretation of this verse as a license to abuse servants, though, is only possible when one views Ex. 21:20-21 in total isolation from the surrounding context (what comes immediately before and after) and ignores the rest of the decrees contained in the Old Testament penal code. The same type of disingenuous tack could easily be employed against our current legal statutes if they were to be viewed in an identically selective fashion. For example, in every state of America, there are laws that mandate life imprisonment or the death penalty for first-degree murder, but no rational person misconstrues this fact as permission to indiscriminately partake in all other non-fatal assaults. As we are all well aware, our legal system also contains additional laws that dictate punishment for those individuals who commit lesser offenses. The Torah similarly prescribed specific consequences for any mistreatment of indentured servants or slaves. Aside from the previously described death penalty for the murder of a slave in Ex. 21:20, God’s law contained a second provision which was enforced against those that caused permanent bodily harm to any of their servants (loss of an eye, tooth, etc.). In such a case, the injured party would be immediately set free and released from all prior obligations (Ex. 21:26-27).
A third law was also enacted to prevent all types of cruelty committed against servants/slaves even if the physical effects were temporary in nature. Deut. 23:15-16 demanded that a fugitive bondservant, fleeing an abusive master, be provided with permanent sanctuary and safety. This “escape clause” allowed for an indentured servant to run away, and it further dictated that they could never be forced to return. In fact, these servants were completely free to live wherever and to do whatever they wanted (Deut. 23:16). Therefore, the harsh exploitation of servants or slaves hit the proprietor right where it hurt him the most, his “pocket,” as we say. The fugitive slave laws, passed by the United States Congress in 1793 and 1850 which required the return of slaves who had escaped to a free state, stand in stark opposition to the guarantee of asylum granted in Deut. 23:15-16.
Regarding foreigners, several Old Testament verses command the kind and loving treatment of all non-citizens living among the Jewish people, which obviously precluded any capricious schemes that might involve the forcible enslavement of them.
“Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt”(Ex. 22:21).
“Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt”(Ex. 23:9).
“When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native–born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God” (Lev. 19:33-34).
“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt” (Deut. 10:17-19).
Foreigners were also afforded many of the exact same social protections and religious privileges as natural-born Jewish citizens [i.e. The Sabbath day of rest (Ex. 20:10, 23:12; Deut. 5:14), property ownership in Israel (Ezek. 47:21-23), protection from the avenger of blood (Num. 35:14-16), access to the court system (Deut. 1:16) and inclusion in the religious sacrifices, holidays and celebrations of the Jewish nation (Ex. 12:48; Lev. 17:8-9, 22:17-19; Num. 9:14, 15:14;Deut. 16:9-12, 14; 26:11)].
Once again, let it be reiterated that the Jewish nation was strictly forbidden from commencing any unilateral, military forays or full-scale invasions into the surrounding countries, especially with the express intention of taking slaves (Ex. 21:16), and they were also commanded to treat the foreigners living among them with equal dignity, respect, and even love (Lev. 19:34; Deut. 10:19). These two facts, when taken together, clearly indicate that the only type of foreign slaves that the Israelites were allowed to permanently possess were prisoners of war captured during the course of repelling any armed attacks conducted against them by their hostile neighbor states. Israel’s territorial limits were divinely-established, and whenever their national security and sovereignty were at stake, they were permitted to protect and defend their geographical boundaries. These significant details also shed a great amount of light on Lev. 25:44-45, which is a favorite go-to passage for many anti-Bible apologists who often point to it as supposedly sanctioning the arbitrary abduction of temporary foreign visitors to Israel’s theocratic kingdom. However, as we have seen, these verses are not really describing the sort of situation that the skeptics would like people to think. So, in an effort to once and for all remove any doubt in this regard, consider the directive of Numbers 15:15-16 which dictates the fair and equitable treatment of all foreign immigrants, guest workers, settlers or refugees: “The community is to have the same rules for you and for the foreigner residing among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the foreigner shall be the same before the Lord: The same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the foreigner residing among you.” There is absolutely no way to read such an unambiguous statement and come away with any other interpretation, except that the God of the Bible is the inimitable author of the universal principle of equal justice under law (Mal. 3:5). In fact, Ex. 23:9 commands, “Do not oppress the foreigner,” and Ex. 22:21, Jer. 7:6 and Zech. 7:10 basically reiterate the same divine directive. Violations of this basic principle when it came to resident aliens would result in the invocation of the communal curse of Deut. 27:19 upon the Jewish offender (“‘Cursed is anyone who withholds justice from the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow.’ Then all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’”).
Deut. 24:17 is also the historical equivalent of the equal protection clause applied to foreigners in ancient Israel’s Old Testament “constitution,” and Deut. 14:28-29 and 26:12 require that a portion of the nation’s third-year tithe be designated for poor expatriates living among God’s people. A non-Jew, who relocated to Israel, could of his or her own volition further choose to become an official citizen of the Hebrew community and fully participate in its religious covenant with Yahweh (Ex. 12:48-49; Num. 9:14, 15:14-16; Deut. 26:11-13; Isa. 14:1, 56:3, 6; Ezek. 47:21-23). This is hardly indicative of a nation bent on enslaving every foreigner in sight, as some wrongly presume. The eternal Lord is clearly the original founder and forefather of liberty, and the Word of God is rife with the incontrovertible proof of this all-important truth. Any fraudulent claims to the contrary have no biblical basis in fact and should therefore be definitively rejected out of hand. Author and former atheist James D. Agresti explains that “historical revisionism is at odds with primary sources that enlighten the events of the past, such as these words penned by former slave Booker T. Washington in his celebrated book, Up From Slavery: ‘If no other consideration had convinced me of the value of a Christian life, the Christlike work which the Church of all denominations in America has done during the last thirty-five years for the elevation of the black man would have made me a Christian.’” [Emphasis added]. Simply put, when the Bible is properly understood and applied, everyone benefits and the cause of freedom is advanced.
Before moving on to the New Testament, it is also important to remember an often repeated refrain found throughout the Old Testament regarding the treatment of bondservants. Over and over the Lord instructs Israel to “remember that you were slaves in Egypt” (Deut. 5:15, 15:15, 16:12, 24:18, 24:22). These words represent something akin to an early prototype of the Golden Rule (Matt. 7:12). The phrase is the equivalent of God telling His people, “Think about what it was like when you were slaves … put yourselves in your servant’s shoes … you were once slaves so remember what it was like … treat your servants as you would want to be treated.” In other words, if the Jewish people were ever tempted to callously treat any of the vulnerable people living among them as subhuman chattel, God was constantly reminding them of how unpleasant their suffering had been when they were slaves to the Egyptian Pharaoh.
The Old Testament’s focus was primarily upon limiting the inhumane practice of slavery/indentured servitude and sowing the seeds of its inevitable demise. The Mosaic Law also implemented many humanitarian reforms with the very noble purpose of moving the nation of Israel closer to God’s optimal goal – the liberation of every victim of human bondage and the termination of the barbarous practice altogether. In the New Testament, the comprehensive and cogent articulation of this supreme ideal comes even more conspicuously into full view.
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