The exhortations to slave–owners in the New Testament : a philological study
This study aims to construct the legal rights and duties of slave-owners in the first century AD as context for the exhortations in the New Testament directed at slave-owners. The central theoretical argument has been that the legal context of the first readers is essential for a valid interpretation of these exhortations, and that taking into account this legal context makes a valid interpretation possible. The study applies philological and comparative methods as well as analysis, interpretation and synthesis of the collected material. Chapter 1 provides an outline of the study. Chapter 2 first defines a search filter to delimit the vast collection of material on slavery in antiquity, and then describes ancient slavery as general context to the texts and the New Testament exhortations analysed in subsequent chapters. In chapter 3 the legal context has been constructed by way of analysis of primary texts from Greek, Roman, and Jewish law. Chapter 4 deals with primary texts on the philosophical underpinnings of slavery in the three worlds under investigation. In chapter 5 Greek, Roman, and Jewish primary texts dealing with the conduct of slave-owners in respect of their slaves have been analysed. In chapter 6 the New Testament exhortations to slave-owners have been analysed utilising the contexts constructed in the preceeding chapters. Chapter 7 summarises the findings and conclusions of the study. The study has concluded the New Testament writers’ acceptance of the legal and social reality of slavery in the first century AD. Their writings, however, contain unique features with a direct bearing on the rights and duties of slave-owners namely their persistent placement of the slave-owner – slave relationship in the context of the believing slave-owner and/or slave’s relationship with Jesus Christ. Within this framework, the study points towards diverging viewpoints within the New Testament on a continuum between social separation and acculturation.
- Humanities