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Social Justice and the Legitimacy of SlaveryThe Role of Philosophical Asceticism from Ancient Judaism to Late Antiquity$
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Ilaria L.E. Ramelli

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198777274

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198777274.001.0001

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The New Testament, Jesus, and the Enigma of Paul

The New Testament, Jesus, and the Enigma of Paul

Scriptural Background for Patristic Positions

(p.101) 2 The New Testament, Jesus, and the Enigma of Paul
Social Justice and the Legitimacy of Slavery

Ilaria L. E. Ramelli

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines New Testament positions on slavery and poverty. Galatians 3:28 argues against the social, gender, and ethnic inferiority theorized by Aristotle. Paul may have embraced the Stoicizing view of slavery as ‘morally indifferent’. Philemon and its interpretations are examined. 1 Corinthians 7:24 may exhort slaves to take advantage either of the opportunity of being emancipated, or of their servile condition. The evolution of prescriptions to slaves and masters in the ‘disputed Paulines’ and to slaves in the ‘Pastorals’ and 1 Peter, is highlighted. These reflect a trend to preserve slavery and women’s submission. Jesus’s teaching about service, about the poor as blessed, and against wealth discourage slave ownership and accumulation of wealth. Revelation is critical of human trafficking; the Gospel of Thomas reflects Jesus’s sayings against wealth. Acts’ description of the Jesus movement as sharing all goods is shown to converge with Lucian’s depiction of second-century Christian communities.

Keywords:   New Testament positions on slavery and poverty, Jesus, Paul, slavery as ‘morally indifferent’, ‘disputed Paulines’ and ‘Pastorals’, 1 Peter, Revelation, Gospel of Thomas, Acts, Lucian

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