Original Research

Constructing the rights and duties of slave-owners as socio-historic context of the New Testament

H. Goede
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 43, No 3 | a239 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v43i3.239 | © 2009 H. Goede | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 July 2009 | Published: 26 July 2009

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H. Goede, School of Biblical Studies & Ancient Languages, Potchefstroom Campus, North-West University, South Africa

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This article aims to construct the rights and duties of slave- owners in antiquity as part of the socio-historical context of the New Testament. In order to achieve this aim, the primary sources referring to Greek, Roman and Jewish law of slavery will first be described. Three aspects of the law of slavery, namely legal definitions of freedom and slavery, the legal status of slaves, and the rights of slave-owners are investigated in Greek, Roman and Jewish law. Relevant texts from these sources are then identified, analysed and interpreted. The re- sults of this process of analysis and interpretation are used to construct the legal context within which the exhortations directed at slave-owners in the New Testament should be read. We submit that Jewish law provided a sound alternative legal and religious context to the writers of the New Testament addressing Christian slave-owners. This alternative context functioned as a counterweight to the strict legal contexts pro- vided by Greek and Roman law.


New Testament; Rights; Slave-Owners; Slavery; Duties Regarding Slaves


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