Recent Research on Paul and Slavery
In this volume, John Byron provides a survey of 200 years of scholarly interpretation of Paul and slavery with a focus on the last 35 years.
New Testament scholarship and Paul have had a complicated relationship over the question of slavery. For many decades there has been a struggle to reconcile the abolitionist cause with a biblical text that seemingly supports the institution of slavery. Then the more recent discovery of inscriptions and documents referring to slaves in antiquity has added new dimensions to the debate. Furthermore, new interpretative approaches to the New Testament, including social-scientific criticism, rhetorical criticism and postcolonial criticism, have challenged earlier interpretations of Paul’s statements about slavery. The issue has even more recently taken on a new shape as descendants of former North American slaves have engaged with the way Paul has been interpreted and used to justify the enslavement of their ancestors.
In this volume, John Byron provides a survey of 200 years of scholarly interpretation of Paul and slavery with a focus on the last 35 years. After a general overview of the history of research, Byron focusses in turn on four specific areas: African-American responses to Paul, Paul’s slavery metaphors, the elliptical phrase in 1 Corinthians 7.21, and the letter to Philemon. An epilogue highlights four areas in which scholarship is continuing to change its understanding of ancient slavery and, in consequence, its interpretation of Paul. New Testament students and scholars will find the volume an valuable specialist resource that collects and analyses the most important developments on Paul and slavery.