Slavery

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admindp
Site Admin
Posts: 78
Joined: Thursday Jul 13, 2023

Slavery

Post by admindp »

I have often read Daily Prayer and very much appreciate the prayers that you have collect and share.

I wanted to respond to your teaching on slavery from Rom 6:20–23 from today (April 25, 2024). I suggest that you look at some of the current research on slavery in first century Rome. In light of the research, your statement that Roman slavery was “often voluntary, and without the baleful overtones it has in the modern world” is inaccurate. It’s more accurate to say, unlike the practice of slavery in the US, it was not based on race, there could be some upward mobility for men (though not for the majority) and the granting and purchase of freedom was probably practiced more often than in the South. It was still dehumanizing, brutal and, therefore, baleful. Slaves did not have human status or any rights. I can find no evidence that it was “often voluntary” in the first century Roman Empire. Furthermore, for women it was much more brutal than for men—the practice of rape of girls and women slaves was assumed and the only upward mobility for women came through sex: being freed and married to an owner (or an owner’s son).

I believe that teaching about slavery from the Bible and even Bible scholars often conflate the Mosaic Law on bondslaves in Ex 21:5–6/Deut 15:16–17 with the prevalent inhumane practice in the Roman Empire, which was a far different time and culture.

So, if you have any evidence that Greco-Roman slavery was often voluntary, other than biblical scholars who are simply repeating it in an echo chamber without evidence, I would be very interested in it. Otherwise, inaccurate teaching on slavery leads to inaccurate exegesis of passages in which it is relevant, and please carefully research and correct your statements.

Thank you for your work and your consideration,
Cynthia Westfall
Tom K.

Re: Slavery

Post by Tom K. »

Cynthia,
That's some pretty damning condemnation there. You're obviously an expert on ancient slavery. Maybe you should share your credentials and work on the subject. Otherwise,,,well, you know.

Tom K.
4/28/24
admindp
Site Admin
Posts: 78
Joined: Thursday Jul 13, 2023

Re: Slavery

Post by admindp »

Tom, she sent me some credentials I didn't post. I don't really place much stock in credentials though, lol, I want to see the source and/or argument.

Here's one on the difficulty of ascertaining the number of those who sold themselves into Roman slavery for some reason: Walter Scheidel, "Quantifying the Sources of Slaves in the Early Roman Empire," Journal of Roman Studies 87 (1997), pp. 156–169.
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