Slavery in Early Christianity / Edition 1

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Overview

Slavery was widespread throughout the Mediterranean lands where Christianity was born and developed. Though Christians were both slaves and slaveholders, there has been surprisingly little study of what early Christians thought about the realities of slavery. How did they reconcile slavery with the Gospel teachings of brotherhood and charity? Slaves were considered the sexual property of their owners: what was the status within the Church of enslaved women and young male slaves who were their owners' sexual playthings? Is there any reason to believe that Christians shied away from the use of corporal punishments so common among ancient slave owners?

Jennifer A. Glancy brings a multilayered approach to these and many other issues, offering a comprehensive re-examination of the evidence pertaining to slavery in early Christianity. Drawing on a wide variety of sources, Glancy situates early Christian slavery in its broader cultural setting. She argues that scholars have consistently underestimated the pervasive impact of slavery on the institutional structures, ideologies, and practices of the early churches and of individual Christians. The churches, she shows, grew to maturity with the assumption that slaveholding was the norm, and welcomed both slaves and slaveholders as members. Glancy draws attention to the importance of the body in the thought and practice of ancient slavery. To be a slave was to be a body subject to coercion and violation, with no rights to corporeal integrity or privacy. Even early Christians who held that true slavery was spiritual in nature relied, ultimately, on bodily metaphors to express this. Slavery, Glancy demonstrates, was an essential feature of both the physical and metaphysical worlds of early Christianity.

The first book devoted to the early Christian ideology and practice of slavery, this work sheds new light on the world of the ancient Mediterranean and on the development of the early Church.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A wide-ranging and authoritative investigation of early Christian responses to slavery in antiquity. Glancy's research is characterised by thorough attention to the documentary and literary evidence and demonstrates a keen ability to challenge well-established positions. An essential addition to any research library with a focus on ancient history, early Christianity, or theology." —International Journal of the Classical Tradition

"Glancy has given us an energetic reappraisal of the issues, provocative in the best sense even when one does not agree with her conclusions. Engaging with scholarship from the recent past, she challenged me to rethink my conclusions and assumptions."— Journal of Early Christian Studies

"a fresh and convincing monograph on slavery in early Christianity Her new approach will mandate a significant rewriting of how slaves and slaveholders were addressed in canonical and extra-canonical sources of the early Christian communities. Glancy has made a major and definitive contribution that scholars of early Christianity should not ignore."—Anglican Theological Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195136098
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 3/14/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Lexile: 1470L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 6.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jennifer A. Glancy is Georg Professor of Religious Studies at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y. She holds a Ph.D. in Religion from Columbia University. Her numerous articles cover topics including gender studies in the apocrypha and early Christian writings, the Bible and cultural studies, and slavery in Hellenistic Judaism and the New Testament. She is a co-author of Introduction to the Study of Religion. She currently chairs the Bible and Cultural Studies section of the Society of Biblical Literature.

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Table of Contents

Abbreviations
Introduction 3
1 Bodies and Souls: The Rhetoric of Slavery 9
2 Body Work: Slavery and the Pauline Churches 39
3 Body Language: Corporal Anxiety and Christian Theology 71
4 Parabolic Bodies: The Figure of the Slave in the Sayings of Jesus 102
5 Moral Bodies: Ecclesiastical Development and Slaveholding Culture 130
Notes 157
Bibliography 181
Index 193
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2004

    in depth and intriguing

    Have to admit that this book should be a duty to read before one enters letters of Paul. Unfortunately, most contemporary readers of New Testament think that conditions and reality back then was sort of like we live in now. Cruel awakening once one reads this book! However, one thing I would correct in Ms Clancy's title is: Slavery in early christian religion. Christianity existed only during a short period after Pentecost, and still does but is not institutionalized.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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