Obstacles to Slaves' Participation in the Corinthian Church.
Journal of Biblical Literature 1998, Fall, 117, 3
Journal of Biblical Literature
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Paul claims that membership in the body of Christ dissolves barriers between slave and free (1 Cor 12:13; Gal 3:28; cf. Col 3:11). Largely on this basis, scholars have inferred that slave status did not entail any special liabilities for participation in the Christian community. However, because slaves were their masters" sexual property, their obligations to their masters would at times have included actions defined as polluting or aberrant in the Christian body. Slaves whose owners were not members of the church would have been especially vulnerable, since their owners would not have been subject to the community's censure. This article, a study in the social history of Pauline Christianity, has two major sections. The first reviews evidence concerning slaves and their lack of control over sexual activity in the ancient Mediterranean world. Ancient texts record acceptance of masters' control over their slaves" sexuality and also establish a strong link between slavery and prostitution. The second major section considers Paul's discourse on porneia in 1 Corinthians 5-7 in light of evidence concerning the sexual vulnerability of slaves. A lack of attention to the actual requirements of ancient slavery has prevented scholars from acknowledging obstacles to slaves' participation in early Christianity, more specifically, in the Corinthian church. Concerning the sexual availability of slaves, Moses I. Finley has written, "This is treated as a commonplace in Graeco-Roman literature ... only modern writers have managed largely to ignore it, to the extent that the fundamental research remains to be done." (1) Although modern scholars have failed to ask whether slaves' sexual availability affected their membership in the Christian community, this very question emerges explicitly as an ecclesiastic question in the third century. The Apostolic Tradition traditionally attributed to Hippolytus includes in its discussion of baptism a list of those whose participation in the Christian community is proscribed or otherwise regulated. (2) The situation of enslaved concubines receives particular attention. Enslaved concubines may join the community if they have been faithful to their masters and if they have raised their children. (3) On the other hand, men who have concubines may only join the community if they contract legitimate marriages. As always, contemporary scholars should exercise caution in asserting the relevance of a third-century document to the first-century church. What is striking here is that an ancient Christian source articulates separate sexual standards for slaves and for those in greater control of their sexual activity, thus calling attention to a moral conundrum intrinsic to the situation of enslaved Christians that modern biblical scholarship has neglected.
- 2,99 €
- Catégorie : Arts et disciplines linguistiques
- Sortie : 22 sept. 1998
- Éditeur : Society of Biblical Literature
- Pages : 43
- Langue : Anglais