John Byron

in Biblical Studies

ISBN: 9780195393361
Published online September 2010 | | DOI:


Slavery was an accepted part of the world in which the biblical authors lived and wrote. It was a vital part of the empires in the ancient Near East and the Greco-Roman West. The Hebrew Bible condones slavery, contains laws regulating it, and even uses it as a metaphor to describe God’s relationship with Israel. The New Testament, entrenched in the Greco-Roman world, accepts the fact of slavery, commands slaves to obey their masters, and even recounts the return of a slave to his master. But as attitudes began to change and abolitionism became a motivating force, biblicists were challenged to reexamine the Bible in light of the new worldview. The Bible was used both to support and to condemn slavery. More recently, the descendants of former slaves have asked how the Bible, used to subjugate their ancestors, can still be a valuable religious text. These shifts in attitude have led to a reevaluation of how slavery is studied. Scholars have moved away from legal definitions of slavery, which view the institution from the owner’s perspective, to sociological definitions that provide insight into how the institution was experienced by the enslaved.

Article.  8411 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribeRecommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »