The Figure of the Slave in the Sayings of Jesus
Because so many of Jesus’ sayings, especially his parables, feature the figure of the slave, they create the impression that Jesus was as familiar with the everyday world of slaveholding and enslavement as with the worlds of farming and fishing. The parables represent slaves in managerial roles, as subject to corporal punishment and other kinds of physical abuse, and, on the basis of faithful or unfaithful service, as praiseworthy or blameworthy. Although parables in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew rely heavily on the figure of the slave, it is likely that that an emphasis on slavery featured in Jesus’ own discourse. The parables attributed to Jesus reinforce other evidence concerning the practice and ideology of slavery in the early Roman Empire.
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