Ecclesiastical Development and Slaveholding Culture
Shaped by the slaveholding culture of the Roman Empire, early Christian ethics reflected the moral perspectives of ancient slaveholders, a slaveholder morality. The Christian body matured in a context in which the ubiquitous availability and vulnerabilities of slave bodies distorted the emotional and ethical development of freeborn persons. The household codes (haustafeln) of New Testament epistles (including Colossians, Ephesians, the Pastoral Epistles, and 1 Peter) and selected extracanonical sources provided a new and powerful ideological tool for slaveholders who sought to create compliant bodies. In a world in which slaves were designated and treated as bodies, perhaps it is not surprising that ascetic Christians came to discipline their bodies as slaves.
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