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Jewish Slavery in Antiquity$
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Catherine Hezser

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199280865

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199280865.001.0001

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Slave Parables

Slave Parables

(p.346) 16 Slave Parables
Jewish Slavery in Antiquity

Catherine Hezser (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Slave parables are an important means of employing slave imagery for theological purposes. The large majority of these parables are transmitted in amoraic Midrashim, but some also appear in tannaitic Midrashim and in the Tosefta. This shows that the form of the slave parable was already known to the rabbis in the first two centuries but flourished especially from the third century onwards. Slave parables also appear in the gospels of the New Testament. Interestingly, both the gospels and rabbinic literature contain many more slave parables than parables featuring day labourers or tenant farmers. The slave parables can be seen as expanded metaphors which play with the various associations which the ancient slave experience provided and construct detailed and at the same time succinct theological vignettes out of them.

Keywords:   parables, slaves, theology, Midrashim, Tosefta, New Testament, expanded metaphors, rabbinic literature

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