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The New Testament and Slavery Essay

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There was no mention of how slavery started in the New Testament. Before the first century, the most common way that people became slaves was by being captured in war or kidnapped by pirates. Later, breeding became a common source for getting slaves. If a slave gave birth to a child, that child would become a slave. This kept the slave population large. Also many people sold themselves into slavery because it was easier than being poor. Some people, who owed debts, sold themselves into slavery so that when they bought their freedom they would be debt free. Many of these slaves resumed normal lives after they bought their freedom. Some people threw away their babies if they didn't want them, and if a baby was found it could be made a slave. Also some parents sold their children into slavery. Most slaves, except for those who sold themselves into slavery, couldn't do anything about it (Bartchy 543).
The law said that slaves were objects to be bought, owned, and sold by their owners. Slaves had no rights such as becoming married, inheriting objects or representing themselves in court. Slaves were punished harsher that free men for breaking the law. The law does allow slaves to own property and do with it what they want. Slaves were not considered to have any family and they were expected to die working as a slave (Bartchy 544).
The social status depended mostly on the status of their owner. There appeared to be no difference between slaves and free men based on dress and race, and they mingled together, making it hard to determine who was a slave and who was free. Slaves had many jobs including household jobs like cooking and cleaning, but some were tutors, doctors, and managers of the house. Slaves also worked as janitors, salesmen...


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...away. I have come to the conclusion through reading the ISBE article and Philemon, that Onesimus was seeking some sort of guidance from Paul about Christianity, instead of looking for a way to escape his owner. Paul doesn’t scold Onesimus for coming to him, but he sends him back with a letter to Philemon telling him that Onesimus has been with himself, and that Philemon should accept him back as a fellow Christian. Paul also tells Philemon that he would keep Onesimus with him, but he didn’t want to do anything without Philemon’s word. This clearly displays that this is a non-hostile letter, regarding the faith of Onesimus, and not just instructions about what to do with him.





















Works Cited


Bartchy, S.S. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 4. Edetid by Geoffery W.
Bromiley. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1979.



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