Onesimus as slave in the Philemon letter : social and theological implications for Ethos and identity

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dc.contributor.advisor Punt, Jeremy en_ZA
dc.contributor.author Oh, JungHwan en_ZA
dc.contributor.other University of Stellenbosch. Faculty of Theology. Dept. of Old and New Testament. en_ZA
dc.date.accessioned 2010-10-19T09:12:39Z en_ZA
dc.date.accessioned 2010-12-15T10:20:47Z
dc.date.available 2010-10-19T09:12:39Z en_ZA
dc.date.available 2010-12-15T10:20:47Z
dc.date.issued 2010-12 en_ZA
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/5199
dc.description Thesis (MTh (Old and New Testament))--University of Stellenbosch, 2010. en_ZA
dc.description.abstract ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In general, we tend to see slavery through negative eyes, also in the first century C.E. The reason is that slaves were not treated as human beings, but as things in the first century C.E. Therefore Patterson (1982:38) describes slavery as social death. However, there were communities that treated slaves as human beings, not just as objects. An example is the Christian community in which Philemon’s household was located, and in which a slave called Onesimus lived. Various opinions are suggested concerning Onesimus’ slave identity, but scholars generally agree with the idea that he was indeed a slave. These debates are briefly considered in Chapter 2. Onesimus, who ran away from his owner, met Paul in prison. He then became a Christ-believer through Paul. Onesimus’ actual social status was still that of slave, even when he became a believer. Nevertheless, his spiritual status was that of a freedman in Christ. Then, could Onesimus actually become a freedman in the social sense? My answer is ‘Yes’, based on two different perspectives, viz. a theological and a social perspective. In Chapters 3 and 4, slavery is treated largely in a theological sense. According to a theological perspective, Onesimus could have spiritual freedom from God when he became a believer even though his current social status was defined as a slave. This dissertation introduces Paul’s three other letters which use the term ‘slavery’, namely 1 Cor 7:17-24, Gal 4:21-5:1 and Phil 2:6-11. These three letters show how Paul understands the term ‘slavery’ in his theological thinking. In terms of metaphor, the term ‘slavery’ can have various meanings in biblical contexts. Therefore these three letters provide a good idea towards an understanding of Onesimus’ identity as a freedman in a Christian community, and in particular, in Paul’s theological thinking. In Chapter 5, a more practical examination of slavery was provided. In the social perspective, the possibility of the manumission of Onesimus could be affected by the first century Greco-Roman slavery system. Two factors are focussed upon, namely the household and manumission, to suggest the possibility of a change of Onesimus’ status. Finally, the possibility of the change of Onesimus’ status can be fully assumed in both perspectives. In addition, the manumission of Onesimus could give hope to others who lived in slavery in Roman society. Therefore defining the identity of Onesimus gives us two important conclusions; slaves could live as freed persons in a social sense on the one hand; on the other hand, in a theological sense even slaves could receive spiritual freedom by Christ’s love regardless of their social status. This is because all people are one in Christ and there is no social discrimination between people in the Christian community. en_ZA
dc.description.abstract AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Ons is geneig om slawerny oor die algemeen negatief te beoordeel, soos ook in die eerste eeu n.C. Die rede hiervoor is die feit dat slawe tydens die eerste eeu nie as mense behandel is nie, maar as dinge. Patterson (1982:38) beskryf slawerny daarom as sosiale dood. Daar was egter gemeenskappe waar slawe as menslike wesens behandel is en nie as blote objekte nie. 'n Voorbeeld is die Christen-gemeenskap waarin Philemon se huishouding was, en waar 'n slaaf genaamd Onesimus gewoon het. Verskeie menings word aangebied aangaande Onesimus se slawe-identiteit, maar akademici het dit eens dat hy wel 'n slaaf was. Hierdie debatte word kortliks opgeweeg in Hoofstuk 2. Onesimus, wat gevlug het van sy eienaar, het Paulus in die gevangenis ontmoet. Daar is hy deur Paulus bekeer tot die Christelike geloof. Onesimus se werklike sosiale status was steeds dié van 'n slaaf, selfs nadat hy 'n gelowige geword het, maar sy geestelike status was dié van 'n vrygemaakte in Christus. Sou Onesimus ook as 'n vryegemaakte eskou kon word in die sosiale sin? My antwoord is ‘Ja’, op grond van twee verskillende perspektiewe, nl. 'n teologiese en 'n sosiale perspektief. In Hoofstukke 3 en 4 word slawerny grotendeels in teologiese sin behandel. Hiervolgens sou Onesimus geestelike vryheid deur God verkry het toe hy 'n gelowige word, hoewel sy heersende sosiale status hom as slaaf gedefinieer het. Hierdie proefskrif betrek Paulus se ander drie briewe waarin na slawerny verwys word, naamlik Kor. 7:17–24, Gal 4:21–5:1 en Fil 2:6–11. Hierdie drie briewe toon Paulus se begrip van die term ‘slawerny’ in sy teologiese beredenering. Metafories kan die term ‘slawerny’ verskillende betekenisse hê in die bybelse kontekste. Die briewe bied daarom 'n helder omskrywing van Onesimus se identiteit binne 'n Christen-gemeenskap, en spesifiek, in Paulus se teologiese denke. In Hoofstuk 5 word slawerny in meer praktiese diepte ondersoek. Volgens 'n sosiale perspektief, sou die eerste-eeuse Grieks-Romeinse slawernystelsel 'n rol speel in die vrystelling van Onesimus. Twee faktore kom hier ter sprake, naamlik die huishouding, en vrystelling – om die moontlikheid van 'n statusverandering vir Onesimus te suggereer. Ten slotte kan die moontlikheid van 'n verandering van Onesimus se status binne beide perspektiewe aanvaar word. Daarby sou die vrystelling van Onesimus hoop verskaf het aan andere wat in die Romeinse samelewing in slawerny geleef het. Om die identiteit van Onesimus te definieer, bring ons tot twee belangrike gevolgtrekkings: slawe kon in die sosiale sin, as vrygemaakte mense leef ; in teologiese sin kon hulle ook geestelik bevry word deur die liefde van Christus, onafhanklik van hulle sosiale status. Dit is gegrond in die aanname dat alle mense een is in Christus en dat daar geen diskriminasie bestaan tussen mense binne 'n Christen-gemeenskap nie. en_ZA
dc.format.extent 125 p. en_ZA
dc.language.iso en en_ZA
dc.publisher Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch en_ZA
dc.subject Ethos en_ZA
dc.subject Onesimus en_ZA
dc.subject Dissertations -- Old and New Testament en_ZA
dc.subject Theses -- Old and New Testament en_ZA
dc.subject.lcsh Bible. N.T. Philemon -- Criticism, interpretation, etc. en_ZA
dc.title Onesimus as slave in the Philemon letter : social and theological implications for Ethos and identity en_ZA
dc.type Thesis en_ZA
dc.rights.holder University of Stellenbosch en_ZA


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