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Semeia 83/84: Slavery in Text and Interpretation [double issue]
Allen Dwight Callahan
Publication Date
February 2001


The classic essays in this volume address the usefulness of Orlando Patterson’s work on slavery to New Testament studies.  Contributors approach the question of slavery from two directions. Part One examines the evidence for slavery in antiquity and attitudes toward it. Part Two considers specific receptions of Paul and slavery by persons of African descent in North America. Contributions to this essential collection pushed scholars toward a more complex, critical view of the Greek and Roman slave systems, and their work continues to influence New Testament studies today.


Introduction: The Slavery of New Testament Studies

Allen Dwight Callahan, Richard A. Horsley, and Abraham Smith

PART I: “Filled with Bitterness”

1. The Slave Systems of Classical Antiquity and Their Reluctant Recognition by Modern Scholars

Richard A. Horsley

2. Servants of God(s) and Servants of Kings in Israel and the Ancient Near East

Dexter E. Callender, Jr.

3. ‘Ebed/doulos: Terms and Social Status in the Meeting of Hebrew Biblical and Hellenistic Roman Culture

Benjamin G. Wright, III

4. The Depiction of Slavery in the Ancient Novel

Lawrence M. Wills

5. Slave Resistance in Classical Antiquity

Allen Dwight Callahan and Richard A. Horsley

6. Paul and Slavery: A Critical Alternative to Recent Readings

Richard A. Horsley

PART II: “The Darkest Days of the World” 

7. “Somebody Done Hoodoo’d the Hoodoo Man”: Language, Power, Resistance, and the Effective History of Pauline Texts in American Slavery

Clarice J. Martin

8. “Brother Saul”: An Amvivalent Witness to Freedom

Allen Dwight Callahan

9. Putting “Paul” Back Together Again: William Wells Brown’s Clotel and Black Abolitionist Approaches to Paul

Abraham Smith

10. Paul, Slavery and Freedom: Personal and Socio-Historical Reflections

Orlando Patterson


11. Reading our Heritage: A Response

Antoinette Clark Wire

12. Paul and Slavery: A Response

Stanley K. Stowers