Beverly Gaventa asks some hard questions about slavery in the New Testament.
It’s very hard, sitting at our vantage point, to look back and see the assumption in these texts that slaves are there, that this is continuing. It’s very hard to see that. You see some push against it in Philemon, maybe in First Corinthians, depending on how you translate a particular passage. It’s very disturbing to us.
I think when we’re disturbed by those things, we need to ask ourselves what we imagine, a millennium from now, people will judge us for thinking and doing and being. And I think we see some inconsistencies and we want to say to Paul, please, don’t you hear this, won’t you act on this? You know, we want to say that to other ancient texts. We need to realise that we’re all part of our own cultures and we don’t see outside of our own culture, we don’t see beyond that. I think Paul gets glimpses that most of us don’t get.