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Title: Manumission in Roman Corinth : a study of 1 Cor. 7:21 in its Greco-Roman social context
Author: Mizutani, Tsutomu
ISNI:       0000 0004 5919 1083
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2015
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Mallon chrēsai in 1 Cor. 7:21 is considered to be one of the more difficult texts to interpret in the New Testament. The text has a long history of exegetical debate on Paul’s view on the manumission of slaves, in which the text is mainly understood as either ‘use the present condition of slavery’ or ‘use the condition obtained by becoming a freedperson’. The main trend of recent studies has been to maintain the so-called ‘take freedom’ interpretation; however, there is still a need for a clearer understanding of the social meaning of becoming a freedperson within the context of first-century CE Corinth. This study discusses the crux of 1 Cor. 7:21 in the light of the social setting of Roman Corinth, with a particular focus on the nature of manumission and its influence in the context of Roman control over the Greek province. It is known that, after manumission, ex-slaves entered into the relationship of patronatus with their former owner, and ultimately with the emperor. This study argues that manumission in the province was an important means of imperial rule which gained cultic character. The study also discusses the issue of food offered to idols (1 Cor. 8:1-11:1), an issue that shares the same cultic context. The situation of the Christ-followers in Corinth was that their attachment to the imperial cult would put some of them at risk of falling back into idol worship; hence, Christ-followers were to relinquish their right to consume food offered to idols. In the light of this background, in which the imperial cult had a marked influence, it is considered that Paul also counselled Christ-followers not to obtain manumission even if they were legally eligible. Finally, the study explains this reading of 1 Cor. 7:21 in relation to the immediate context of the passage.
Supervisor: Finney, Mark Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available