Social Aspects of the Pauline World
by Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.

Introduction: Old vs. New Methods of Doing "History"
Some Aspects of the "Social Situation" of the "Pauline World"

A. Paul's "Citizenship"

B. Churches & Households

C. Slavery in the Roman Empire - Slavery in the 1st century Mediterranean was very different from slavery in 19th century America:

D. Travel & Mail

E. Courts & Trials, Prisons & Prisoners - The ancient judicial system was completely different from today's in several different respects:

"So What?" - Sample Application: Interpreting Paul's Letter to Philemon

Old Interpretation:
Onesimus is a "runaway slave" who had stolen something from his master Philemon.  Onesimus meets Paul in prison, and becomes a Christian. Then Paul sends Onesimus back to his master, pleading for Philemon to show mercy and not to punish him too harshly.

New Interpretation:
Onesimus is a slave sent by Philemon to help care for Paul in prison.  Paul converts him to Christianity, and wants him to stay with him and become his missionary associate.  So Paul carefully asks Philemon to do him this great favor and free Onesimus.

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