The Slavery Metaphor as Powerful Thinking Tool: Slavery Parables in Early Christianity and Early Rabbinic Judaism

  • Martijn Stoutjesdijk (Speaker)

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talkScientific


    In many studies it has been shown that slavery was ‘good to think with’ in Antiquity (cf. Harrill, 2005: 59). In Early Christianity and Early Rabbinic Judaism slavery turned out to be an important concept too, that often was used as a metaphor to designate the relation between God and man. Recently Chris L. de Wet even coined a term, doulology, for this use of the discourse of slavery in Early Christian communities (De Wet, 2018: 8). However, the study of slavery parables as a separate corpus has not received much scholarly attention; especially studies that compare Rabbinic and Christian slavery parables are lacking (cf. Hezser, 2006). In this paper, which is the result of a PhD project on slavery in Early Rabbinic and Early Christian parables, the frequent use of slavery parables in Early Rabbinic and Early Christian literature will be described and dominant themes and motifs within the parables of each tradition will be discussed and compared. Also, the question will be asked how the slavery parables relate to other ancient genres in which slaves regularly played important roles, like novels, comedies and fables. Finally, this paper aims to show what slavery parables can teach us about the social location of parables: Is the presence of slaves in parables also a sign of the presence of slaves in the audience of the parable teller? And do slavery parables contain a hidden transcript (Scott 1990)?
    Period26 Jun 2019
    Event titlePower of Parables: Narrating Religion in Late Antiquity
    Event typeConference
    LocationUtrecht, NetherlandsShow on map


    • Slavery
    • Parables
    • Early Christianity
    • Early Rabbinic Judaism
    • Folk Literature
    • Fables
    • Hidden Transcript