Schiavitù e paleocristianesimo: un rapporto ambivalente


  • Elisabeth Herrmann-Otto


Slavery and Early Christianity: an ambivalent relationship.

Early Christianity had no problem with slavery. In this point of view itwas quite similar to the rest of the ancient world. Confronted to parusiathe apostle Paul ordered to stay in the position in which everyone was,when called to Christendom. When the Lord would return, then all social,religious and sexual differences would disappear and all men would betotally equal, brothers and sisters in Christ. In three different key sentencesPaul explained his opinion about slavery and how marginal it was,since this world would come to a sudden end.But when parusia procrastinated, bishops and clerics, the successors of theapostles, did not adopt the orders of Paul to the new social reality. So thePauline order of not changing each own status, marginalized slavery in thereal world, although it did not come to a quick end. Instead of being equalin Christ, slaves were obliged to total obedience and to bear all injustice oftheir lords as just penitence for sin. So it happened that for nearly two thousandyears Christianity and slavery remained compatible. Manumissionand abolition were postponed to a long distant future, in Heaven.