This following thought from my research and draft (so far) was affirmed by a book review on the issue of slavery that I recently read (I haven't read the book yet)—one of my initial conclusions: despite our desire that Jesus, Paul, and other NT writers would have simply announced the evil of slavery (which they did not, at least in a clear way we modern, progressive Americans could appreciate), we need to understand that Jesus et al. were after something higher, more significant. Wisdom, I believe, had actually prevailed in their approach.
In essence, NT writers make us see and recognize slaves and other marginalized people as human beings. This, along with making children and women into human beings (which they all had always been, but you know what I mean), is what changed everything, unhinged an empire, and, as a result, the gospel-cross-shadow (this approach and paradigm modeled by Jesus and the NT writers) through household churches, then, caste itself the gospel moved demographically and geographically into the Gentile world, especially into the Roman Empire.
This should be what the church is about: declaring, making, advocating, accepting, welcoming others, especially the marginal, the oppressed, and disenfranchised into and as human beings. This is what the early church’s Holy Kiss, household baptisms, open tables (i.e., the banquet-meal and Lord’s Supper), and the horizontal nature of Christian gatherings did, subverting oppression and slavery that had been stamped and framed by an Empire built to affirm vertical social status and religious and civil power.
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