Bible & Archaeology Fest XXV, October 8 & 9, 2022
Slavery, Archaeology, and the New Testament
The texts of the New Testament are filled with references to slavery. Enslaved persons appear in parables, are minor characters in narratives, and are given instructions as a part of the household. Yet, these texts do not describe the perceptions of slavery in the Greco-Roman world, which prevents our full understanding of these biblical texts. In this presentation, I will turn to the archaeological examples of funerary monuments to provide insight into how people in the Greco-Roman world might have viewed and depicted enslaved persons. Specific focus will be given to enslaved women and their relationships with their female enslavers. To illustrate the ways these monuments can expand our view of texts, I will analyze three biblical passages: the parable of the wicked tenants (Luke 20:9–18), character of Rhoda in Acts 12, and the household codes from the epistles.