Slavery, women, and the gender debate
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SubjectWebb, William J., 1957- Slaves, women and homosexuals
Bible -- Hermeneutics
Sex role -- Religious aspects -- Christianity
Slavery in the Bible
Women in the Bible
Christianity and culture
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This dissertation examines the exegetical and hermeneutical questions related to the issues of slavery and women in the New Testament. In response to a redemptive movement hermeneutic (or trajectory hermeneutic), I seek to demonstrate that this approach is not a viable solution to these complex questions and is not justified in its conclusions with regard to the gender debate. Chapter 2 begins with a summary of the history of research related to a redemptive movement hermeneutic. Also included in this chapter is a brief discussion of complementarian responses to this hermeneutic, and finally a section on the nineteenth century slavery debate. Then chapters 3 and 4 examine the specific passages that pertain to slaves (chap. 3) and women (chap. 4). The detailed exegesis of these passages is a crucial component as this study clarifies the similarities and differences between the two sets of passages by examining the ground clauses and purpose clauses that are attached to the various instructions to slaves and to women. The other significant component of this study is hermeneutical. The exegesis is crucial to clearly demonstrate the similarities and differences between the texts, but the hermeneutical questions are the determining factor in this debate. Much of the hermeneutical discussion will involve responses to William Webb, because his book and articles contain the fullest expression of a redemptive movement hermeneutic. Other trajectory advocates enter the discussion at various points, but the structure of chapters 6 and 7 are organized around eight of Webb's hermeneutical criteria that he presents in Slaves, Women and Homosexuals . The thesis of this dissertation is as follows: The significant differences between the New Testament instructions to slaves and to women seriously undermine the conclusions made by the redemptive movement hermeneutic. The fact that the New Testament "points beyond" the institution of slavery does not indicate that it likewise points beyond God's design for gender roles.