Philemon and Onesimus as patron and client in the ancient Mediterranean: an economic reading of the letter of Philemon in the South African context.
Tiroyabone, Obusitswe Kingsley
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The letter of Philemon has throughout the history of interpretation been read as the story of a slave that ran away from his master, met Paul in prison and was now being sent back to his master after his conversion, bearing with him a letter that pleaded for his forgiveness. The history of interpretation is however not clear as to what happened between the slave and his master. Exploring the ancient socio-economic world of the Mediterranean, this thesis explores what Paul actually wanted Philemon to do, what likely happened between Philemon and Onesimus, and the implications of such action for the postcolonial reader. The paper explores a number of possibilities for interpretation during the postcolonial era and asks how an economic hermeneutic may be applied in studying biblical texts.