Click here to get the answers to the most commonly asked RBL questions.

Review of Biblical Literature Blog

The Silencing of Slaves in Early Jewish and Christian Texts
Charles, Ronald

London: Routledge, 2020 pp. xvii + 272. $140.00

Series Information
Routledge Studies in the Early Christian World

Description: The Silencing of Slaves in Early Jewish and Christian Texts analyzes a large corpus of early Christian texts and Pseudepigraphic materials to understand how the authors of these texts used, abused and silenced enslaved characters to articulate their own social, political, and theological visions. The focus is on excavating the texts "from below" or "against the grain" in order to notice the slaves, and in so doing, to problematize and (re)imagine the narratives. Noticing the slaves as literary iterations means paying attention to broader theological, ideological, and rhetorical aims of the texts within which enslaved bodies are constructed. The analysis demonstrates that by silencing slaves and using a rhetoric of violence, the authors of these texts contributed to the construction of myths in which slaves functioned as a useful trope to support the combined power of religion and empire. Thus was created not only the perfect template for the rise and development of a Christian discourse of slavery, but also a rationale for subsequent violence exercised against slave bodies within the Christian Empire. The study demonstrates the value of using the tools and applying the insights of subaltern studies to the study of the Pseudepigrapha and in early Christian texts. This volume will be of interest not only to scholars of early Christianity, but also to those working on the history of slavery and subaltern studies in antiquity.

Subjects: Bible, Early Christian Literature, Literature, Methods, Social-Scientific Approaches, Ideological Critique

Login to Read the Review(s)

You must be a member of SBL to read the review(s). In May 2019, SBL improved security of its main site with a new login procedure that requires an email address and a password, instead of an SBL member number. RBLís login procedure is now synched to SBLís. Please use your email address and SBL password to log in to RBL. Your use of this site indicates your acceptance of RBLís Terms of Use.

Email Address
SBL Password
 Forgot Your Password
 Join SBL or Renew Membership

Review by S. Scott Bartchy
Published 6/18/2020
Citation: S. Scott Bartchy, review of Ronald Charles, The Silencing of Slaves in Early Jewish and Christian Texts, Review of Biblical Literature [] (2020).

Adobe Acrobat Reader
All RBL reviews are published in PDF format. To view these reviews, you must have downloaded and installed the FREE version of Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you do not have the Reader or you have an older version of the Reader, you can download the most recent version now.


Privacy PolicyTerms of UseContact Us