Addressing the topic “slavery and Early Christianity” is a difficult task for various
reasons. First, it is complex to reach an understanding of slavery of that time.
Secondly, there is the hermeneutic challenge of approaching the issue with a
current mind-set that includes the notion of the abolition of slavery. Furthermore,
from a contemporary perspective, a critical account of slavery and Early Christianity
is possible, with the temporal distance protecting one from the consequences
linked to a judgement about slavery. Finally, there is the hermeneutic challenge of
engaging with texts from Early Christianity from an ethical perspective in order to
reach present-day normative propositions, while respecting the original intention
of the texts. In light of these challenges, this article will offer a brief overview of
opinions on slavery in Hellenistic philosophy and in the Jewish tradition, and then
discuss slavery and Early Christianity, followed by a reflection on slavery and Early
Christianity from a human rights perspective.