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HTS Theological Studies

versión On-line ISSN 2072-8050
versión impresa ISSN 0259-9422


IGBOIN, Benson O.. How amazing is 'amazing grace'? A radical re-reading of Philemon from an African perspective. Herv. teol. stud. [online]. 2024, vol.80, n.2, pp.1-8. ISSN 2072-8050.

Many experts have argued in their commentaries on the book of Philemon that Paul courageously used his age and apostolic imprimatur to forge a Christian reconsideration, reconciliation, and restitution of the status and identity of Onesimus with his master, Philemon. Although Paul wanted Onesimus to return to Philemon and be accepted as a brother-in-Christ rather than slave-to-master-in-Christ, it is unclear how Onesimus' and Philemon's new statuses would affect their newly reconciled social, political, and existential relations. If Philemon accepted Onesimus as he would accept Paul, Onesimus would definitely have had a higher status than Philemon, which is logically contradictory to the contract between slaves and their masters at that time and sometimes even in today's Christian world. CONTRIBUTION: The article argued that Paul was not radical enough in the appropriation of his apostolic grace that formed the fulcrum of his appeal to Philemon to receive Onesimus back into an enhanced slave status - this time in Christ. Rather, the article suggests that Paul would have used that leverage to untangle the identity, socio-political, and relational fissures embedded in slavery, which have been used as theological excuse to deal with Africans as slaves, by not returning Onesimus to Philemon in accordance with Deuteronomy 23:15-16.

Palabras clave : Onesimus; slavery; Philemon; grace; Paul; Christian; ubuntu freedom.

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