Eschatology In Philemon: An Analysis Of ‘ἅμα Δὲ Καὶ ἑτοίμαζέ Μοι Ξενίαν’ For A Southern African Context -- By: Batanayi I. Manyika

Journal: Conspectus
Volume: CONSPECTUS 25:1 (Mar 2018)
Article: Eschatology In Philemon: An Analysis Of ‘ἅμα Δὲ Καὶ ἑτοίμαζέ Μοι Ξενίαν’ For A Southern African Context
Author: Batanayi I. Manyika


Eschatology In Philemon: An Analysis Of ‘ἅμα Δὲ Καὶ ἑτοίμαζέ Μοι Ξενίαν’ For A Southern African Context

Batanayi I. Manyika

and

Kevin G. Smith

Keywords

Hospitality Social-scientific Criticism Masters and Slaves Patronage and Clientism

About The Authors1

Batanayi I. Manyika

MPhil (Bible Interpretation), University of Stellenbosch. He is an Academic at the South African Theological Seminary, currently working on a PhD in New Testament, with focus on Paul’s letter to Philemon.

Kevin G. Smith

D.Litt, University of Stellenbosch; PhD, SATS. Kevin is the Principal at the South African Theological Seminary.

This article: https://www.sats.edu.za/manyika-smith-eschatology-in-philemon

Abstract

First-century hospitality customs can provide a window through which ancient social identity is observed. When these symbols are analysed against the backdrop of implied eschatology in Philemon, there emerges a composite picture that interweaves theological discourse with first-century cultural norms. Using social-scientific criticism, this paper remaps Philemon’s socio-cultural world, centred on the theme of hospitality. Paul’s rhetorical use of this cultural norm in relation to implied eschatology in the apostolic Parousia, is explicated within Philemon’s and Onesimus’ identity struggles. The implicit change of status for Onesimus, and the honour garnered, forms a departure point for Southern Africa as implications of what was exclusively reserved for social equals are appropriated in a context gripped by chronic social disparity. In this appropriation, unjust legacies are evaluated with an aim of reimagining a context built on equity and justice.

1. Introduction

Southern Africa,2 like the ancient Mediterranean world, is a heavily stratified society with realties that trace anchorage back to imperial and colonial enterprises. It is, therefore, a central claim of this essay that a correlative reading of ἅμα δὲ καὶ ἑτοίμαζέ μοι ξενίαν in Philemon, can provide socially attentive theological answers to a context engulfed by polyvalent social dislocation. Using Philemon’s and Onesimus’s identity transformation, this correlative reading aims to underscore the function of hospitality in both the ancient household and the typical Southern Afric...

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