Slavery (Greco-Roman): artical assigned for

Slavery (Greco-Roman): artical assigned for New Testament, probably from the New Interpretors Dictionary vol. VI, pp65-67, or some such thing.
“…Among a variety of institutions for maintaining dominance and dependence characteristic of the early Roman Empire was an especially important form of compulsory labor in which part of the population legally owned other human beings as property; it was practiced in all cultures relevant to the writing of the documents of the New Testament. dio Chrysostom, a popular orator in the 1st century C.E., spoke for the Mediterranean consensus when he defined slavery as the right to use another man at pleasure, like a piece of property or a domestic animal (XV.24).
“Yet it must be stressed that for the most part knowledge of slavery as practiced in the New World in the 17th-19th centuries has hindered more than helped achieving an appropriate, historical understanding of social-economic life in the Mediterranean world of the 1st century, knowledge which is absolutely essential for a sound exegesis of those NT texts dealing with slaves and their owners or using slavery-related metaphors. For example, in contact to the Authorized Version’s translation of the Greek term doulos as ‘servant,’ the word ‘slave’ should be used in order to stress the legally regulated subordination of the person in slavery. Yet in contrast to present connotations of the term ‘slave’ resulting from the special racial, economic, educational, and political practices characteristic of slavery in the New World, the slaves and slavery mentioned in NT texts must be defined strictly in terms of the profoundly different legal-social contexts of the 1st century.
“Central features that distinguish 1st century slavery from that later practiced in the New World are the following: racial factors played no role; education was greatly encourages (some slavers were better educated than their owners) and enhanced a slave’s value; many slaves carried out sensitive and highly responsible social functions; slaves could own property (including other slaves!); their religious and cultural traditions were the same as those of the freeborn; no laws prohibited public assembly of slaves; and (perhaps above all) the majority of urban and domestic slaves could legitimately anticipate being emancipated by the age of 30.
“…And sufficient differences existed among the three traditions (Jewish, Greek, and Roman) relevant to NT texts to require that serious students investigate the specific legal-social-philosophical background of each NT passage.
“For example, the Greek tradition tended to regard an enslaved person as inferior by nature and thus fortunate to have a Greek master (Herodotus, Plato, Aristotle, echoed by Cicero), and to view human freedom as divisible into parts. The Jewish tradition, despite the practice of debt-slavery and the use of slaves even in the Jerusalem Temple, tended to regard any enslavement of Jews by Jews as improper because every Jew had already become exclusively a ‘slave of God’ by means of the liberation of his or her ancestors from Egyptian bondage (Lev. 25:55). In the Roman tradition, slaves on the one hand were rigorously regarded in much legislation as things (instrumentum vocale – a ‘speaking tool’), yet on the other hand they were regularly treated as well as free human beings and were normally granted Roman citizenship when set free, as happened regularly. For this reason, it has been argued that urban and domestic enslavement under Roman law is best understood as a process rather than a permanent condition, as process of social integration of outsiders (Wiedemann 1981: 3).
“Although slavery was practiced in most (but not all)cultures from as far back as records have been found, ancient Greece and Rom are two of only five societies in world history which seem to have been based on slavery.
“Thus whereas there is no justification for referring to 1st century Jewish society as a ‘slave economy,’ this is an entirely appropriate designation for the Greco-Roman world in general. The leisure used by the Greeks to create their extraordinary cultural achievements has been made possible for the most part by the surplus taken from the work of a large number of slaves (Ste. Croix 1981; 133-73).
How did a person become a slave? “prisoners of war and people kidnapped by pirates provided the Mediterranean world with the vast majority of its slaves. By the 1st century C.E., however, the children of women in slavery had become the primary source of slaves… This prolific source was supplemented by self-sale, the sale of freeborn children, the raising of foundlings, and debt-bondage.
“It is highly likely that the ‘synagogue of the freedmen’ mentioned in Acts 6:9 had been founded by such Jewish freedmen who had returned to Jerusalem.
“Large numbers of people sold themselves into slavery for various reasons, e.g., to pay debts, to clime socially (Roman citizenship was conventionally bestowed on a slave released by a Roman owner), to obtain special jobs, and above all to enter a life that was more secure and less strenuous than existence as a poor, freeborn person.
“The practice of self-sale into slavery is the most likely context for understanding Paul’s admonition to the Corinthian Christians: ‘You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men (I Cor 7:23), even if his emphasis was primarily metaphorical. Knowledge of such self-sales provides the necessary background for appreciating the commitment of those Roman Christians who exploited the system by selling themselves into slavery in order to gain money to ransom others (apparently having worse owners) from slavery and to provide food for others (I Clem. 55:2).