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When Rhoda Opens the Door: Reimagining Ancient Households from the Perspective of the Least for the Least

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When Rhoda Opens the Door: Reimagining Ancient Households from the Perspective of the Least for the Least

When Rhoda Opens the Door:
Reimagining Ancient Households from the
Perspective of the Least for the Least
Batanayi I. Manyika
South African Theological Seminary1
and
Elna Mouton
Stellenbosch University2
1 Batanayi I. Manyika recently completed a Ph.D. in NT with focus on Paul’s letter to Philemon.
His dissertation is titled: Philemon: A Transformation of Social Orders.” He is an academic at the
South African Theological Seminary (SATS).
2 Elna Mouton is professor emerita in NT at Stellenbosch University, South Africa.
Neotestamentica 53.2 (2019) 311337
© New Testament Society of Southern Africa
Abstract
This article brings first-century Graeco-Roman slavery, ancient
household systems and gender into focus through an analysis of Acts
12:12–17. By retracing Rhoda’s social location and efficacy in Mary’s
οἰκία, the παιδίσκη is brought to the fore in a hermeneutical agenda that
seeks to unmute utility from the interpretive margins. Using a sociology
of knowledge, Rhoda’s profile in the ancient world is painted in vivid
vogue, demonstrating the social maze she had to navigate for her to be.
From here, the slave’s social performance is considered in the same
context as her unrelenting herald of Peter’s emancipation. From this
position, a critical correlation is drawn between the Rhoda of the text
and Southern African Rhodas in front of the text with the hope of
reimagining ancient households. Finally, it is posited that hearing the
narratives of both categories of “Rhodas” enlivens the text, unmuting
the slaves occupying the margins to the benefit of contemporary groups
shaped by this tradition.
Key Terms
Graeco-Roman slavery; Haustafeln; running slaves; Southern Africa;
Acts; Rhoda
Article
This article provides an overview of feminist approaches to the New Testament from the period of 2000 to early 2021. Using a broad definition of ‘feminist’ (to include virtually any work focused primarily on women or female issues presented in the biblical text) and a more stringent definition of ‘New Testament’ (including only those texts that are a part of the New Testament canon, but not larger socio-historical studies or extracanonical literature), the article offers an overview of trends in feminist scholarship on the Gospels and Acts, the Pauline epistles, the General Epistles and Hebrews, and Revelation, noting that this body of scholarship may be characterized as being diverse, collaborative, and centered on female characters within the New Testament texts. With open vistas for exploration remaining, the article forecasts a rich future for feminist approaches to the New Testament.
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