This study traces the discursive links between early Christian oikonomia, pastoral governmentality and slave-management in the Deutero-Pauline and Petrine haustafeln. It especially utilises the concepts of discipline, surveillance and governmentality as extrapolated by Michel Foucault. The Colossian and Ephesian household codes are approached as social contracts, in which certain liberties are given up for the sake of identity and group cohesion. Slaves should render obedience to masters. From this, the codes exhibit a strict hierarchical system, one that is authorised by a potent Christic panopticism. From the Pastoral Epistles the development of Christian pastoral governmentality, or pastoralism, is clearly seen, and with this, a culture of psychagogy related to slave-management. Slaves become the objects of normalization, which assumes a general delinquency of slaves. Finally, the unique stance of the Petrine codes admonishes slaves to embrace unjust suffering as a Christomorphic process; this promotion of suffering as slaves of God would pervade the very essence of Christian virtue discourse.
This study is based, in part, on my doctoral thesis entitled: ‘Slavery in John Chrysostom’s Homilies on the Pauline Epistles and Hebrews: A Cultural-Historical Analysis’, done under supervision of Prof. Hendrik F. Stander, Department of Ancient Languages, University of Pretoria, 2012.