Original Research

Reading Philemon as therapeutic narrative

Pierre J. Jordaan, S. Philip Nolte
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 66, No 1 | a307 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v66i1.307 | © 2010 Pierre J. Jordaan, S. Philip Nolte | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 July 2009 | Published: 29 March 2010

About the author(s)

Pierre J. Jordaan, North-West University, South Africa
S. Philip Nolte, University of Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

This article analysed the different narratives implied in Philemon by utilising the narrative therapeutic approach, as developed by Epston and White (1990). A dominant narrative (the harsh treatment of slaves in the early Christian environment) and a challenging narrative (a more humane conduct of slaves) were clearly distinguished. The article showed Paul’s attempt to bridge the gap between these two narratives by using certain pointers, possibly taken from mystery religions and Jesus’ example. In conclusion, the narrative therapeutic approach proved to be a new and unique way of looking at Philemon’s narrative world.

Keywords

Philemon; narrative therapy; master-slave relations; dominant narrative; Paul

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