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In this study, grounded in socio-rhetorical methodology, Valentine explores the notion that the Greek and Latin discourses of self-control over sexual desire undergird Paul’s instructions regarding celibacy, marriage, circumcision, and slavery. The focal pericope, one that has been the subject of Christian interpretive debate for millennia, is 1 Cor 7:21–24. These verses have garnered so much attention among interpreters because they may be viewed both as encouraging slaves to become freed or as keeping slaves in a state of enslavement. The consequences of one’s interpretation of these verses, then, cannot be taken lightly. Valentine argues that Paul suggested freedom for slaves so that they could avoid sexual fornication and thereby better live according to their Christian calling. Amassing evidence from ancient discourses on self-control along with examples of Corinth's material culture, she demonstrates that Paul and the Corinthians perceived the risks and rewards of promoting freedom for slaves.

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  • Katy E. Valentine studied Sociology and Christian Education at Centenary College of Louisiana (B.S.) and New Testament at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary (MDiv.). She earned her Ph.D. from the Graduate Theological Union (Berkeley). She is currently serving as an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Northern California-Nevada.