Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

‘Thanks, but no Thanks’: Tact, Persuasion, and the Negotiation of Power in Paul's Letter to Philemon*

  • Scott S. Elliott (a1)

Historical reconstructions concerning Philemon consistently illustrate an overwhelming tendency to see Paul as operating with the most innocuous and transparent of motives. In contrast, my (mildly playful) reading of Philemon posits a Paul engaged in power negotiations with his addressee. Though Philemon acts as Paul's would-be patron, Paul resists the gesture and opts instead to assign Philemon a carefully proscribed role vis-à-vis himself. Paul relies on rhetorical techniques of tact to coerce Philemon to adopt this role ‘voluntarily’. Onesimus emerges, then, as a pawn in a negotiation for power and status in the community.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

T. Nicklas , ‘The Letter to Philemon: A Discussion with J. Albert Harrill’, Paul's World (ed. S. E. Porter ; Leiden: Brill, 2008) 201–19

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

New Testament Studies
  • ISSN: 0028-6885
  • EISSN: 1469-8145
  • URL: /core/journals/new-testament-studies
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 2
Total number of PDF views: 69 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 166 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 21st August 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.