Re: doulos

From: Charles Skallerud (
Date: Sun Apr 09 2000 - 20:41:07 EDT

<x-charset iso-8859-1>I am not surprised that Carl comes up with the best counter-argument. This
OT angle is a problem, but I still think the context of Paul's writing is
best reflected by 'slave.' To my mind 'servant' has an air of Victorian
domesticity which is a million miles from Paul. On the other hand, since
guys like Carl Conrad and Bruce Metzger think otherwise I better check my

----- Original Message -----
From: "Carl W. Conrad" <>
To: "Charles Skallerud" <>
Cc: "Biblical Greek" <>
Sent: Sunday, April 09, 2000 4:56 PM
Subject: Re: doulos

> At 1:05 PM -0500 4/9/00, Charles Skallerud wrote:
> >I was reading the NET Bible version of Colossians this morning. I was
> >generally impressed with the careful notes beloved of all bookworms.
> >this confounded doulos got in the way. Why translate sundoulos as
> >fellow-servant in chapter 1 and doulos as slave in chapters 3 and 4?
> >will not do. Most translations go this route, but I consider it a major,
> >intolerable linguistic error. We miss the whole drift of Paul's thought
> >we pretty it up this way. To my mind it must be slave throughout. I
> >this is an old debate but it is still timely. It astounds me that new
> >translations persist in this genteel double-talk. Paul was not afraid of
> >his words. Why should we be afraid of translating them?
> I'd have to disagree with this, at least to the extent that I think an OT
> theme has come into play in NT usage: the exodus/covenant-making sequence
> is understood as the passage of Israel from involuntary servitude (ABODAH)
> to a human master--Pharaoh--to voluntary service to YHWH, and I think the
> same play upon the double sense of EBHEDH is present in NT usage of
> In liturgical language, the paradox is expressed in the clause descriptive
> of the nature of one who is a DOULOS IHSOU CRISTOU: "whose service is
> perfect freedom."
> If we are going to be consistent and translate DOULOS always as "slave" in
> the NT, then I suppose we ought to be consistent in translation of the OT
> word as well and change our parlance about the figure described in those
> traditionally-termed "Servant" poems of Deutero-Isaiah; we should speak
> rather of the "Suffering Slave."
> --
> Carl W. Conrad
> Department of Classics/Washington University
> One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
> Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649
> WWW:

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