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Slavery in the Old Testament and the Heaven-People Thought(天民思想) in the Early Joseon Period

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1계명대학교

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ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study is to shed light on the dualistic views of slavery in the Old Testament from a new perspective by analyzing the dualistic views of slavery in the early Joseon period. The Heaven‐People Thought(天民思想) as appeared in the early Joseon period, a promulgation that slaves are people given by the divinity just as civilians are, formed dualistic views of slaves along with the nobility‐lowlife distinction theory(貴賤之分論), which provided the basis for the class system. The reason why such conflicting views of slavery appeared is because the state‐foundation power in the early Joseon period needed slaves for the improvement of the state. The new king tried to strengthen royal authority and to increase national power by creating a basis for mobilizing and governing slaves. And, based on this line of thought, he prohibited the system of the indebted slaves that accounted for most private slaves, and allowed them to be released after a certain period passed. Though accepting the slavery system, which had been executed conventionally at that time, the Old Testament emphasized human equity in terms of the creation theology and mentioning the Exodus, it made the point that the Israelites should not be taken as the slaves since they were the people of God. Also, as a result of the interpretation of the Manumission Laws, we can find out that the reason for allowing life-long slaves was related to the measures for the lives of the emancipated slaves. Furthermore, the Joseon dynasty protected the slaves based on the heaven‐people thought, and allowed them to receive welfare benefits and to participate in national rituals. Also we can confirm through the interpretation of the Covenant Code that its slavery law paid more attention to the protection of the slaves in Israel than in other countries, and tried to protect them just as it protected the civilians. And, as Joseon emphasized the Heaven‐People Thought for the purpose of the strengthening of royal authority and the enhancement of national power, the philosophy that treated the slaves as the people of God might contribute to the strengthening of royal authority in the Old Testament.

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