Glancy, Jennifer A. 1960-

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Glancy, Jennifer A. 1960-


Born June 30, 1960. Education: Swarthmore College, B.A.; Columbia University, M.A., Ph.D.


Office—Le Moyne College, 1419 Salt Springs Rd., Syracuse, NY 13214. E-mail—[email protected]


Le Moyne College, Syracuse, NY, professor of religious studies, 1989—; served as Catholic Biblical Association visiting professor, L'Ecole Biblique et Archaeologique Francaise, Jerusalem, Israel.


Society of Biblical Literature (Bible and Cultural Studies section, co-chair).


Louisville Institute, summer stipend, 2005; Catherine McCarthy Memorial Fellowship in Jewish-Christian Relations, 2006-07.


(Coauthor) Introduction to the Study of Religion Orbis (Maryknoll, NY), 1998.

Slavery in Early Christianity, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2002.

Contributor to various publications, including Journal of Biblical Literature, Semeia, and Biblical Interpretation. Serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Biblical Literature and for Biblical Interpretation.


Jennifer A. Glancy graduated from Swarthmore College with a bachelor's degree, then went on to further her studies at Columbia University, earning a master's degree and then a doctorate. A professor of religious studies, she serves on the faculty of Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York, where she joined the department in 1989, and has spent several years running the honors program. She has also spent time teaching at L'Ecole Biblique et Archaeologique Francaise in Jerusalem, where she lectured on the subject of slavery in the New Testament as the Catholic Biblical Association visiting professor. Her primary areas of research and academic interest include the slave-holding practices of the early Christians, as well as their use of bodies for communication. Glancy serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Biblical Literature and Biblical Interpretation. In addition, she is a regular contributor to those periodicals, as well as to Semeia. Glancy is the coauthor of Introduction to the Study of Religion, which was published in 1998, and the author of Slavery in Early Christianity, which was released in 2002.

In Slavery in Early Christianity, Glancy addresses the issue of slavery during the earliest days of Christianity, discussing the prevalence of slaveholders and how the institution both affected the early church and was affected by it in return. The existence of slaves during early Christian times was particularly common in the Roman Empire. As a result, slavery would have been commonplace during the time of Jesus Christ, and there would have been a general understanding amongst the population that people could be bought and traded, their worth calculated merely by the price they could fetch in the local slave market. Human beings could be reduced to chattel. Even the words used to describe a slave were virtually synonymous with the words used for the body, equating a human being with just the corporal form, an item or possession. As a result, the teachings of Jesus, and later those of the early Christian church, would have allowed for this behavior and the existence of the institution. Although the idea of slavery today goes against most people's understanding of Christianity, during this period Christians were clearly slave owners. In addition to that, slaves were treated poorly, considered property to be used, and often sustained injuries, humiliations, and other hardships that could be considered anything but "Christian" in nature. Glancy's assertions create a very different picture of the early Christian church than the one that is traditionally considered.

Beyond looking at the historical facts surrounding the earliest days of Christianity and the ways that Christians considered and treated their slaves, Glancy also addresses the New Testament and the way that it speaks of slaves and their purpose. Citing the parables of Jesus, she shows that slaves were spoken of even in the Bible as property, whose bodies were available for abuse of all kinds. She looks at the church and Pauline communities, considering what roles slaves might have played and how their environments affected them, where slave owners were Christian and yet failed to relate the teachings of Jesus to their own treatment of their fellow human beings. She also questions how the existence of slaveholders in Christian communities ultimately affected the ways in which morality developed within the religion and the church, and whether they affected overall moral standards within not just the social construct of the community but the religious construct as well. The primary values that were passed on were the ones of the slave owners, not the slaves themselves, as the slaves were encouraged to be obedient and lacking original thoughts, and were treated as property in such a way as they were unlikely to either rebel or to even see an alternative life.

Ultimately, Glancy's book provides a clear picture of the treatment and maintenance of slaves during early Christian times, and the extent to which Christians were slaveholders and participated in the cruelty that was perpetuated on these human beings. Her effort received mixed reviews from critics. Henry Chadwick, writing for the English Historical Review, found the book to be "a fairly dry survey." Joseph E. Capizzi, in a review for Theological Studies, remarked of Glancy's effort that "its intentions exceed its accomplishments. The book neither provides an adequate sense of the overall experience of slavery in early Christianity nor convinces that a focus on the sexual aspects of slavery is ultimately most revealing of this peculiar institution." However, Henri L. Goulet, writing for the Trinity Seminary Review, commented that "whatever one's disagreements with Glancy's conclusions, one appreciates her mastery of scholarly interrogation and understanding of the limits of the evidence." William W. Maxwell, in a review for Cross Currents, praised Glancy's work, stating that she "may have written the kind of revelatory monograph that comes along once in a generation."



Catholic Biblical Quarterly, October 1, 2002, J. Albert Harrill, review of Slavery in Early Christianity, p. 758.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, January 1, 2003, R. Goldenberg, review of Slavery in Early Christianity, p. 840.

Church History, June 1, 2006, Harry Gamble, review of Slavery in Early Christianity, p. 412.

Cross Currents, June 22, 2007, William W. Maxwell, "Christians and Slavery," p. 299.

English Historical Review, February 1, 2003, Henry Chadwick, review of Slavery in Early Christianity, p. 165.

Internet Bookwatch, December 1, 2006, review of Slavery in Early Christianity.

Journal of Biblical Literature, December 22, 2003, Shelly Mathews, review of Slavery in Early Christianity, p. 779.

Journal of the American Academy of Religion, December 1, 2005, John G. Nordling, review of Slavery in Early Christianity, p. 1212.

Journal of Theological Studies, October 1, 2003, Dale Martin, review of Slavery in Early Christianity, p. 732.

Theological Studies, December 1, 2003, Joseph E. Capizzi, review of Slavery in Early Christianity, p. 877.

Trinity Seminary Review, winter-spring, 2008, Henri L. Goulet, review of Slavery in Early Christianity.


Brandeis University Web site, (May 22, 2008), faculty profile.

Le Moyne College Web site, (May 22, 2008), faculty profile.