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Luke 12:45-48 uses the word "servants". What kind of servants get beaten up by their master?

That looks a lot like slaves to me. We have an English word for that thing. It's called slaves. So why use servants? Servants are employees that got paid. Slaves are properties that got beaten up.

Does the Bible translator bowdlerize the Bible to keep it politically correct?

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What kind of servant gets beaten by his master? Any servant before the 20th century. You are completely looking at this with 20th century eyes and ignoring the historical context. –  DJClayworth May 7 '13 at 13:40
I didn't know about the "before the 20th century" part so I found your question useful. Only a strong historian would know these things. –  Tom Au May 9 '13 at 12:35
Well, still proper translation of the scripture to a 20th century english shouldn't use the word servant. –  Jim Thio May 13 '13 at 10:51

1 Answer 1

The word servant used here is the Greek word doulos (δοῦλος, Strong's G1401). It can mean either a slave, servant, or bond-servant (similar to indentured servant). But in the Roman society of the time there was very little difference between them, since what we now think of as civil rights only applied to Roman citizens. Slave or not, a Roman master had every right to beat their servants simply because the servants were not Roman citizens. So I would argue that:

  • The words slave, servant, and bond-servant are (nearly) interchangeable here, since each would be historically accurate, the only things that change are the modern implications each word carries.
  • The meaning of the verse holds regardless of the English word which the translators chose to use.

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    exactly! no matter what kind of words they use... what's important is how it is described. like "servants" can be beaten up to a pulp by their master as long as they don't die. –  FFCoder May 7 '13 at 8:15
    roman citizen can beat up non roman citizen? –  Jim Thio May 8 '13 at 10:43
    @JimThio : Yes, or at least that's what my Ancient Histories professor said in his lectures on Roman society. –  Walter May 9 '13 at 6:29

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