Insight on Philemon from POxy 1423

Insight on Philemon from POxy 1423 October 23, 2009

I have been thinking about Philemon lately and I was browsing through some documents on the internet and came across a translation of the oxyrhynchus papyri by Grenfell and Hunt (see HERE).  Did Philemon run away having commit some injustice against his master?  Or did he go out to seek mediation for a dispute under appropriate legal guidelines?  Most scholars nowadays lean towards the latter (I think?), but there is some evidence of the commonality of the former.  See this text from POxy. 1423:

‘Flavius Ammonas…to Flavius Dorotheus, officialis, greeting.  I order and depute you to arrest my slave called Magnus, who ran away and is staying at Hermopolis and has carried off certain articles belonging to me, and to bring him as a prisoner together with the head-man of Sesphtha.  This order is valid, and in answer to the formal question I gave my consent.  I, Flavius Ammonas, officialis on the staff of the praefect of Egypt, have made this order.’

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