Women in Christianity
Women had an ambiguous citizenship status in the ancient Mediterranean: while not considered politically-active citizens (meaning, for instance, non-voters and not allowed participation in the military), they gave birth to citizens, cemented alliances, and facilitated the passing of family name and property. Throughout Classical Antiquity, in both Greek and Roman civilizations, women were defined by their belonging to a family – they were always daughters, sisters, wives, and mothers of men, rather than individuals in their own right. Indeed, traditional Roman naming practices did not allow women a name of their own, but rather gave them a feminine version of the family name – e.g., the daughter of someone named Claudius would be named Claudia. Multiple daughters would then be numbered – e.g., Claudia Prima (the first), Claudia Secunda (the second), etc. Early Christianity, however, while valuing traditional women’s roles as wives and mothers, also allows us a glimpse of newfound freedoms that women could claim, rejecting the societal expectations.
For this essay, you will read the Passion of Perpetua and Felicity, a portion of which was written by Perpetua herself. Also, you will read selections from Paul’s Epistles, which address specifically women’s roles in the church.
Passion of Perpetua and Felicity:
Selections from Paul’s Epistles:
View the selections listed below:
1 Corinthians 11: 2-6
1 Corinthians 14: 34-35
1 Timothy 2: 8-15
1 Timothy 5: 1-16
Philippians 4: 1-3
Based on these texts and course materials only, what were the roles that women could take in the early church? What were the expectations for women in different stages of life? In what ways were women able to lead and serve their communities? Last but not least, in what ways did their participation in early Christianity reject or challenge the roles traditionally expected of them in Greco-Roman society?
Please make sure that your essay has a clear
introduction with a thesis statement/argument,
body paragraphs that use specific examples to prove aspects of your thesis statement, and a conclusion that considers the big-picture implications of your argument for the history of ancient civilizations.
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