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Early Christianity and Women's History

Early Christianity and Women's History. Women of the New Testament, early saints, the teachings about women by the early church fathers, and the status of women in early Christian communities.
  1. Ancient Women's History
  2. Bible and Women's History

Saint Catherine of Alexandria
Profile of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, popular saint in medieval Christianity.

St. Helena, Mother of Constantine
The mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine I, Helena was honored during her lifetime with much land, wealth and property. On a trip to Palestine, she's credited with the beginnings of several major churches in Jerusalem and elsewhere, and also with finding many relics of Jesus, including the True Cross.

Macrina the Elder
Macrina the Elder was the mother and grandmother of saints -- including two of the Cappadocian Fathers.

Macrina the Younger
Macrina the Younger was a sister to the Cappadocian Fathers in the Eastern church, and herself a founder of monastic community.

Melania the Elder
She associated with heretics, so she was largely ignored by history even though she was not herself condemned. Melania the Elder (grandmother of Melania the Younger) founded monasteries and traveled from Spain to Rome to Egypt to Jerusalem, in contact with such leaders as Jerome and Paula and Augustine of Hippo.

Melania the Younger
Better known than her saintly grandmother, she talked her husband into celibacy after their second child died. They gave their immense fortune to found monasteries and do other good works, and left Rome ahead of the Visigoth invasions, going on pilgrimage to and settling in Jerusalem.

Women in Early Christianity
The 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica included a surprisingly feminist entry on the history of women. This entry describes then-current understanding of laws and customs relating to women, including divorce and marriage law, in early Christianity.

About Elaine Pagels
A profile of writer, feminist, and Biblical scholar Elaine Pagels.

Translations of some fragments of her writing, known second-hand. Background information and bibliography, too.

Writing of St. Cyprian of Antioch or her own poetry, this Christian Greek woman wrote during the Roman Empire in the fifth century.

Gospel of Mary Magdalene
Gnostic Christians revered Mary Magdalene as a disciple of Jesus. In this excerpt from their gospel, Mary tells the other disciples of Jesus' words to her in a vision.

Misreadings of Ancient Church Writings on Women
A rebuttal of common interpretations of early Christian writings by men about women, translating and interpreting these common quotes more positively.

Background and bibliography on this Roman Christian convert.

Perpetua and Felicitas
An excerpt from the Diary of Perpetua, an apocryphal book describing her martyrdom (about 202 CE).

A Roman woman who converted to Christianity. Poems in translation, background information, and bibliography.

Sacred Bonding: Mothers and Daughters
Pictures of mother-daughter relationships from early Christianity (Syria), focusing on saints like Sophia and Euphemia.

Excerpts from a translation of the apocryphal Acts of Paul and Thecla. Thecla, with the Apostles, took up missionary work in the first generation of Christianity.

Women in Ancient Christianity: New Discoveries
Supplementing the PBS documentary From Jesus to Christ, these pages detail controversial recent evidence about women's role in the early Christian church.

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