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Posts Tagged ‘Early Christianity’

For the last few months, we have been looking at the stories of women in the Bible from both the Old and New Testaments. We were working in chronological order – Eve (Genesis) to Junias (Romans). In the first century, Paul’s female companions helped to spread the gospel in response to Christ’s command in the Great Commission to carry the good news to the ends of the earth. They did this in spite of the persecution that had already begun against Christians during the first century and continued for several more centuries.

 

Let’s continue now with women in history as we turn to the second century. Let’s face it. History is really boring. All those names and dates and places we can’t find on a map. And what do all those ancient people have to do with me anyway?

 

For starters, pretty much all of the historical women who are featured on this blog, mylordkatie.wordpress.com, are in Heaven enjoying the presence of the Lord. We will get to speak to them and find out more about their lives when we get there. The stories of their lives give us a better view of the world and history and we are able to see how and why God called these women into His kingdom. At the time these women were living they probably never thought that someday people would be studying about them in history books. They just worshipped and served God with their lives as faithfully as they could.

 

Probably some of the least remembered women in history come from the Patristic Age of the Church (2nd through 5th centuries). This is partly because so many records have been lost. But there is a wealth of information available now and more being discovered every year. These documents not only include the biographies of the women themselves, but many previously unpublished manuscripts that these women authored are coming to light.

 

Unfortunately, the women’s stories have sometimes been overlooked deliberately by Church historians because they do not think that the women’s stories are important. Thankfully, that problem is being remedied. At the end of this introductory post, I will list several books that you can read to find out more about the many hundreds of women who served Christ during the Patristic era. You will see evidence that God has always called and gifted women to serve Him in remarkable ways.

 

The Patristic Age covers roughly from the second through fifth centuries. Over the next few weeks stories of women like Thecla, Blandina, Perpetua, Pulcheria, Paula, Melania and Melania the Younger (both grandmother and granddaughter!), Monica, Egeria, Amma Sarah and many, many more will be told.

 

Some of these women were born poor, others renounced great wealth to follow in the steps of Christ. Martyrs, Mothers, Theologians, Writers, Queens, Empresses, Pilgrims, and Monastery founders are among them. The world would not be the same without the influence of these women. They showed great piety, fortitude, and courage.

 

It’s time to recount the inspiring stories of these women.

 

Further Reading:

 

– The following four books contain the stories of women throughout the centuries. Dr. Curtis’s book is organized by category – Leaders, Homemakers, Martyrs, Intellectuals, Queens, Handicapped, “Firsts”, and Mothers. The other 3 books tell the stories in chronological order.

 

Curtis, A. Kenneth and Graves, Daniel, editors. Great Women in Christian History: 37 Women Who Changed Their World (Camp Hill, PA: Wing Spread Publishers, 2004).

 

Deen, Edith. Great Women of the Christian Faith: Inspiring Biographies of Outstanding Women through Nineteen Centuries of Christianity(Chappaqua, NY: 1959).

 

Kavanagh, Julia.Women of Christianity, Exemplary for Acts of Piety and Charity(New York, NY: D. Appleton and Company, 1869). (My copy is a facsimile.)

 

Tucker, Ruth A. and Liefeld, Walter. Daughters of the Church: Women and Ministry from New Testament Times to the Present(Grand Rapids, MI: 1987).

 

–  The next three books contain much information about the history of the Patristic era. What was it like to live in the 2nd through 5th centuries? For example, life for Christians changed a great deal after Constantine declared Christianity a legal religion in the early 4th century. Persecution ended and many Christians were able to travel, participate in government, and receive education. This included women who had many freedoms that they did not have before.

 

Cohick, Lynn H. and Hughes, Amy Brown. Christian Women in the Patristic World: Their Influence, Authority, and Legacy in the Second through Fifth Centuries (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2017).

 

Cooper, Kate. Band of Angels: The Forgotten World of Early Christian Women(New York, NY: The Overlook Press, 2013).

 

Oden, Amy, editor. Women’s Writings in the History of Christian Thought(Nashville, TN: Abington Press, 1994).

 

 

 

 

 

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