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WIVES, MOTHERS AND MARTYRS: EARLY CHRISTIAN WOMEN OUTSIDE THE BIBLE

Saturday 19 October: 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Faculty of Divinity, Runcie Room, Sidgwick Site, West Road, CB3 9BS

St Paul declared that in Christ ‘there is neither male nor female’ (Galatians 3:28), which might be thought to herald a new era of female emancipation amongst adherents of Christianity. There are notable women’s stories outside the New Testament, echoing the prominence of female characters in the popular contemporary genre of the romance. These women fall in love with the gospel (albeit through the medium of the evangelist who brings it to them), often rejecting marriage and family for the sake of their new faith, and they are martyred alongside male Christians. This session will consider two women’s stories: Perpetua’s, a rare example of (possibly) a first person account of a woman’s sufferings during martyrdom in 2nd century north Africa; and the highly fictionalised account of Thecla, who survives two execution attempts to become a lone evangelist in Turkey. We will see how the tale of Thecla in particular is also transmitted visually through early frescoes.
But just how much change do we see in attitudes to women in these narratives - subjects of their own narrative, but also objects of violence? We will consider how these stories show both continuity and discontinuity in the place of women within early Christian communities.

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Telephone number:
01223 766766

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Age: 16+, Talk, Free

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