TTh 10:00-11:30, Gest 101
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Gender In Early Christianity
The Morning of the
Sir Edward Burne-Jones
Syllabus and Course Information
Description: An examination
of the representation of women and gender in the New Testament and other
early Christian texts, with attention to their historical and contemporary
significance. In this course we'll employ a variety of methods (feminist,
literary, historical, socio-cultural, theological) to explore the
variety of early Christian views of women and gender, as well as
their effects on the lives of women. A special focus for Fall 2012
will be the varying representations of 3 female figures who have
played important and varied symbolic roles in the history of the
Christian tradition: Eve, the 'mother of the living' (Genesis 2-3);
Mary, the mother of Jesus; and Mary Magdalene, female disciple and
witness. We will also work on the lives and representation of historical
women who lived from the second through fourth centuries CE (common
reading of all assigned texts, weekly Moodle postings, and
participation in class discussion (25%).
- This is not a lecture course. All
students are expected to come to class ready to participate in
the class will post a 2-3 paragraph analysis of
some aspect of the reading for class by 9 p.m. the Monday night
before every Tuesday class; the other half will post by 9 p.m.
the Wednesday night before Thursday's class, starting the second
week of the semester.
postings should offer close analysis of a particular passage
in the primary
source readings assigned for class, or they should raise
critical questions about secondary sources (the writings of contemporary
scholars). Students who have written for class may be asked to
share an observation or a question about the material for class
discussion. All students are expected
to read the postings for both Tuesday and Thursday before class.
Essays of 5-6 pages each (45%).
for Essay 1 [updated
and now available]
for Essay 2 [updated and now available]
- A third
essay to be linked to your final research paper. This essay should
offer a critical review of some of the scholarship on your topic.
final research paper of 12-15 pages (30%). Proposals due
in class (date tba). Annotated bibliography and outline due; a
5-page draft due the last week of class.
- Ross Kraemer
and Mary Rose D'Angelo, Women and Christian Origins
Cox Miller, Women in Early Christianity
- Karen L.
King, The Gospel of Mary of Magdala.
White, Lives of Roman Christian Women.
New Revised Standard Version.
Readings will be available at the web site or in class.
SYLLABUS OF READINGS
I. Women and Gender in the New
Testament: The Gospels and Letters of Paul
Cultural and Social Contexts of Early Christianity
T, 9/4 & Th
9/6 Introduction to the Course: Women and Gender in Early Christianity
and in Contemporary Scholarship; Interpretations of Genesis; The Cultural
and Social Contexts of Early Christianity
Week of 9/4-6
- Handout, first
in Christian Origins (WCO), 3-10
- First reading
of The Gospel of Mark 1-8
Fiorenza, "Remembering the Past in Creating the Future," Bread
Not Stone, Part
- Topics for
the interpretations of Genesis 1-3 in the Handout for the first class.
How does each interpreter read the account of human creation in Genesis
1:26-27 and its relation to the account of the creation of Adam and
Eve in Genesis 2?
the issues and debates in early Christian studies discussed by Kraemer/D'Angelo.
Which of these seem most relevant to the issues you want to see discussed
in the course?
closely the references to women in the Gospel of Mark. How are these
women characterized? What roles do they play? How does their representation
and/or characterization in GMark relate to the gospel's characterization
of the male disciples of Jesus (the 12 and others.
Interpreting Stories about Women in the Gospel of Mark; Gender, Characterization,
and Narrative Themes as Categories of Analysis
the week of 9/11-13: The Gospel of Mark
- T, 9/11
Reimagining the Jesus Movement and Stories about Women in the Gospel
of Mark 1-8
- Gospel of Mark,
focus on chapters 1-8 [please bring a copy of the text to class]
- I prefer you
have your own copy of the Bible, with the New Testament. If you do not,
GMark and all biblical
texts, can be found online at multiple websites.
Bible, Biola.edu, is a good choice. You can select from various
translations, but please use the NRSV (New Revised Standard Version).
- Ross Kraemer, "Jewish Women and Christian Origins: Some Caveats," WCO,
- E. S. Fiorenza,
Jesus Movement as a Renewal Movement within Judaism," In
Memory of Her,
105-130 [pdf linked here]
for Discussion and Postings on Moodle for Tuesday's class:
Fiorenza's reconstruction of the Jesus movement, especially with
respect to her understanding of Jesus' proclamation of the Kingdom
(basiliea). What would it mean for a woman or a man to follow
Jesus as a disciple and his proclamation, according to Fiorenza?
How similar is Mark's presentation of Kingdom and discipleship
to Fiorenza's? How are they different?
for example, stories about such apparent 'insiders' as Jesus'
family (Mark 3:31-35) and the disciples (Mark 4 and throughout)
in relation to stories about apparent outsiders, such as the
women with the flow of blood (Mark 5:25-43) and the Syrophoenician
one or more of the stories about women in GMark 1-8 in relation
to the category of gender. In what ways do these stories reflect,
reinforce, challenge, or subvert traditional constructions of
male and female difference?
- Th, 9/13:
Stories about Women in the Gospel of Mark 1-16
- Reread the
entire Gospel of Mark; note the difference between the 'original' ending
of Mark at 16:8 and the longer ending (16:9-20)
- Mary Rose D'Angelo, "(Re)Presentations
of Women in the Gospels: John and Mark," WCO, 129-149 (Focus on
her discussion of GMark
- Thurston, WNT,
for Discussion and Postings on Moodle for Thursday's class:
- Reread the
entire Gospel of Mark closely with careful attention to the gospel's
depiction of the disciples of Jesus and of the women who interact with
him. Compare the disciples' failure to 'hear' and 'understand' Jesus
(Mk 4:10-13, 4:40-41; 6:17-29; 6:47-52; 8:14-21, 8:31-33; 9:30-35;
10:32-37, etc.) with the responses of various women depicted in the
text - from the women with the flow of blood and the .Syrophoenician
woman to the woman who anoints Jesus at Bethany (14:3-9), and the women
at the cross and the empty tomb (15:40-16:8).
the stories about women, the disciples, the family of Jesus,
and other social groups in GMk in relation to the larger themes emerging
in the gospel - e.g., the "good news [gospel] of the Kingdom of God," the
identity of Jesus, and various tensions, e.g., between secrecy/hiddenness
and openness/revelation; between faith/understanding
and unfaith/misunderstanding; and between insiders and outsiders? How
are we to read the stories about women in GMk 1-6 in relation to these
themes and tensions in the text?
- Choose one
story and develop your own interpretation or retelling of the story
to share with the class.
Stories about Women in the Gospel of Luke-Acts: Luke's Depiction of
Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Women in the Early Church
week of 9/18-20: The Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles
Mary Rose D'Angelo, "Reconstructing
'Real' Women from Gospel Literature: The Case of Mary Magdalene," WCO, 105-28
Recommended for further reading:
Commentaries on Luke in The Women's Bible Commentary and Searching the Scriptures.
Vol. II (r).
- The Gospel of Luke - focus on passages
listed below, esp. Lk 1-3, 7:36-8:3; 10:38-42, 11;27-28, and 23:49-24:12.
of GMark and GLuke compared
- D'Angelo, "(Re)Presentations
of Women in the Gospel of Matthew and Luke-Acts," WCO, 171-191 (focus on analysis
- Judith Hallett, "Women's
Lives in the Ancient Mediterranean," Women & Christian Origins (WCO),
- Synoptic Comparison of the Empty Tomb and
for Th, 9/20: Interpreting Stories about Women in the Gospel of Luke:
Focus on Mary Magdalen and the Women at the Empty Tomb
- Topics for
T, 9/18: Women in the Gospel of Luke, First Reading; Focus on Luke's
depiction of Mary the Mother of Jesus:
- Read the Gospel of Luke 1-10 with careful
attention to women who play a role in the narrative and women who
appear in the sayings/parables of Jesus. Compare with GMark. Consider,
for example: Elizabeth, Mary, Anna (Lk 1-3); the woman who anoints
Jesus (Lk 7:36-50); Mary Magdalene and others from Galilee (8:1-3);
Jesus' saying on his mother and brothers (8:19-21) Jairus' daughter
and the hemorrhaging woman (8:40-56); and Mary and Martha (10:38-42).
- Compare closely the context and features
of Mark's story of the anointing woman (Mark 14:3-9) with Luke's
story of the woman who anoints Jesus in Luke 7:36-50.
your reading and analysis of stories and sayings about women in Luke,
with particular attention to the relation between the structure and
themes of Luke (the role of the Holy Spirit; prophecy; repentance and
forgiveness) and its stories about women. Consider: 1) stories about
women (esp. the woman bent over inn 13:10-17 and women at the crucifixion
and the empty tomb in 23:49-24:12) and 2) women/gender in sayings of
Jesus: Jesus' saying on what is blessed (11:27-28); on division in
households (12:49-53); the parable of the lost coin (15:8-10); the
parable of the widow and judge (18:1-8); on marriage and resurrection
(21:27-40); the daughters of Jerusalem (23:27-31).
- Choose one
story and offer a reinterpretation of the story within its literary,
historical, or theological contexts in Luke.
- Use the PDF
documents on the crucifixion, empty tomb and resurrection narratives
in the 4 gospels to analyse more clearly what Luke does with this material.
What do you make of the differences in Luke's version of these stories.
Be especially attentive to the differences between their respective
references to Mary Magdalen (Luke 8 and 24 and parallels).
your reading and analysis of stories and sayings about women in Acts
of the Apostles, with particular attention to the relation between
the structure and themes of the Gospel of Luke (the role of the Holy
Spirit; prophecy; repentance and forgiveness) as well as newly emerging
themes in the Acts of the Apostles. Pay particular attention to the
relative absence of named women in Acts' accounts of the early church
in Jerusalem and in the early missionary movement. Also note the stories
about named women, including the couples: Ananias and Sapphira, Prisca and
Aquila, and also such women as the prophesying daughters of Philip.
What has happened to Mary Magdalene and other 'prominent' women of
IV-VI, 10/25-10/27: Women and Gender in the Communities and Letters
9/25 and Th 9/27: Women in Acts of the Apostles and in the Letters of Paul
for Th, 9/25 Women and Gender in the Pauline Communities; "There
is No Male and Female; For You Are All One in Christ" (Gal. 3:28)
Texts for Week
- Paul's Letters
to the Galatians &
1 Corinthians (focus on chapters 5-7, 11, 14-15); Romans 16 [close
reading for evidence of women]
Chronology of Paul's Life and Letters
- Genesis 1-3; Language
of Genesis 1-3; focus on Genesis 1:26-27
- M. MacDonald, WCO, "Reading
Real Women through the Letters of Paul," 199-218
- E. Castelli, "Paul
on Women and Gender," WCO, 221-23
- Read Gal.
and 1 Cor. with close attention to the issues relating to women, gender,
and sexuality (Focus on Gal. 3:28, 4:21-31; 1 Cor 7 and 11)
- What is
the central message of Paul's "gospel" according to Galatians? What is the
relation between Paul's theological claims about covenant inheritance and
his statements about women? Consider especially Gal. 3:28-29 and 4:21-31.
- What is the significance of differences
based on ethnicity (Jews and Greeks), social class (slave and free),
and gender (male and female), according to the Paul of 1 Corinthians?
Compare and contrast with the persepctives of Gal. 3:28-29.
Romans 16 for evidence of women at work in the Pauline mission. Evaluate
MacDonald's arguments on the roles of "real woman" in Pauline churches.
- Topics for
Th, 9/27 Sexuality and Gender Issues in Corinth: Marriage
and the "Body" in
- How does
Paul's argument about the relation between the individual and communal "Body" in
1 Corinthians affect his position on sexual matters in Corinth? How
does his view of the impending End (eschaton) have on his views of
marriage, sexuality, and the community?
- Analyse the uses of Genesis 1-3 in the
language and arguments of Gal. 3:28 and 1 Corinthians 11. What evidence
do you see of ancient constructions of gender in the interpretation
of Genesis 1-3 and the argument of 1 Corinthians 11?
Gal. 3:28 with the similar formula in 1 Corinthians 12. What do you
make of the differences of wording and context?
VII, 10/2 & 10/4: Women
and Gender in the Pauline and Post-Pauline Communities
- Readings for
10/2 & 10/4
- Review Pauline
readings, esp. Galatians 3:28 and 1 Corinthians 7,
and Ephesians, special focus on Col. 3:18-4:1, Ephesians 5:21-33 (the
- 1 Timothy (focus
on references to women, esp. Eve in 1 Tim 2:8-15); See also 2 Tim and Titus,
especially for references to widows and wives
- Patricia Cox
Miller, Women in Early Christianity, "Women's Roles in the Church,"
15-39; 49-68, 251-286 -- Many of these sources are quite a bit later; read
quickly for references to the letters of Paul and the larger Pauline corpus
to see how these letters were interpreted to shape and restrict the roles
of women in the early Church
and Gender: Pay attention especially to the different interpretations
of the notion of the Human Being (ha-adham, anthropos) created in the
image of God (Gen. 1:26-27) and the account of the creation of the earth
creature and its division into man and woman (Hebrew ish and ishsha;
Greek aner and gyne).
- MacDonald, "Early
Interpreters of Paul on Women and Gender," WCO, 236-251
- Topics for
T, 10/2 and 10/4 (Contd.) Sexuality and Gender Issues in Pauline Christianity:
Authentic Paul and the Pauline Corpus
- How does
Paul's argument about the relation between the individual and
communal "Body" in
1 Corinthians affect his position on sexual matters in Corinth?
How does his view of the impending End (eschaton) have on his views
of marriage, sexuality, and the community?
the uses of Genesis 1-3 in the language and arguments of Gal. 3:28
and 1 Corinthians 11. What evidence do you see of ancient constructions
of gender in the interpretation of Genesis 1-3 and the argument of
1 Corinthians 11?
Gal. 3:28 with the similar formula in 1 Corinthians 12. What do you
make of the differences of wording and context
- The Legacy
of Pauline Tradition: The Household Codes and Pastoral Letters
- Analyse the construction of social relations
in the household codes of Colossians and Ephesians. Compare with
what we know of social roles, especially those associated with class
and gender in the Pauline communities.
and contrast the interpretation of Genesis 1-3 in 1 Timothy with
that of Gal. and 1 Corinthians (and see also Romans 5). What do you
make of the similarities and differences in general, and between
1 Corinthians 11 and 1 Timothy 2.
VII, 10/9-10/11: The Acts of Paul and Thecla: The Ascetic
Paul and the Idealization of Female Virginity
T, 10/9 and Th, 10/11: The Acts of Paul and Thecla
Acts of Paul and Thecla, in Patricia Cox Miller, Women in
Early Christainity, 155-180
MacDonald, Rereading Paul: Early Interpreters of Paul on Women
and Gender, Women and Christian Origins, 236-253
- Lynch, Early
Christianity, "Roman Society and the Christians," 79-90
Women in Early Christianity, on Martyrs and Asceticism, 40-46;
skim sections on Virginity and Asceticism for now, 69-250
Francine Cardman, "Women, Ministry, and Church Order," WCO,
A. Carter, "The Acts of Thecla: A Pauline Tradition
Linked to Women
IX, 10/23- 10/25: Women
and Gender in the Gospel of John; Logos and Sophia; The Mary's of the
Gospels of John
Topics for T,
10/23 and Th, 10/25 Women and Gender in the Gospels of John; Logos
and Sophia; "Mary" in
the Gospels of John
- For Tuesday,
- Gospel of John, Read the entire Gospel
of John closely with careful attention to: 1) the conception of Jesus'
preexistence as Logos of God and 2) the women who play an important role
in the story: Focus on: Mary at the wedding in Cana (2:1-12); the Samaritan
woman at the well (John 4:7-42); Mary, Martha, and Lazarus (11:1-53); the
woman who anoints Jesus (12:1-8; here: Mary of Bethany; compare with Mk
14:3-9 and Lk 7:36-50); Mary at the cross (19:25-27); Mary Magdalene at
the cross and outside the empty tomb (19:25, 20:1-18).
8 (look for passages on personified Wisdom), Wisdom of Solomon (skim
for images of Wisdom personified; select 1-3 passages that correlate to
ideas about the Logos in Gospel of John 1)
- E. Schuessler
Gospel of John," In
Memory of Her, 323-334.
- D'Angelo, WCO, 129-137, 145-146
for Th, 11/5
- Focus on the connections between Wisdom in Jewish Wisdom literature
(Proverbs and Wisdom of Solomon) with Hebrew texts
- What do you make of the differences between John's presentation of Jesus'
ministry, teaching, and interactions with women in comparison to the Synoptic
- What is the
significance of John's account of the women at the cross, empty tomb,
and the resurrection appearances.
- Analyse closely
John's depiction of Mary Magdalene. Compare with those in the Synoptic
gospels, especially with the accounts of Mary Magdalene at the empty
tomb. What are the most significant implications
of GJohn's more detailed account of the resurrection appearance to Mary
X-XII, 10/30- 11/8: Mary Magdalene and Female Imagery
in Non-Canonical Gospels: The Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Mary,
and the Gospel of Philip; Female Images for the Divine: Sophia,
Thunder, the Divine Mother and Father
Women and Gender in The Gospel of Thomas and The Hypostasis of the Archons;
Interpretations and Retellings of Genesis 1-3
for Discussion, 11/6
Gospel of Thomas, Focus on Sayings 22 and
114, and other allusions to Genesis (review Genesis
and Gender handout); Pick out all passages in which female
characters or imagery appear
- A. McGuire, "Women,
Gender and Gnosis in Gnostic Texts and Traditions," WCO, 257-299.
Gospel of Thomas Home Page - for more background on the
text. Please note: Scholars debate whether or not the GThomas
can be called "Gnostic"
- Lynch, Early Christianity, "Christian
Diversity in the Second and Third Centuries,"
54-61, and The Emergence of Proto-Orthodoxy, 62-78
Hypostasis of the Archons (or The Reality of the Rulers), from
The Nag Hammadi Library in English,
trans. by Bentley Layton
- For further background
on the Nag Hammadi texts, see
Nag Hammadi Library Page, Gnostic Society
Noncanonical Home Page
and contrast the representation of Jesus' teachings on the Kingdom
of God in the Gospel of Thomas with the NT Gospels.
is the relation between creation and salvation in GThomas? Consider,
for example, the text's references to Adam and other imagery drawn
from Genesis 1-3. How do the figures of Adam and Eve fit into the
religious worldview of GThomas?
- What is
the relation between gender and salvation in the Gospel of Thomas?
Analyse the tension between Gospel of Thomas 22 and 114, as well
as other references to male and female.
- The Hypostasis
of the Archons from Nag Hammadi offers a radical retelling of Genesis
from the perspective that the Creator God is not the true God. Notice
the sharp distinction between Ialdabaoth vs. Incorruptiblity and
the Divine Spirit, and think about the implications of this revisioning
of the God who gives the command not to eat of the tree of knowledge
(gnosis). How does this
text's reinterpretation of Genesis affect its representation of
Eve and her daughter Norea? What impact is this likely to have had
on the roles of women in the communities that read this text?
- How do the
various manifestations of the divine in HypArch relate to the Jewish
and early Christian conceptions of Sophia and Logos?
- What is the
significance of Norea's epithet as "The VIRGIN whom the Forces
could not Defile"?
The Gospel of Mary and the Gospel of Philip
Female Images of the Divine: Wisdom, Thunder, and the Valentinian Conception
of the Divine
for Discussion, Th 11/8
- 1) Who is the speaker in Thunder,
Perfect Mind? Compare with the self-proclamations of Jesus in the Gospel
of John, Wisdom in Proverbs, and Isis in the Cyme aretalogy.
- 2) What do you make of the
extensive use of gender, kinship imagery, and paradox in Thunder, Perfect
Mind? How do the speaker's statements about her relation to language
(speaking, hearing, utterances, silence, thought) function in relation
to the reader's experience of the text?
XIII, 11/13-12/ "Mother of the Living" or "Devil's
Gateway": Genesis 1-3 as a Site of Contention in
2nd-3rd Century Christianity; Images of Eve, Virginity, and
the Female Martyr
11/15 The Passion of Perpetua and Felicitas
Passion of Perpetua, in Lives of Roman Christian Women,
ed. C. White, 3-17
and Introduction in Lives of Roman Christian
review 40-46 on Martyrs
Corrington Streete, "Women as Sources of
Redemption and Knowledge in Early Christian
Traditions," WCO, 330-354.
for further reading: Patricia Cox Miller, "Perpetua
and Her Diary of Dreams," Dreams
in Late Antiquity: Studies in the Imagination
of a Culture,
Princeton University Press, 1994
Recommended for further reading:
Husband," Journal of Early Christian
also Joyce Salisbury, Perpetua's
-- No Class; Attending Annual Meeting of Society of Biblical
Literature in Chicago
4 p.m., 11/20:
A one-paragraph proposal for your final research project, with bibliography
of primary sources and 3-5 secondary sources (articles and/or books).
Submit by email attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org.
T, 11/27 "Patristic"
Writings On Female Comportment and Virginity
- Tertullian, On
the Apparel of Women, esp. Introduction
from Methodius, Gregory of Nyssa, and Chrysostom on Female Comportment
and Virginity, in Miller, 71-117
Cox Miller, Timeline, Women in Early Christianity, 326-27
A. Clark, " Ideology,
History, and the Construction of 'Woman in Late Antique Christianity "
- Review Chronology
and Introduction in Lives of Roman Christian Women, vii-xxviii
Th, 11/29 The
Ideal of Spiritual Marriage and the Virginal Life: Athanasius, Chrysostom,
Gregory of Nyssa
and Chrysostom on Spiritual Marriage in
- Gregory of
Nyssa on The Life of Macrina, in C. White, Lives of Roman Christian
- See also
Miller, 192-207 on Macrina
T, 12/4 The
Lives of Melania the Elder and Marcella
- The Life
of Melania the Elder by Palladius, in Lives
of Roman Christian Women,
- See also
Miller, 207-210 on Melania the Elder
- The Life
of Marcella by Jerome, in Lives of Roman Christian Women,
Castelli, "Virginity and Its Meaning for
Women's Sexuality," Journal
of Feminist Studies in Religion
Th, 12/6 Jerome
on Virginity: The Life of Paula the Elder and The Letter to Eustochium
12/7, Paper #2 Due by 4 p.m.by email attachment. Guidelines
for Essay 2
12/11 Women in Desert Asceticism
Th, 12/13 Report
on Research Projects
new readings - Post
on Moodle a very short summary of your final project
of you will present a brief report on your final
project for the course.
prepared to help one another refine and advance your approaches to
- Due in class:
5-page draft, annotated bibliography, and
outline of final paper
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