Women and Christianity

Women and Christianity

Women and Christianity

Women and Christianity

Synopsis

This work explores the impact of Christian women as scholars and leaders representing the ethnic, national, racial, and denominational diversity of Christianity today on all aspects of life.

Excerpt

Cheryl A. Kirk-Duggan and Karen Jo Torjesen

Women have been active in Christianity since its inception. When going against Eastern customs and ethos, Jesus taught women, related to them, and engaged them with respect. He never condemned them, acted as if they were inferior, or as if they were property. While the received biblical texts do not indicate women were disciples, Mary Magdalene, in all four gospels, is present during the passion, death, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, the Messiah for Christians. Paul, a missionary and founder of the Christian church, writes letters to groups of people and churches throughout the Greco-Roman world. Many of the Pauline texts speak of liberation, salvation, and religious life. Yet, many of them written under Paul’s name, but not by Paul, speak of women’s subordination, submission, and oppression in the name of faith. Some of these texts were written as Christianity became more public and the writers adapted and edited divinely inspired stories to match the cultural norms of that day, where the equality, inclusion, and liberative stances for women incorporated by Jesus were diminished. In the early house churches, the rule was more egalitarian, and women were often in charge as long as Christian communities aligned themselves with social structures of the private arena.

When Constantine made Christianity the state religion in the GrecoRoman world, Christian practice became even more exclusive. The GrecoRoman world created a dichotomy of public versus private, where house (oikos) indicated private (the realm of female, indoor, stationary, natural, inferior), while public (polis) pertained to male, outdoor, mobile, civilized, and superior. There is a distinction between public and private space; who occupies it, and how it is experienced, often is based upon gender: male . . .

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