Roman Wives, Roman Widows: The Appearance of New Women and the Pauline Communities

Roman Wives, Roman Widows: The Appearance of New Women and the Pauline Communities

Roman Wives, Roman Widows: The Appearance of New Women and the Pauline Communities

Roman Wives, Roman Widows: The Appearance of New Women and the Pauline Communities

Synopsis

During the late Republic and early Empire, the new woman' made her appearance. This was a wife or widow of means who took part in life outside the walls of her house, including wider society, business and extra-marital affairs. Winter's specialised study investigates the reasons for this social change, asking what conditions had emerged that allowed women to have affairs with immunity and divorce their husbands, reclaiming their dowries. Initially Winter searches for evidence of the new woman' in the literature of the period, notably in the works of Catullus and Ovid, before examining in detail the place of women and marriage in law, the Roman ideal of the perfect wife, and the role of the Christian church in bringing wives back into the fold of their families and respectability.

Excerpt

Roman Wives, Roman Widows: the Appearance of New Women and the Pauline Communities aims to show that where the poets and other literary observers in the late Republic and early Empire, Augustus in his marriage legislation, the Stoic and the Neo-Pythagorean philosophical schools in their deliberations and the letters to the Pauline communities discuss the behaviour of a certain type of women, they were all dealing with one and the same phenomenon. It is what some ancient historians have recently designated the ‘new woman’ who was contrasted with the modest wife and widow. From ancient literary, legal, and non-literary sources it will be argued that the appearance of the ‘new woman’ can be identified.

This book does not focus on the authorial views on women in the relevant New Testament texts. It does not discuss the early Christian household codes nor 1 Corinthians 7 which contains the longest discussion on marriage, singleness, divorce, remarriage and courtship directed to the Christian communities in the early church.

It was in the midst of teaching a course on hermeneutics called “Text and Context” at Beeson Divinity School in 2000 that this book had its genesis. a graduate student requested that a lecture be given on ‘being saved through childbirth’ in 1 Timothy 2:15 in its social context. I was at that time completing the first draft of the chapter “Veiled Men and Wives and Christian Contentiousness (1 Corinthians 11:2-16)” for my book, After Paul Left Corinth: the Influence of Secular Ethics and Social Change. What struck me as I began to prepare the material was how apposite the particular cultural setting of the Corinthian passage was in illuminating aspects of 1 Timothy 2:8-15.

I had assumed that the ancient material would have already been brought to light in the not inconsiderable secondary literature on 1 Timothy 2:9-15.

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