Women's Religions in the Greco-Roman World: A Sourcebook

By Ross Shepard Kraemer | Go to book overview

Introduction

When I published the first edition of this sourcebook in 1988, I wanted to assemble in one place, in English translation, major texts and documents pertaining to the studyof women's religious activities in the various religions of Greco-Roman antiquity, including Judaism and Christianity. As I pointed out at the time, there were then numerous sourcebooks on the religions of Greco-Roman antiquity (manydesigned to aid the studyof the New Testament and early Christianity), an anthologyof texts on women's lives in Greek and Roman society, and several on women in Christian sources. A handful of studies surveyed what were then couched as “attitudes” toward women in Judaism and Christianity, and one Christian feminist theologian had assembled a collection of resources for feminist (Christian) theology. No one, however, had assembled the texts relevant to women's religions in Western antiquity. Maenads, Martyrs, Matrons, Monastics: A Sourcebook of Women's Religions in the Greco-Roman World marshaled an arrayof materials into 135 entries, ranging from Euripides' description of the first ecstatic worshipers of the Greek god Dionysos in his late-fifth-century B. C. E. prize-winning play The Bacchae to Philo of Alexandria's report on monastic Jewish women philosophers in the first century C. E. to epitaphs attesting women deacons and elders in numerous Christian communities, and women leaders in late antique Jewish synagogues.

In 1988, feminist scholarship on women's religions, both in the ancient world and elsewhere, was still verymuch in its infancy. Onlyfive years earlier, I had published a review article on women's religions in the Greco-Roman world, including Christianityand Judaism, in which I was able to offer a reasonablycomprehensive surveyof twentieth-centuryscholarship whose bibliographycontained about 250 entries. Much of that scholarship was pursued within the context of contemporarytheological debates. The evidence for women as leaders in ancient Christian churches was studied for the relevance it might have for debates about the contemporaryordination of women; and the views of ancient male Christian writers from Paul to Tertullian to Jerome and John Chrysostom regarding women

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Women's Religions in the Greco-Roman World: A Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents xi
  • Abbreviations xxv
  • Women's Religions in the Greco-Roman World *
  • Introduction 3
  • One - Observances, Rituals, and Festivals 9
  • Two - Researching Real Women: Documents To, From, and by Women 117
  • Three - Religious Office 241
  • Four - New Religious Affiliation and Conversion 279
  • Five - Holy, Pious, and Exemplary Women 329
  • Six - The Feminine Divine 415
  • Index of Female Names 479
  • Index of Ancient Sources 484
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