Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist
Early Christian Women and Pagan Opinion

Early Christian Women and Pagan Opinion
The Power of the Hysterical Woman

$37.99 (C)

  • Date Published: October 1996
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521567282

$ 37.99 (C)

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an examination copy?

If you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • A study of how women figured in public reaction to the church from New Testament times to the second century CE. MacDonald shows the conviction of pagan writers that female initiative was central to Christianity's development, and the belief that women inclined toward excesses in religion. Concern in the New Testament and early Christian texts about the respectability of women is seen in a new light when one appreciates that outsiders focused on early church women and their activities as a reflection of the group as a whole.

    • Draws together references in pagan writings and in New Testament and early Christian texts on church women
    • Shows importance of how women figured in public opinion for understanding early Christian teaching on women
    • Illustrates value of pagan critique of early Christianity about the lives of church women
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    "This sensitively written and subtly argues book sheds new light on the position of women in early Christianity by investigating the stereotypes of Christian women purveyed in pagan and early Christian texts through the lens of social-scientific models of gender relations." University of Toronto Quarterly

    "Recommended both for the educated reader and the scholar of Christian origins." Sara C. Winter, Religious Studies Review

    "This book will be of particular interest to early-Christian scholars working on women and/or on Christianity and pagan culture as well as to scholars studying women and religion." Susan A. Calef, Journal of Religion

    "...MacDonald...has raised a very important question in the study of early Christianity, one that should continue to be pursued." Carolyn Osiek, The Catholic Biblical Quarterly

    "MacDonald has helped us to understand new dimensions of these tensions, and she has done so in a balanced and nuanced way that one can only admire." Peter Richardson, Studies in Relgion

    "MacDonald writes a provocative inquiry into the interaction between women in earliest Christianity and the restraints and opportunities afforded them in Greco-Roman society. The volume is marked by informed and carefully applied social and anthropological contructs which bear on an analysis of religions in the first centuries C.E. Original lines of investigations are pursued, and some intriguing conclusions are offered to the reader. This book is a welcome addition to the academic study of religion and to New Testament scholarship in particular. It is cleanly edited, with helpful bibliography and serviceable index." Rollin A. Ramsarin, Journal of the American Academy of Religion

    "Those interested in women's studies will, of course, welcome this book, but any student of the early Church will learn from it. ...this is a good book for scholars and lay people alike." Stephen Benko, The Catholic Historical Review

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: October 1996
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521567282
    • length: 292 pages
    • dimensions: 216 x 140 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.37kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Defining the task
    2. Women's studies in early Christianity and cultural anthropology
    3. Honour and shame
    4. Public, male/ private, female
    5. A social-scientific concept of power
    Part I. Pagan Reaction to Early Christian Women in the Second Century CE:
    1. Pliny
    2. Marcus Cornelius Fronto
    3. Lucius Apuleius
    4. Lucian of Samosata
    5. Galen of Pergamum
    6. Celsus
    7. Conclusion
    Part II. Celibacy, Women, and Early Church Responses to Public Opinion:
    1. Paul's teaching on marriage as a 'conversionist' response to the world
    2. Paul's focus on women holy in body and spirit in 1 Corinthians 7
    3. A focus on women in light of the values of honor and shame
    4. 1 Timothy 5.3-16 - second-century celibate women under public scrutiny
    5. When the private becomes public - contacts between 1 Timothy 5.3-16 and the Acts of Paul and Thecla
    Part III. Marriage, Women, and Early Church Responses to Public Opinion:
    1.1 Corinthians 7.12-16 - the evangelising potential of household relations
    2. 1 Peter 3.1-16 - recovering the lives of the quiet evangelists
    3. Justin's woman married to an unchaste husband - religious sensiblities and life with a pagan husband
    4. Married life and the social reality of women in the communities of Ignatius of Antioch
    5. From Ephesians 5.21-33 to Ignatius, Letter to Polycarp 5.1-2 - the evolution of authority structures governing the lives of married women
    6. The church-bride and married women as mediators between the church and the world
    7. Conclusion
    General conclusion.

  • Author

    Margaret Y. MacDonald, University of Ottawa

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.