Women and the Earliest Church: Reflecting on the Problématique of Christ and Culture
by Mary Rose D’Angelo
from Women Priests, Arlene Swidler & Leonard Swidler (eds.), Paulist Press 1977, pp. 191-201. Republished on our website with the necessary permissions
Mary Rose D’Angelo has a B.A. from Fordham University and the M. Phil and Ph. D. degrees from Yale University. At the time she taught Scripture at Hartwick College and Liturgy at The School of Theology, The University of the South. During Spring she was a Research Fellow at the Yale Divinity School.
In attempting to use the “attitude of Jesus and the apostles” as a norm for theological decision,(1) the Declaration has raised the issue of Christ and culture, an issue fraught with theoretical and historical complexity. Denying the claim that social and cultural factors appear to have had more significance than theological demands in the exclusion of women from the Christian ministry, the Declaration makes the counter-claim that, since Jesus “broke with the prejudices of his time” and since the Hellenistic milieu would have enabled the apostles to shake off “Jewish” discriminatory attitudes toward women, the “attitude of Jesus and the apostles” cannot be explained by social and cultural factors.(2) Presumably, then, we must conclude that it is based on some positive theological demand. Both the denial and the counterclaim raise difficulties. Rather than attempting to defend the view of the unnamed opponents, this essay will respond directly to the Declaration, pointing out two major theoretical questions raised by the counter-claim and delineating the very complex problems of reconstructing the historical picture on which such claims must be based.
The Declaration begs the question of the attitude of Jesus by defining it as a decision to exclude women from the ministry, a decision which must be deduced from the absence of women from the Twelve and from the apostolic ministry of the earliest Church. The necessity of such a conclusion, is, however, far from clear. First of all there are a variety of historical and exegetical problems involved. How are we to define the function of the Twelve? Is the Christian ministry defined by the pattern of the Twelve, and in what fashion? How do we regard the undoubted fact that the word apostle was applied to others? What was the function of an apostle? Can we be sure that no women filled this function? What functions did women fill in the earliest church? Other commentators will broach these problems, and the Report of the Pontifical Biblical Commission (3) touches upon most of them. I simply mention them as indications of the historical unclarity with which we are dealing. The real problem is, however, a problem of logic: we cannot be sure that a decision was made by which women were excluded from a clearly defined function in the church; we simply know that there were no women, Gentiles, or, it appears, slaves among the Twelve.(4)
The Declaration misrepresents the function of social/cultural factors in the formation of theology and practice by treating them as conscious elements of decision making, and by depicting its unnamed opponents as claiming that “by not calling women to enter the group of the apostles Jesus was simply letting himself be guided by reasons of expediency” and that “this attitude is inspired only by social and cultural reasons.”(5)
Cultural conditioning, however, is primarily a matter of the limitation of decision at a level which is at least partially prior to reflection and decision, affecting decision less by causing one to choose between options than by limiting the options from which one can choose. Thus, the roles of women in the early church, insofar as we are able to know about them, cannot be explained without reference to the cultural and social possibilities of the period. The early Church’s practice, and probably its theory of the status of women, was similar to that of its cultural milieu; more precisely, the range of roles for women within the early church was to a great extent determined by the cultural possibilities of the contemporary society and these possibilities were limited. We do not have clear evidence that women shared the apostolic ministry, and we do have unambiguous evidence of their increasing exclusion from ministerial roles. It is then unsafe to conclude that this reality sprang from a theological decision rather than from cultural limitation. Without such a conclusion, the interpreter is left without a clear scriptural imperative, and the necessity arises of making a theological decision which is consonant not only with tradition but also with what the Gospel demands in our cultural context.
Slavery gives us an example of a change in these cultural limitations and its effect upon the interpretation of the gospel imperative. The early church proclaimed at baptism that “in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, nor ‘male and female'” (Gal. 3:28). The church received the slave as a brother or sister in the Lord, but did not quarrel with the institution of slavery. Hellenistic philosophers had already begun to question the institution (6) and Judaism had an inherent repugnance for the enslavement of a brother or sister (Israelite). Christianity shared these views and indeed extended them, but did not definitively come to see the owning of slaves and the sufferance of the institution of slavery as incompatible with the gospel until the late nineteenth century. Widening cultural consciousness (or perhaps conscience) made it possible for the baptismal declaration “in Christ there is neither slave nor free” to be recognized as a gospel imperative—but only gradually. The abolition of the distinction between slave and free attached to the new age; only gradually did it become clear how the eschatological reality which transforms the individual in Christ could be realized in the human condition as still tied to the old age.
The gradualness and complexity of this development underscores the problematic aspects of the Declaration’s assertions that cultural influence on Jesus and the apostles can be discounted as a factor in the exclusion of women from ministerial functions. We can now turn our attention to the problems involved in the definition of the cultural attitude and deal with the Declaration’s arguments at that level. Different arguments are used with regard to the attitude of Jesus and that of Paul and the apostolic mission, as each involves its own set of historical and methodological problems, they are best treated separately.
The Attitude of Jesus and Its Relation To His Cultural Context
The Declaration’s monolithic view of the character and function of cultural influence leads it to the conclusion that Jesus was independent of such influence, that he “broke with the prejudices of his time by widely contravening the discriminations practiced with regard to women.”(7) It sets forth (pars 11-12) a series of examples of such contraventions on the part of Jesus, however; the suggestion that they represent Jesus’ rejection of the social and cultural status of women in his time is open to attack on double grounds.
First, the problem of historicity arises in regard to each of the examples; it is not possible to ascribe any of these incidents to the historical Jesus with certainty, and most of them reflect the view, purposes or milieux of the individual evangelists who transmit them.(8) The Gospels of Mark and Luke in particular have been influenced by the concerns of the Roman empire, and many commentators upon these two Gospels would explain differences from Jewish or Palestinian views as evidence of such influence rather than as testimony to the unique attitudes of the historical Jesus. (9) While the attraction of grounding women’s rights in the preaching of the Jesus of history is great, the attempt to do so is open to the same objections as the Declaration’s somewhat naive attempt to ground the exclusion of women from the ministerial priesthood on a decision of the historical Jesus. Many scholars would maintain the historicity of these incidents, or of a clearly defined “counter-cultural” attitude of Jesus toward women.(10) Without denying the historicity of such an attitude of Jesus, we may avoid the vexed issue by making a more modest claim, speaking instead of the principles and attitudes communicated by the Gospel message and in the Gospels.(11)This approach has been taken with considerable profit by such scholars as Constancc V. Parvey(12) and Raymond E. Brown,(13) in their studies of Luke-Acts and the Gospel of John respectively.
The historical problem underlines the second problematic aspect of the Declaration’s contention; the authors claim these incidents as evidence of Jesus’ rejection of or freedom from the attitudes of his time. But this assertion disregards the function of the stories in the Gospels, as well as their relation to their cultural milieu. Of none of the incidents cited by the Declaration can it be said that the Gospel writer intended to give Jesus’ opinion on the social status of women; the focus in each case is quite different. The forgiveness Jesus extends to the adulterous woman is not intended by the author to teach “that one must not be more severe towards the fault of a woman than towards that of a man”; the legal penalty for adultery is the same for men and women, and disproportionate severity towards the “weaker sex” is not to be expected in Jewish law. In legal penalties in the strict sense, no distinction is made except in favor of the woman (this of course does not preclude a double standard in what falls under a penalty).(14) The message of the story is rather that a vengeful intent and inward sin, or sin that carries no social stigma, is no less sinful than adultery and murder.(15) That Mt 9:20-22 (and parallels) takes no notice of the woman’s state of ritual impurity, if the omission is intentional, probably intends to speak only about Jesus’ attitude to ritual law.(16) Jesus’ contact with the woman in Luke 7 and with the Samaritan woman in John 4 and the presence of the women at the tomb are not intended as examples of Jesus’ unusual attitude toward women, but rather as indications that the kingdom’s need and reality transcend social conventions and human institutions and that God can use any instrument, however weak and despised, to establish the reign.(17)
The narratives of the empty tomb, however, point to the cultural limitations of this conviction: the evangelists and the early Church could conceive that God had chosen to reveal the mighty deed of Jesus to the women who were weak and foolish in human sight—but not that God’s choice had given them the capacity to be witnesses in the sight of the law and the world.(18) This incapacity of women to be witnesses (which we now recognize as a social fact of the first century rather than an ontological defect of women) may well have been the factor which excluded them from the Twelve. At least the author of Luke-Acts defines the Twelve as witnesses of the ministry of Jesus from the baptism to the ascension. According to Acts 1:15-26, witness is the ministry (or office: episcope) of the Twelve. The inclusion of women at the empty tomb, then, does not constitute a direct confrontation with and rejection of the cultural restrictions placed upon women, but instead offers an extension of their role within cultural limits.(19) Likewise the attitude which the Gospels ascribe to Jesus should not be regarded as completely transcending the cultural boundaries of his milieu, but as belonging to, perhaps heading (at least in Palestine) the cultural evolution or counter-culture of his time, as being in the fore of a very complex process of expanding human horizons for women. (20) The evangelists’ suggestions that Jesus upset convention for the sake of the kingdom fall within the range of cultural possibilities; the Jewish tradition also knows of stories about saints and Rabbis who outrage the convention of religion and even of decency for the sake of heaven and of compassion. (21) Although the rabbinical view of women is generally subordinationist,(22) there exist rabbinical opinions rejecting divorce and polygamy on the basis of an originally androgynous creation of humanity(23) affirming the equality of the sexes before the fall and at the end.(24) As for Jesus’ women disciples, or followers, women were the mainstay of religion in the ancient world, and rabbis and philosophers alike relied upon the assistance of women and collected coteries of women followers like the ones attributed to Jesus, especially by Luke.25
Thus the primary function of these passages is never concerned with Jesus’ attitude toward women. They do clearly distinguish the Jesus of the Gospels from the misogynists of the ancient world and indeed present him as deeply compassionate with the plight of women. Parvey even suggests that the inclusion and instruction of women in the Lucan community may be seen as a secondary function of many of the stories in Luke.(26) But it cannot be said on the basis of thesc stories that Jesus rejected or sought to change the cultural framework which assumed the subordination of women and indeed the institution of slavery. To suggest that Jesus could have included women in the Twelve if he had willed women to be priests and bishops has the same logical force as saying that he could have freed the centurion’s slave if had he not willed the Church to support the institution of slavery
What then can we say about the attitude of Jesus as the evangelists describe it? It is clear that they wish to declare on his authority that the Gospel and the Kingdom supersede normal human expectation and social convention. From this demand of the Gospel, and possibly from Jesus’prohibition of divorce, it is possible to conclude that: “The reign of God inaugurated by his (Jesus’) preaching, and in his presence, brings with it a full restoration of feminine dignity.”(27) It may even be that the obliteration of sexual distinction in the resurrection which transcends and surpasses the equality of the creation is inaugurated before the resurrection in those who choose celibacy for the sake of the kingdom.(28) Within the possibilities of their cultural milieux, the evangelists also present Jesus as having a “good” practical attitude toward women, an attitude that is perhaps unusually favorable, if not unexampled. In other words, the Gospel writers give us a fairly radical principle about the equality of the sexes which is carried out by the Jesus of the Gospels to the extent which the decidedly limited cultural possibilities allowed. Surely the conclusion we should draw is that we also must implement this conviction of equality in Christ to the limits of our cultural experience and perhaps also seek to broaden those limits.
The Attitude of Paul and the Apostolic Mission
Once the Christian community is extended beyond the borders of Palestine and Judaism, the cultural picture becomes still more complex. When the Declaration suggests that Paul and the other apostles of the Hellenistic mission would no longer be restricted by “social and cultural conditioning” because “in the Greek milieu . . . the same forms of discrimination did not exist,(29) two difficulties are involved. First, we cannot assume that Paul, other Jewish apostles and those communities which were primarily Diaspora Jews could leave aside Jewish attitudes. Just the opposite seems to be true (cf.1 Cor 11.2-16). Secondly, “the same forms of discrimination did not exist” in Hellenistic cultures, but the status of women was still problematic
In fact the legal status and economic situation of women under Roman law was more independent than that of women under Jewish law. This was most notable insuch areas of legislation as divorce and inheritance.(30) This should by no means be taken as applying equally throughout the empire, of course. Legislation before Justinian was very frequently determined by the ethnic character or history of the local population.
As the legal status of women varied throughout the Greco-Roman world, Hellenistic thought about women also varied. Among the moral philosophers, especially some of the Stoics, a view of men and women as equal in nature and the necessity of equal education were held. (31) More common and more influential in Christianity was that strain of moral philosophy, represented especially by the neo-Platonists, which used the adjective female as a derogatory term, the opposite of the cardinal virtue courage (andreia, or manliness) and a synonym for derivative, weak and secondary. This is especially well illustrated by Philo of Alexandria,(32) a very Hellenized Jewish philosopher, who typifies the cross-cultural atmosphere in which the earliest Christian missions must have been largely conducted. The usage derives from Plato (33) and pervades the thought of most of his interpreters.
This view of women leads to an observation about the place of women in the various Hellenistic religious groups of the era. The stigmatization of foreign religions by the satirists and critics like Juvenal focuses in particular upon their women adherents. The virulent attack upon women, especially women of means and independence, in Juvenal’s Satire VI spares no foible of women worshippers.(34) It is unquestionable that the role of women in traditional religion was greatly extended in the Hellenistic era, particularly by the mystery cults which allowed women a more full role as worshippers than did traditional religion.(35) But the Declaration’s suggestion that Hellenistic priestesses could have served as a model for Christian practice had the ontological necessities allowed women to be priests at all (36) fails on two counts. The first is the dearth of evidence that there really were priestesses who functioned in any roles similar to those of the male sacerdotal system. No feminine form of pontifex exists, and no instance of this word being applied to a woman has yet been found. Further, women named sacerdos appear to have been either mantic figures, like the sybils, or consorts of the male officiants or colleges, like the Vestal virgins, the wife of the flamen dialis and the priestess of Bona Dea, who presided over segregated rites of women.(37) Even the rites of the oriental goddesses had hierarchics either dominated by men or exclusively male.(38) Nonetheless, the real objection to the idea that the priestesses of Hellenistic religions could have served as a model is that no priest at all, male or female, could at the earliest period serve as a model for the Christian ministry. Minucius Felix can still boast that Christianity has no altars or temples and contrast to the bloody pagan sacrifices not the Christian liturgy but Christian moral action.(39) Even the Jewish priesthood does not initially serve as a model for the Christian ministry; the Christian liturgy is assimilated not to the temple service but to the lay (and male) service of the synagogue.(40)
Paul and the Hellenistic mission preached in a very complex cultural setting, one which had some incipient principles of equality and developing (but by no means extensive) areas of economic and legal independence, but also deep cultural resistance to such ideas and practices, greatly enhanced by a virulent backlash against them.(41) Juvenal, for instance, represents a protest essentially directed against “uppity women.” This attitude differs from, but is no less strong than, the Jewish ideas of Paul and of those of his communities principally composed of Diaspora Jews.
What then can we conclude about Paul’s relation to this cultural milieu? I would suggest that this relation is similar to the one between the attitude of Jesus as described by the evangelists and contemporary Judaism. According to the Gospels, Jesus appears to proclaim with the Kingdom a new situation in which the original equality of creation is restored and possibly even an anticipation of the eschaton in which sexual difference is superseded, at least in part. Paul has, and passes down, a baptismal tradition which does not merely re-establish the original equality but overturns the distinction of creation: “In Christ . . . there is no ‘male and female'” (Gal 3:28; cf. Gen 1:27).42 In both cases, the conviction is implemented only insofar as cultural possibilities admit. In the Pauline community, women have a role in the assembly: they may pray and prophesy.(43) But this is not entirely outside the cultural possibilities; prophecy at least was an accepted role for women in both Jewish and Greek milieux. And it is limited by the culturally acceptable, the “decent” (to prepon, I Cor 11:13) and the “custom”( hë sunetheia, I Cor 11:16). Paul permits women to pray and prophesy in the assembly—but they must be decently dressed. Although he abandons the attempt to ground the head-covering in a theological necessity and rejects its subordinationist import (I Cor 11:11-12), he cannot allow the Corinthians to offend decency, or rather his own Jewish cultural conventions, which for Paul have assumed the guise of nature (1 Cor 11:14).(44)
The demand of decency, of that set of conventions by which a society elects to safeguard the sanctity of sexuality and human dignity, is precisely the strongest and most elusive factor of cultural conditioning.(45) As the Report of the Pontifical Biblical Commission remarks, the successors of Paul found it possible and apparently necessary to retrench the roles Paul had permitted to women.(46) That the sense of what is decent and fitting is a factor in this retrenchment can hardly be disallowed. As time went on and the Christian ministry developed into a priesthood, the roles allowed to women decreased. This may have been due in part to a fear of pagan goddesses and their cultic attendents, and certainly resulted in part from the understanding of the ministry as a fulfillment of the Jewish priesthood, and in part from Christian ascetic ideas.(47) But another factor must also have been the outraged sense of decency displayed in the pagan reaction to the relative permissiveness of Christianity toward women.(48) In its ambition to persuade the world by the purity of its life, the Christian church found it necessary to restrict the sphere of women within the assembly.
This concern of the early Church to live a life of exemplary morality might stand us in good stead in reflecting upon the norm that “the attitude of Jesus and the apostles” offers us in our attempt to make the theological tradition speak to the question of admission of women to the ministerial priesthood. Both Jesus and Paul seem to have found in the demand of the Kingdom and the Gospel an equality among humanity, even an abolition of sexual distinction that is at least incipiently recognized in the personal reality of the baptized. On the practical level, the Jesus of the Gospels and Paul both attempt some realization of this eschatological reality but are bound in both cases by cultural possibilities, as Paul says, by what is decent. The baptismal imperative remains, and the cultural context has so changed that admitting women to public and communal authority (pre-eminence in the community) no longer offends the sense of what is decent and human, and sequestering and subordinating women does offend the sense of human decency. In a Church in which the inhibiting cultural demands of earlier generations have been disguised as theology, the conviction of equality in Christ is obscured, and that which was once intended to secure and attest the moral probity of Christians becomes a sign of Christian moral obtuseness.
1. Declaration, par. 18. I recognize that the document does not attempt to use the New Testament as its sole theological norm; cf. 111, 2.
2. Declaration, par. 19.
3. Report of the Pontifical Biblical Commission: “Can Women Be Priests?” II, 3, III, and IV.
4. The Commentary acknowledges the problem but cannot resolve it (III 4). The logical problem is worked out at some length by Linwood Urban in ‘A Dialogue Concerning the Ordination of Women,” The Saint Luke’s Journal of Theology, Vol. XVIII, No. 4 (Sept., 1975), pp. 391-404.
5. Declaration, par. 19.
6. See E. Vernon Arnold, Roman Stoicism (New York: The Humanities Press, 1958), #309, p. 279, especially the reference to Philo in n. 44: anthropos gar ek Physeos doulos oudeis (Sept. et fest.di, p. 283 M; De Spec. Leg. II.69, Cohn-Wendland). Seneca, Epistolae Mora!es 47 and Epictetus, Discourses Book IV provide representative Hellenistic discussions of slavery and freedom, in which freedom is seen as proper to the true philosopher; in many ways the discussion is similar to Paul’s assertion of freedom in Christ (1 Cor 7:2-24; Gal 3:26-5.16).
7. Declaration, par. 19.
8. See Constance V. Parvey, “Women in the New Testament,” in Rosemary Radford Ruether, Religion and Sexism (New York: Simon and Shuster, 1974), p. 138.
9. Krister Stendahl, The Bible and The Role of Women (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1966), p. 25.
10. Among them, Montefiore, The Rabbinic Literature and Gospel Teachings (London, 1930), pp. 46 ff., 217ff. Cf. The Synoptic Gospels (New York, 1927), Vol. 1, pp. 281, 389; vol. 11, pp. 67, 438. Also Leonard Swidler, “Jesus was a Feminist,” Catholic World (Jan., 1971), pp. 177-183.
11. The hermeneutical problem of deriving principles upon which the Church acts from the New Testament has been carefully examined by Krister Stendahl in the study cited above (note 9) which is subtitled: ‘A Case Study in Hermeneutics.”
12. Parvey, op. cit., pp. 138-147.
13. “Women in the Fourth Gospel,” Theological Studies, Vol. 36, No. 4 (Dec 1975)
14. On this see Lev 20:8-21; cf. Dt 22:23-27. Sotah 3,8 summarizes the legal distinctions between men and women, and they certainly do not include more severe penalties for women.
15. R.E. Brown in The Gospel According to John, Vol. I (Garden City New York: Doubleday and Company, 1966), 388, gives a series of possible functions for the story, including some similar to the one I suggest, but not including the meaning suggested by the Declaration.
16. The story of course originates in Mark, and the legal question is not raised by the evangelists. However cf. Mark 7:1-23, a passage directly concerned with the attitude of Jesus to the law. The Commentary of D.E. Nineham, The Gospel of Saint Mark (Baltimore: Penguin, 1963), pp. 157-159 and 187-197 gives an adequate account of the function of both passages
17. The function of Judith and that of Esther in the books that bear their names is similar. On John 4, see Brown’s comments on 4:9 and 27 (John, Vol. 1, pp. 170 and 172). Elsewhere, however, Brown has interpreted the later part of this chapter as commissioning the woman as apostle to the Samaritans (“Women,” pp. 691-692).
18. Stendahl, op. cit., p25.
19. Brown suggests that in the Johannine community women filled an apostolic or semi-apostolic function (‘Women,” p. 695). However, for the sake of argument, we shall allow the Declaration’s contention that women held no apostolic office in the early Church
20. On the variety of practice and theory with regard to women in the ancient world and the implications of that variety see Wayne Atherton Meeks, “Image of the Androgyne,” History of Religions, Vol. 13 (1973-1974), p. 174: “. . . in practice the Jewish communities in the Roman empire seem to have reflected all the diversity and ambiguities that beset the sexual roles and attitudes of the dominant society.” He would however admit that the roles of women are in general more circumscribed in Judaism, especially in Palestine (see esp. p. 199).
21. As an extreme example, see the story told about two saints in Aboth de Rabbi Nathan A 8; tr. Judah Goldin, The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1953), pp. 51-52. Also Babylonian Talmud, Kiddushin 81b.
22. See Leonard Swidler, Women in Judaism (Metuchen, New Jersey The Scarecrow Press, 1976), esp. pp. 56-82.
23. David Daube, The New Testament and Rabbinic Judaism (London The Athlone Press, 1956), pp. 71-83, gives the texts and explains the argument. He would assert the high antiquity of the teaching of the androgynous creation on the basis of Philo and Mekilta Pisha 146. On Platonic influence, see Meeks, pp. 185-186.
24. The tradition of the rabbinic interpretation of Gen 1:27 is very diverse. It includes doctrines of sexuality which assume an intention of equality in the creation which was not carried out in the reality, so that only the male was “formed,” and the woman merely builded (Babylonian Talmud Ber. 61 a,b; Lr. 18 a). But Genesis Rabbah (Gen. R.), 14,2 insists on two formations and 18,2 appears to be a polemic against this interpretation of building Another interpretation proposes an androgynous creation (Gen. R. 8,1) and still another promises that the inequality will be remedied in the world to come (Gen. R. 9). These interpretations are for the most part credited to Amoraim, but Mark 10:2-10, Gal 3:28 and I Cor 11:2-12 are usually taken as witnesses to the antiquity of the discussion.
25. On women as followers and supporters of the Stoics and as Stoic philosophers see Arnold, #300, p. 270. On their role among the Epicureans, see Meeks, p. 172 and notes. Wealthy and prominent Gentile women, including the emperor’s daughter, appear throughout the Talmud and Midrashim as inquirers and patrons of rabbis (e.g., bSan 39a). Josephus frequently refers to the support of wealthy women proselytes and God-fearers; especially notable is the case of Helena, queen of Adiabene, Ant. xx,ii. On the role of women as disciples in Judaism, see Meeks, pp. 174-175; on its relation to early Chnstianity and its function in Luke-Acts, see Parvey, pp. 138-147.
26. Parvey, op. cit., pp. 138-147.
27. Report of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, 1,3. The Declaration appears to accept the assertion of the report on the basis of Mark 10:2-11: one assumes that an exegesis similar to that given by Daube (pp. 71-83) lies behind the conclusion. Stendahl insists that the passage must be taken to reflect “the given Jewish understanding of male and female,” p. 27.
28. Mt 21: 31 and 19:11-12, Report of the Pontifical Biblical Commission 1.3, although I do not find this argument entirely clear. See also the Pauline baptismal tradition which supersedes the sexual distinction of Gen 1:27 (Gal 3:28). Note Meeks’ comments on the cultural background, below, note 42
29. Declaration, par. 19.
30. See, e.g., Inheritance, Law of, Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. N.G.L. Hammond and H.H. Scullard (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970) But note that women do not inherit under Greek law.
31. Arnold, #300, p. 270, for Zeno, the conviction that men and women have the same nature extended to the idea that we should wear the same clothing, and only wear clothing for warmth (p. 288). Musonius Rufus, a Roman Stoic of the first century, expresses the conviction that woman can and must learn philosophy. Since virtue is the same in men and women, education should also be the same, and even work can be the same. See Cora E. Lutz, Musonius Rufus, “The Roman Socrates” (New Haven: Yale Umversity Press, 1947), pp. 30, 38-43, 42-49. But it was the Epicureans who actually seem to have included women on an equal basis. See above n. 25.
32. E.g. Woman is contrasted with man as symbols of sense perception and mind respectively; Qu.in Gen., passim, esp. 1 24-25: Qu.in Ex.1.7. Cf. Meeks, pp. 178-179.
33. E.g., Symposium, 181A-C; 191D-192A.
34. See especially lines 511-591.
35. See Klaus Thraede, “Frau,” in Realexikon für Antike und Christentum, Vol. VIII (Regensburg, 1970), col. 207: also Günter Haufe, “die Mysterien,” in J. Leipoldt and Walter Grundmann (eds.), Umwelt der Urchristentums (Berlin, 1965), pp. 101-126.
36. Declaration, par. 16.
37. Thraede speaks of “numerous priestesses” but without distinguishing their functions, both he and Haufe speak of a role of women in the initiation ceremonies of Eleusis, which role does not seem to be the equal of the dynastic priesthood of which Haufe also speaks (pp. 104-105). Evidence for women in high priestly offices is generally based upon iconographical rather than textual or epigraphical attestation, and is therefore highly ambiguous.
38. E.g., Lucian’s account of the Syrian Goddess and Apuleius’ account of the Isis cult in The Golden Ass give no evidence for priestesses, and epigraphical evidence is extremely scarce and ambiguous. The cult of Isis provides a possible exception, but here again, written evidence for the participation of women at high levels of priesthood is rare and ambiguous, but seems to be in keeping with the statements made above: see Sharon Kelly Heyob, The Cult of Isis among Women of the Greco-Roman World (Leiden E.J. Brill, 1975), pp. 95-97, also 110. The iconographical evidence Heyob adduces for the priestess who represents Isis herself and for the participation of men and women on an equal basis seems to me particularly ambiguous in view of the frequent occurrence of the female orant in early Christian iconography.
39. Minucius Felix, Octavius, 32: note also 33 which assumes that the Jewish liturgy of sacrifice, which had used temples and altars, had never been acceptable to God.
40. Justin, who does apply the word sacrifce (thysia) to the Eucharist likens it to the prayers offered by the “true Jews” of the captivity (Dialogue with Trypho, 117,2), making a careful distinction between this worship and the sacrificial liturgy of the temple. It is noteworthy that that part of the Eucharist to which the word sacrifice appears to apply here is the eucharistic prayer(117.3)
41. See Meeks, p. 179.
42. Robin Scroggs suggests that the formula rejects discrimination but admits distinction; “Paul and the Eschatological Woman: Revisited,” Journal of the Anglican Academy of Religion, Vol. 42, No. 3 (Sept., 1974), p. 533. But this idea cannot take into account the revision of Gen 1:27, which the formula cites, apparently according to the LXX, and rejects. See Krister Stendahl, The Bible and the Role of Women (Philadelphia: Fortress Press 1966), p. 32. On the function of this formula in the baptismal liturgy and the function of re-unification formulae as a counter-cultural force in the ancient world, see W.A. Meeks, pp. 180-183 and 165-167, also p. 207, where he characterizes the idea as an expression of realized eschatology, amounting to ”metaphysical rebellion” and “cosmic audacity.”
43. Meeks would see the role of women in the communities of the Pauline school as broader still, indeed quite unusual in antiquity (p. 198, see also p.199)
44. See Meeks p. 201. His resolution of what he ca1ls the “apparent self-contradictions in Paul’s response” into a decision to advocate functional equality but preserve symbolic distinction does not entirely convince me (pp.201-202)
45. Note Meek’s association of a threat to the male-female distinction with a threat to the ordered cosmos in the mind of antiquity (p. 179)
46. Biblical Commission Report 11, 3,111
47. Francine J. Cardman, ‘Women, Ordination and Tradition,” Commonweal, Vol. Clll, No. 26 (Dec. 17, 1976) pp. 808-809
48. See the comments of Porphyry, Julian, Libanius and Ammianua Marcellinus summarized in and/or quoted by Pierre de Labriolle, La Réaction paienne (Paris, 1942), pp. 284-285, 418, 432 (where Julian expresses scorn at Christians who are taught by their women!).
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The Institute is known for issuing academic reports and statements on relevant issues in the Church. These have included scholars’ declarations on the need of collegiality in the exercise of church authority, on the ethics of using contraceptives in marriage and the urgency of re-instating the sacramental diaconate of women.
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