Women and Religion in the First Christian Centuries focuses on religion during the period of Roman imperial rule and its significance in women's lives. It discusses the rich variety of religious expression, from pagan cults and classical mythology to ancient Judaism and early Christianity, and the wide array of religious functions fulfilled by women. The author analyses key examples from each context, creating a vivid image of this crucial period which laid the foundations of western civilization. The study challenges the concepts of religion and of women in the light of post-modern critique. As such, it is an important contribution to contemporary gender theory. In its broad and interdisciplinary approach, this book will be of interest to students of early religion as well as those involved in cultural theory.
Introduction. i. What Is 'Woman'? ii. 'Religion' as a Category in the Ancient World iii. The Context of Pre-traditionalization Part One: The Setting - Ancient Greece and Hellenization 1. Ancient Rome and Women's Lives, 2. Women within Judaism and Christianity Part Two: Women in Narrative and Religious Practice 3. The Graeco-Roman Imagination 4. Gods and Goddesses 5. The Religion of Jewish Women 6. From Diversity to Conformity Part Three: Religion and Gender 7. Magna Mater and the Vestal Virgins 8. Wisdom, Lilith and Mothers 9. Sisters in Christ or Daughters of Eve? Epilogue