Rules And Roles For Women: Vocation And Order In The Apostolic Fathers -- By: Jacob J. Prahlow
SBJT 22:4 (Winter 2018) p. 77
Rules And Roles For Women: Vocation And Order In The Apostolic Fathers
Jacob J. Prahlow is Associate Pastor of Connections and Church-Planting at Rooftop Community Church, Saint Louis, Missouri. He earned a MTS in historical theology from St. Louis University and a MA in religion from Wake Forest University. Jacob and his wife, Hayley, have two children and numerous pets.
In the formative years between the time of the Apostles of Jesus and the Apologists of Christianity stand several texts which reflect the labor of early Church leaders as they attempted to outline acceptable ethics and what it meant to be the Christian Church. Long neglected, in recent decades scholars have turned to these writings—collectively called the Apostolic Fathers—with increased vigor and the recognition that these sources offer valuable insights into the post-New Testament era.1 Many of the recent studies on the Apostolic Fathers address questions of church order and the construction of authority in these writings.2 One realm which has received comparatively little attention, however, is the conceptions of women in the Apostolic Fathers. Studies of women in early Christianity have seen a tremendous growth since Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza’s publication of In Memory of Her in 1983.3 However, studies of women in the New Testament (NT), ordained women in early Christianity, and women in second through fifth century sources have received far more attention than conceptions of women in the Apostolic Fathers.4 The only substantial treatment of this topic comes in Christine Trevett’s Christian Women and the Time of the Apostolic Fathers.5
Several factors contribute to this relative neglect. First, other areas of study
SBJT 22:4 (Winter 2018) p. 78
are intrinsically more interesting for those studying women or early Christianity, such as what the NT says about women. Second, the relative lack of source materials for this period necessarily limits studies of women in the Apostolic Fathers. As Trevett writes, “The process of writing this study of Christian women and the time of the Apostolic Fathers has involved collating and commenting on fragments of evidence from disparate sources.”6 Third, other areas of study contain more interesting materials for those seeking to understand the conceptions and roles of women in early Christianity. The greater at...
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