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Women's Socioeconomoic Status and Religious Leadership in Asia Minor

In the first Two Centuries C.E.

by Katherine Bain

Publication Year: 2014

Moving beyond discussions of patriarchy and prescribed “women’s roles” in the Roman world—discussions that have relied too much on elite literary sources, in her view—Katherine Bain explores what inscriptional data from Asia Minor can tell us about the actual socioeconomic status of women in the first and second centuries C.E. Her findings suggest that outside of the prescriptive lenses of the upper classes, women were described, in honorary and funerary inscriptions, in terms that mirrored the socioeconomic status of men, suggesting that women’s leadership in social associations—and by implication in Jewish and Christian congregations as well—was even more frequent than has been imagined.

Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers

Series: Emerging Scholars

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x


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pp. xi-xii

Abbreviations of Inscriptional Sources

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pp. xiii-xiv

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pp. 1-38

Oppression of lower-status persons in the form of socioeconomic deprivation is widespread. The political struggle against oppression unites everyone interested in liberation and justice. Around the globe, women experience socioeconomic gender discrimination multiplied by race, class, age, religion, sexual preference, and ethnicity discrimination.1...

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1. Gender and Status

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pp. 39-58

In this chapter I review studies of texts about women’s religious status in Asia Minor in the first two centuries of the common era. While a few scholars have proposed that wealthy women held positions of leadership in antiquity, a dominant stream in scholarship maintains that women’s secondary status prevented or limited women’s leadership. Important variations among interpretations of texts arise from different approaches to the analysis of women’s history...

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2. Wealthy Women and Household Status

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pp. 59-96

I have argued that determinations of women’s religious status depend on understanding women’s status in such socioeconomic institutions as the household, patronage, and slavery. In this chapter I investigate relationships among household position, socioeconomic status, and religious status for (relatively) wealthy women who lived in Asia Minor in the first two centuries of the common era.1...

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3. Women Patrons

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pp. 97-136

In the preceding chapters, I have begun investigating the question of wealthy women’s religious leadership in Asia Minor in the first two centuries of the common era. I presented an approach based on historical materialist feminism, drawing on the model of kyriarchy to analyze sources about women’s religious status...

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4. Slave Women

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pp. 137-168

I argue that determination of women’s religious status depends on analysis of their socioeconomic status in the institutions of household, patronage, and slavery. In preceding chapters, I show how access to wealth and widowhood accompanied women’s status as socioeconomic heads of households and patronal leaders of political and religious groups...

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5. Conclusion: Socioeconomic Religious Status

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pp. 169-176

Women’s religious leadership, moral agency, and political status continue to be contested widely. Writing history is political and personal: we reconstruct our past from a position engaged in struggle to envision a better future. The history of women’s religious leadership early in the common era matters today because Christians and Jews read biblical texts and other literature from this era as authoritative texts. This was a historical period like many others: women participated in religious leadership and in struggles about that...


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pp. 177-200

Index of Names

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pp. 201-204

Index of Ancient Sources

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pp. 205-210

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781451479836
E-ISBN-10: 1451479832
Print-ISBN-13: 9781451469929
Print-ISBN-10: 1451469926

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: Emerging Scholars