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HUMANITIES 17) sources provide what at least three contributors refer to as a 'snapshot' of a given place, or person, at a given time. Kathleen A. Biddick takes the medium literally and advances the technology to the cinema in an attempt 'to trace a history of the cultural status of the pastoral' through an imaginative personal interpretation of two Hollywood versions of the story of Robin Hood. Her critique, which incorporates the psychological affects of the English loss of the Raj and of the events of the Gulf War, provides common ground for those many readers who have seen the films. Finally, in a carefully researched essay on the fishing families which provided Tegemsee Abbey in Bavaria with fish from 1443 to 1530, Richard C. Hoffman makes it quite clear 'that not only English Benedictines kept records with remarkably detailed raw materials for study of medieval peasant life.' His paper shows how Continental sources may yet be profitably exploited by applying Raftis's methodology to them. In fourteen different ways this book is a fitting tribute to the master, and to hismethod. (MICHAEL GERVERS) Margaret Y. MacDonald. Early Christian Women and Pagan Opinion: The Power ofthe Hysterical Woman Cambridge University Press. 276. us $54.95 cloth, us $19.95 paper This sensitively written and subtly argued book sheds new light on the position ofwomen in early Christianity by investigating the stereotypes of Christian women purveyed in pagan and early Christian texts through the lens ofsocial-scientific models ofgender relations. Women's lives under the Roman empire in the first three centuries of our era have received considerable scholarly scrutiny in recent years with the publication of important studies concerning their legal standing, social status, and religious roles Gane F. Gardner, Women in Roman Lawand Society, 1986; Ross S. Kraemer, Her Share of the Blessings, 1992), and within this period early Christianity is a particularly rich arena for scholarly investigation (Elizabeth A. Clark, Women in the Early Church, 1983; Jo Ann McNamara, A New Song: Celibate Women in the First Three Christian Centuries, 1983; Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza, In Memory ofHer: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins, 198)). MacDonald, known for her earlier work on Pauline conununities (The Pauline Churches, 1988), integrates these two fields of study, often only tangentially aware of each other, by drawing on anthropological models to illuminate women's lives in the early Christian church as they are visible in the writings of both Christian and pagan authors of the early Roman empire. .MacDonald defines her study as an interpretation of the place of Christian women in pagan and Cluistian public opinion in the first two 174 LETTERS IN CANADA 1996 centuries of our era and she sets out the methodological tools of her task in a lengthy introduction. She uses the findings of cultural anthropology, especially studies of modern Mediterranean regions, to analyse the lives of early Christian women in terms of the gendered dichotomy that associates men with honourJ the public sphereJ and legitimate power and authority in antiquity, and assigns to women the corresponding values of shame, the private sphere, and illegitimate power and authority. Her detailed discussionofthe limits and possibilities ofsocial-scientific models isextremely valuable and sets a new standard of methodological sophistication for scholars investigating the lives of women in Graeco-Roman antiquity. Part 1 assembles and analyses pagan comments and criticisms concerning early Christian women in the second century CE. The texts MacDonald considers in this section are all well known (Pliny, Epistles 10.96-97;Fronto, Octavius 8-9; Apuleius, Metamorphoses 9.14;Lucian,The Passi1:zgofPeregrinus 12-1); Galen, On Jews and Christians [ed. R. Walzer, 1949],15;Origen, Contra Ce[sus), but her re-examination yields substantial new insights about the prominence of women of all classes within the early church and its ministry . Using cross-cultural anthropological comparison, she argues thatpagan depictions of Christian women's immorality express anxiety about Christianity itself and its threat to the pagan social order. In a discussion marked throughout by sensitivity to the wide variation in pagan opinion concerning early Christian women, MacDonald suggests that women's limited authority in Graeco-Roman culture served the early Christian movement by allowing women...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 173-174
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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