"The early church was 'by, for, about MEN--women were barely even there, much less significant players (and ESPECIALLY not leaders)."
[Note: This is a simple summary of the detailed data in the syllabus. Refer there for sources/discussion. Updated: 01/02/97]
The data is quite otherwise--the early church was PROBABLY dominantly female!
There several indications of this, in the data (NT, archeology, extrabiblical lit, sociology):
The early church was VERY MUCH "inclusive" of females--indeed, females CONSTITUTED a very large (maybe even majority) of the early church. They were a part of the Body of Christ and part of the leadership of that community.
- Numerically, they were a minority in the Greeco-Roman world, but a majority in the pre-Constantine church.
- One of the earliest pieces of 'high literature' the church produced--the gospel of Luke--was CLEARLY written with women readership in mind.
- Outside Palestine, Christianity was a "cult" (Galen called it a "philosophical school"!). Cults have ALWAYS spread first through the intelligentsia, and intelligentsia are always closely aligned with patrons. And patrons were mostly women in that day and age...
- The records of the earliest sites and house-churches feature prominent women leaders.
- The earliest pagan reference to Christian leadership (e.g. Pliny) is to women deacons, who were tortured for their faith.
- Early paintings and mosaics show females as a large part of Christian gatherings.
- Women Christians outlived their non-Christian counterparts by DECADES--due to the Christian ethics around abortion, later marriage, non-forced remarriage, medical care-giving...
- Early and Late Church Fathers refer to the large number of women in the church, AND TO their effectiveness at bringing their husbands 'into the fold'.
- We have already noted in many places the widespread female representation in early church leadership positions.
- Even widow-care was an early Christian priority! (Acts 6).
- The church was known to attract a high number of high-status women to its ranks.
The Christian ThinkTank...[http://www.christian-thinktank.com]