"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):

  1. Numerically, they were a minority in the Greco-Roman world, but a majority in the pre-Constantine church.

  2. One of the earliest pieces of 'high literature' the church produced--the gospel of Luke--was CLEARLY written with women readership in mind.

  3. 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...

  4. The records of the earliest sites and house-churches feature prominent women leaders.

  5. The earliest pagan reference to Christian leadership (e.g. Pliny) is to women deacons, who were tortured for their faith.

  6. Early paintings and mosaics show females as a large part of Christian gatherings.

  7. Women Christians outlived their non-Christian counterparts by DECADES--due to the Christian ethics around abortion, later marriage, non-forced remarriage, medical care-giving...

  8. 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'.

  9. We have already noted in many places the widespread female representation in early church leadership positions.

  10. Even widow-care was an early Christian priority! (Acts 6).

  11. The church was known to attract a high number of high-status women to its ranks.
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.


The Christian ThinkTank...[https://www.Christianthinktank.com] (Reference Abbreviations)