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Bible themes & women


The status of women in the Bible
and in early Christianity

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bullet "As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active power of the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of a woman comes from defect in the active power...." Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica,Q92, art. 1, Reply Obj. 1.

bullet "And a man will choose...any wickedness, but the wickedness of a woman...Sin began with a woman and thanks to her we all must die" Ecclesiasticus, 25:18, 19 & 33. 1

bullet "And I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her." Ecclesiastes 7:26, from the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament)

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Topics covered in this section:

The position of women within ancient Jewish and early Christian societies can logically be discussed in three eras:

bullet During Old Testament times, when the roles of women were severely restricted;
bullet Passages treating women as inferior to men

bullet Passages describing women in negative terms, as equal to men, and as leaders
bullet During Jesus' ministry, when he preached a revolutionary message about gender roles;
bullet After the execution of Jesus, (circa 30 CE), when the developing church gradually reduced the status of its women members.

To this, we have added a fourth essay, listing more recent views:

bullet From the 2nd to 16th century: statements by Christian leaders.

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  1. Ecclesiasticus (a.k.a. the Book of Sirach) is part of the Apocrypha. It is considered part of the official canon of the Bible by the Roman Catholic Church.
  2. The Veritorium has a list of Bible verses pertaining to women at:
  3. Call to Action, a Roman Catholic group, has an essay titled "Women in the Bible and the Lectionary" at: 
  4. Susan C. Lau, "Bibliography on Women and Religion," at:
  5. "Women in ancient Christianity: The new discoveries," PBS program, at:
  6. "Men and Women of the Bible" at:
  7. "Sunshine for Women: Book Summaries," at:
  8. "Christians for Biblical Equality" promotes the concept that the Bible calls for gender equality. See:

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amazon.gif (6895 bytes)Books on the the status of women in ancient times:

You can order books dealing with the status of women in ancient times, from "," the world's largest virtual bookstore. Just click on any of the books listed below. The ordering process is simple. You can charge the purchase on your credit card using a safe, secure data transmission.

bullet Elaine Fantham, et. al., "Women in the Classical World," Oxford University Press, New York NY (1994). "Written by leading experts in the fields of ancient history and art history, women's studies, and Greek and Roman literature, the book's chronological arrangement allows the changing roles of women to unfold over a thousand year period, beginning in the eighth century B.C.E." This book deals only with women in ancient Greece and Rome.

bullet Tal Ilan, "Jewish Women in Greco-Roman Palestine," Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., (1996)

bullet Heidi Parales, "Hidden Voices: Biblical Women and Our Christian Heritage," Smyth & Helwys, (1998) She has a web site at: which describes the book and has a fascinating questionnaire about the role of women in the Bible.

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See a news feed on women's issues.
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Copyright © 1997 to 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2013-JUL-12
Author: B.A. Robinson

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