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Women In The Early Christian Communities: Equal or Oppressed

            In the ancient world, there was a strong sense of one's gender. However, it was not always determined by their biological sex. Gender was seen as a fundamental social attribute. Males were the dominant gender, ruling over the females. But men could have female characteristics and in that sense be dominated by more masculine males. So it would seem necessary to indicate whom I am speaking about in this paper when I say "men" and "women." This analysis of women in the early Christian communities will strictly be referring to men and women by the biological definitions of the two. So how exactly were women treated in the ancient world? Some might argue they were less oppressed then than they have been in recent times, while still others would say women were incredibly dominated and controlled by their husbands in ancient times. By reading further into the subject, it is clear that both of these arguments each hold some truth, and by investigating analytical texts on the subject, I will gain a clearer understanding of how women were actually treated in the ancient world.
             Ancient ideologies of gender shifted some during the first and second century. During the time that the apocalyptic mentality was popular, many people rationalized that if the end was near, why not treat people equally (at least men and women)? This was Christ's feeling too, that all people should receive the same amount of respect. In Galatians 3:27-28 Paul writes, "As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus." However, Paul still claimed that there was a difference between men and women and it was to be maintained. In Paul's view, "to eradicate that difference was unnatural and wrong" (Ehrman 1, p.368). Paul insisted that women should continue to wear head coverings when they prayed but he also argued that women could and should participate openly in church proceedings alongside men.

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