Author

Ruth Adam

Date Approved

2006

Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department

History and Philosophy

First Advisor

Ron Delph

Abstract

Beginning in the earliest Christian churches in the first century and continuing in Christianity today, the religious role of women has been the subject of constant debate. Time and time again, the position of women in the church has been used to gauge orthodoxy, and delineating their proper roles has been the focus of numerous church councils, theologians, and religious authorities. However, unlike other church doctrines, the orthodox position of women has yet to be definitely established. Rather, it has been perpetually in flux, not only within the Catholic Church, but also among the many denominations of Christianity. As a result, Christian women who wish to dedicate their lives to some form of ministry are faced with the difficult question of where they can or should serve. How do we reconcile, for example, the apostle Paul’s statement in Galatians 3:28 that there is neither “male nor female” with his assertion that women were not to teach or speak in church?1 For this reason, I found it necessary to investigate the position of women in the early church to discover exactly what roles women held, how their roles changed, and the reason behind this change.

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