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A Woman's Place: House Churches In Earliest Christianity

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0800637774
ISBN-10: 0800637771
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University. She is a past president of the Catholic Biblical Association of America.

Margaret Y. MacDonald is Professor of Religious Studies at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, Canada.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Augsburg Fortress Publishers (October 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0800637771
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800637774
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,663 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
The Bible gives little mention to the women of the early Christian church, though surely they were around. What was their role in the church and how was the church integrated into their daily lives?

Until now, these questions were largely unanswered or answered, at best with conjecture. The three authors use a variety of evidence, both religious and secular, to construct a vivid description of the lives of these women, providing the reader with a fuller picture of the first few centuries of the Christian church. The authors weave together the evidence with insight and precision, giving a clear picture of the times.

A Woman's Place provides an overwhelming sense of community that women of the early church shared. During the first several centuries of Christianity, the church was centered on the home. This was the gathering place for worship.

As the home was the domain of women, women took a leading role in many aspects of the early church. Women were leaders, teachers and supporters of one another. They provided enormous amounts of nurturing and hospitality to one another.

Particularly fascinating are the descriptions of birthing and dining rituals. Early Christian women were segregated from the men, yet formed a strong community among themselves with their own ways of celebrating and worshipping.

Until now, the stories of early Christianity have been focused on the men of the church, primarily the apostles going out into the world to spread the good news. A Woman's Place honors the women of the early church, revealing their important role in providing the home environment where the good news could grow.

Armchair Interviews says: The authors deftly create an image of this world of two thousand years ago that brings new respect for the women held silent until now.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
GLEANING FROM A BOUNTIFUL HARVEST

Would that I had the breadth and depth of knowledge that these authors have. I'm glad I don't have to take a test on what I've read, but oh what I've gleaned from the bits and pieces I've picked up. Starting with an interest in the psychology (and therefore history) of women, and a long-standing sharing with a small study group at church, focusing on women in the Bible, I thought I had a pretty good understanding. But this feast humbles even as it delights.

What especially added to my feast? - the issue of slavery, the apparent rambunctious-ness of the house churches, the commemorative use of wine, even the funeral dinner - how contemporary that seemed. It wasn't news that women's earnings were important, but our group hadn't really examined the effect of class.

This is by no means a complete menu. For example, I made note of the observation that the death of young children evoked terrible grief, in spite of its being so common.

I confess, I did head to the summaries at the end of the chapters. I'm an academic, but it was still a hard go for me. The ranking of five reflects all the positives I've expressed here, but if someone is thinking of reading it, be prepared to dig into detailed substantiation.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A very readable study of early Christian history from a woman's point of view. Gives a new perspective on what an early liturgy would have been when it occurred in a private home but included more than the household living there (both masters' family and slaves) and welcomed other Christian believers free and slave. How did the presence of masters and slaves participating side by side influence their daily relationships? The presence of small children, breastfeeding women, women giving birth somewhere in the house affect the ambiance? Includes ample background information from secular sources in Roman society about the role of women and children, slaves and masters. Explains the basis for some of the comments in Paul's letters about women through an explanation of the roles of women at home in a private setting and in public settings. The house church blended public and private space and led to some of the difficulties. Helps the casual Scripture reader as well as those seeking insight to preach or teach.
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This is a scholarly but hardly dull survey of an important topic too long ignored by churchmen. Sister Carolyn Osiek knows her stuff, and the essays by others are equally informative. The multiple sources mean that there's occasional repetition of facts, but it's not a huge problem. I learned a great deal reading this, and I enjoyed the process.
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Format: Paperback
Good read before Rome trip
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