Monday, August 12, 2013

'Christians airbrushed women out of history'

‘Christians airbrushed women out of history’ 
A band of forgotten women were hugely influential in the rise of Christianity, a five-year study has found.

But Professor Kate Cooper, from The University of Manchester, says their contribution has been neglected by the mainstream churches in a new book out this month.

The study identifies dozens of forgotten Christian women who were influential in the first and second centuries, during a period when Christianity was - in some respects - more progressive towards women than today.

According to Professor Cooper, women played a central role in spreading the new Christian faith through informal friendship and family networks.

Their authority within Christian communities was earned through their role as parents, community organizers, and small business owners.

One, Lydia the Purple-seller of Philippi remembered in the Bible's Book of Acts, was the first person to sponsor St Paul.

Another woman, Perpetua, who lived in Carthage at the end of the second century, was famous at the time for refusing to denounce her faith, choosing martyrdom against her father's wishes.

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