This article deals with the problem of the place, role and status of woman in Christian community of the second century. Based on the literary evidence of the apologists and critics of Christianity of the designated period, the author comes to the conclusion that women’s role in the Christian mission was of great importance. Christian discourse proclaimed equality of men and women (Gal. 3:28) in doctrinal aspect, and that led to a change in the status of woman within public/male – private\female dichotomy: hence woman played an important role in the public space of the Christian community. Moreover, changes concerned also private life of a woman. The author explores how early Christian asceticism influenced women’s choice between marriage or celibate life and, thereby caused the conflict with usual ideal of female identity and behavior. The author disputes the assertion that a married woman, unlike an unmarried one, being imprisoned in the framework of a patriarchal family union, was losing the opportunity to manifest an active religious position. On the contrary, she became the active missionary in private, household space. Christian idea of overcoming male and female was implemented also at the level of organizational and social practice of community. In this regard it is necessary to describe socio-cultural roles of Christian women of the 2nd century: ministry of widows, virgins, deaconesses. In connection with the inceptive process of institutionalization of the Church only these three ministries kept the value and were institutionalized. Thus, the author comes to the conclusion that the Christianity essentially changed woman's life in private and public space, but did not produce full women's emancipation and did not destroy gender differentiation of social space, traditional for antique society.

Key words: woman, Christianity, Christian apologetics, female ministries, public/male – private/female dichotomy, social roles of women.

DOI: 10.22250/2072-8662.2018.3.5-10

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About the author


Lidiya V. Schneider – Postgraduate student at the department of Philosophy of Religion and

Religious Studies of Lomonosov Moscow State University;

build. 4, 27 Lomonosov prospect, Moscow, 119192;