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Novum Testamentum XXXVI, 4 (1994), © EJ.

Brill, Leiden

WOMEN'S A U T H O R I T Y ROLES
IN PAUL'S CHURCHES:
C O U N T E R C U L T U R A L O R CONVENTIONAL?
by
WENDY COTTER
Chicago

Gone are the days when scholars like Albert Schwegler in his
1846 History of Post-Apostolic Times would conclude that Paul's
entreaties to Euodia and Syntyche in Phil. 4:2 must be symbolic
references to two 'parties' in Philippi because a literal interpretation, i.e. entreaties to two women, would give the passage a "strange
character".1 Today, it is generally uncontested that certain women
in Paul's community exercised authority, and that this authority
extended over men as well as women.
If we are to be specific in identifying such women, an examination of Paul's letters brings six women leaders into view:2

1

"So ist man von hier aus versucht, auch jene zwei räthselhaften Frauennamen, statt für den Namen historischer Individuen, was der ganzen Stelle einen
äusserst seltsamen Charakter geben würde, fur typische Partheinamen zu
halten", Albert Schwegler, Nachapostolisches Zeitalter (2 Bände; Graz, Austira:
Akademische Druck, 1846), 2. 133-135. I am indebted for this reference to J.B.
Lightfoot, who does not quote its entirety, but whose translation, "strange meaning", I have used here. See J.B. Lightfoot, &. Paul's Epistle to the Philippians
(Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson, 1987), 170.
2
Paul refers to thirteen women in all (Apphia [Phi 2]; Chloê [1 Cor 1:11];
Prisca [Rom 16:3-4; 1 Cor 16:19]; Euodia and Syntyche [Phil 4:2]; Phoebe [Rom
16:1]; Mary [Rom 16:6]; Tryphaena and Tryphosa [Rom 16:12]; Rufas' mother
[Rom 16:13]; an unnamed lady referred to as the sister of Nereus [Rom 16:15];
and Olympas [Rom 16:15]). The latter seven do not stand out as leaders. Mary
is said to have worked hard among the churches (Rom 16:6); and the pair,
Tryphaena and Tryphosa, are designated as "workers in the Lord" (Rom 16:12).
Rufus' mother, Julia, the sister of Nereus and Olympas are mentioned affectionately, but there is no evidence of their authority role or particular activity in
the community.

W O M E N ' S AUTHORITY ROLES IN P A U L ' S C H U R C H E S

351

Apphia (Phi 2):
It has been assumed that Apphia must be Philemon's wife
because her name follows his.3 This argument would be more com­
pelling if Paul's address named only these two. But in fact, it is
more accurate to say that Apphia's name occupies a median posi­
tion in a list of three addressees. Furthermore, one would think that
Paul might signal that Philemon and Apphia are a couple by link­
ing them through complementary epithets as he does with Aquila
and Prisca in Rom 16:3, "my fellow workers" (τους συνεργούς μου).
As it is, each of the three receive separate appellations: Philemon
is the "fellow-worker"; Apphia is the "sister"; Archippus is the
"fellow soldier". But the person who is given the masculine
counterpart of Apphia's epithet is Timothy whom Paul calls
"brother". Actually, when one weighs the relative importance of
the three epithets used for the addressees, it is Apphia's that holds
most prestige. And Paul only uses the epithet "sister" again with
Phoebe from Cenchreae, a woman Paul describes as a deacon and
a patroness/protectress (προστάτις) to many and also to him (Rom
16:1-2).
Finally, Paul's address to these three continues on to include
"the church that meets in your house". Thus, the listing of Apphia
and Archippus belongs to this recognition of the church organiza­
tion in Philemon's house. The deference to Apphia and Archippus
then, would seem to function as a salutation to the main leaders of
that otherwise faceless assembly.4
Chloe(l Cor 1:11):
Paul attributes the news about division in the Corinthian com­
munity from "Chloe's people" (ύπό των Χλόης), John Hurd has
argued that if the expression is translated " the family of Chloe" we
3
E.g. H.C.G. Moule, Colossian and Philemon Studies (London: Pickering and
Ingles, 1986), 304 n. 13; Eduard Lohse, Coiossians and Philemon (trans. W.R.
Poehlmann and RJ. Karris; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1971), 190. For F.F. Bruce,
"Apphia and Archippus ... were presumably members of Philemon's household,
probably his wife and his son" (The Epistletothe Coiossians,toPhilemon, andtothe
Ephesians [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1984], 206). There is no rationale given
for his conclusion.
4
This fact seems completely obvious to Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza, In
Memory of Her (New York: Crossroads, 1987), 177.

15:32. it is unclear 5 John C. "Priscilla (or Prisca) is the feminine equivalent of a cognomen" (Rank and Status in the World of the Caesars and St. This church would be situated in Ephesus since Paul has already indicated that he is writing the letter from that city (1 Cor. Would he continue to identify certain converts by reference to their non-Christian owner or matron? It is far less strained to recognize in Paul's easy phrase his presumption that the whole Corinthian community will know who his informants are because Chloe is a prominent woman in the community. New Zealand: Whitcoulls. to suppose that Chloe does not even belong to the community would cast Paul's phrasing in a most ungracious light. Yet there must be some credibility to her name.4): While Luke preserves her memory using the diminutive Priscilla (Acts 18:2. Macon G.26) Paul refers to her with the formal Prisca (1 Cor 16:19. 18). What her role might be is not at all defined. Furthermore. Christchurch. or why would he take care to identify his source as he does.5 This argument only serves to emphasize the fact that for Paul.6 In his closing remarks. it is Chloe who is the one who will be so well known by the Corinthian community that all he need do is use the vague "των" to identify his informants. whatever their activities have been. 48. . Paul tells the community that Prisca and Aquila are worthy not only of his thanks but the thanks of "all the Chur­ ches of the Gentiles". Rom 16:3). This couple is mentioned again in Rom 16:3-4 where Paul acknowledges that they "risked their necks" (τον ¿αυτών τράχηλον ύπέθηχαν) for him. 1983). Clearly. and then proceed to address the difficulty with no hint of doubt about the accuracy of the report? Prisca (1 Cor 16:19. Paul sends the Corin­ thian community greetings from Prisca and her husband Aquila who have a church in their house (1 Cor. Hurd Jr. The Origin of First Corinthians (repr. Paul [University of Canterbury Publications No.. 1982].: Mercer University. if the phrase is translated "the household of Chloe' ' there is no need to make that presumption. Rom 16:3. 18. However. esp. 1 Cor 16:8). 16:19). 6 E. 29. Judge observes that. Since the destination of Rom 16 is not secure. Aquila and Prisca have a high profile in the Christian community. 37.352 WENDY COTTER may grant that Chloe might have been a Christian.A. n.A.

2): Paul shows deference to both these Christians by giving each one a separate invocation. Dodd. The Epistle of Paul to the Romans (London and Glasgow: Hodder and Stoughton. 1932). " I entreat Euodia. The respect Paul exhibits toward each woman's position. 25). together with a request for a third member to arbitrate. Fontana. Phoebe {Kom 16:1-2): It is argued by some that Rom 16 is a letter of recommendation that has been secondarily attached to the letter to the Romans. "Claudius". he asks an unnamed "yoke-fellow" (σύζυγος) to arbitrate.WOMEN'S AUTHORITY ROLES IN PAUL'S CHURCHES 353 whether Aquila and Prisca are still in Ephesus or have returned to Rome. At the same time.8 They then travelled with Paul and subsequently setded in Ephesus (Acts 18:26). 8 One of Claudius' first acts was to order all Jews to leave Roma due to the fighting that had broken out in the city "at the instigation of Chrestus" (Suetonius.H. "They have labored side by side with me. I entreat Syntyche". Paul's description suggests that Euodia and Syntyche belonged to a team of men and women evangelizers. C. a matter of significance hats divided two old friends and Paul does not want to stand in the middle as judge. Paul joins both in his praise. The matter that has now divided the two fellow workers cannot be so severe as to destroy the community because Paul is clearly refraining from giving advice on the specific matter at issue. the situation is serious enough to warrant a public note in this community letter. 7 For a review of the evidence for Romans 16 as a separate letter of introduc­ tion.7 The argument for Ephesus as the destination would be sup­ ported by Paul's former reference to the couple's church there (1 Cor 16:19). . 12-18. and the level of concern he shows in making a public appeal to them suggests that both Euodia and Syntyche hold some office of distinction in the Philippian community. The Twelve Caesars. Euodia and Syntyche (Phil 4. Clearly. Clement and the rest of the fellow workers whose names are written in the book of life" (Phil 4:3). Furthermore. this reference is supported by the tradi­ tions of Acts where it is said that Paul met the couple in Corinth after they had been forced from Rome by the edict of Claudius (Acts 18:l-3). and for a detailed discussion of its destination. Instead.

Canada. "benefactor" instead of its former rendition of "helper". but is also a recognized benefactor. brother. "our sister". . when scholars are trying to reconstruct the social reality of early Christian communities. The new RSV correcdy translates the word. "Women Patrons in Pauline Churches" (MA thesis: University of Windsor. women are on an equal footing with men. he will call Apphia and Phoebe his sisters. husband or son. "deacon" and "patron/benefactor/protector". When Paul recognizes special members of the churches with the epithets of "co-worker". In the light of the male dominated society of the Mediterranean world of first century. Were they boldly liberating for women and men in abolishing the sexist restrictions of their times? This question can only be answered if it is clear what actual parameters for women's involvement existed in the cities where these Christian communities existed.354 WENDY COTTER Whether the destination of the letter is Ephesus or Rome. Just as he calls Timothy his brother. 18-32. encouraged and praised women for their exercise of leadership in his communities. these women leaders might seem to represent a new countercultural movement inaugurated by Christian groups. Only then can we judge whether the roles of these women do seem to stand out as countercultural. Phoebe's own city of provenance is clear: Paul introduces her as a deacon from Cenchreae. is described as a προστάτις. 1989). It would appear that Paul provided women with an open avenue for their involvement and. That is the task of this paper. The status of Phoebe. these conclusions carry important implications for the reconstructions of the earliest Christian communities. The research of Carolyn Whelan has shown that the usual contexts for προστάτις also suggest a protectress. Paul gives to these women the same affectionate and honourable tides that he will give to men. Particularly at this time. Such women kept their pro­ tégés insulated from financial difficulties by their benefactions and/or through the exercise of their influence in powerful networks of family and friends.9 Paul acknowledges that this deacon has been a protectress/benefactor to many and also to him (Rom 16:2). Paul never situates any of these women in their relation to a man. Furthermore. unlike the androcentric organizations of his day. their father. We will first identify 9 Caroline Frances Whelan. Thus Phoebe's status is notable because she is not holding an office within the community.

. D. Then. Morton and James McLennan (1964). since the opinio communis is still divided. we will decide whether the leadership in Paul's communities appears countercultural or conventional in character. style and even vocabulary have all been contrasted with Paul's accepted letters.G. Adolf Hilgenfeld (1875). O'Brien (1982). Holtzmann (1872).F. George E. Bruce (1984). Bultmann (1921). Cannon (1983). A thorough discussion of the history of the problems together with the major scholars' standing on each side of the argument is provided by Raymond F. Wilfrid Harrington (1975).D. let us allow the ancient presupposition to hold and consider Colossae to represent the city of Apphia. E. A Disciple's Reworking ofAn Earlier. C. Walter Brujard (1973). 171-208. Mark Kiley (1986). The dispute over the destination of Rom 16 means that some scholars suppose that Prisca and Aquila have 10 Raymond Brown estimates that sixty percent of scholars addressing the matter conclude that Coiossians is not Paul's ("The Pauline Heritage in Colossians/Ephesians: The Church as Christ's Body to Be Loved". Hobson (1968).WOMEN'S AUTHORITY ROLES IN PAUL'S CHURCHES 355 the dominating culture/s in the cities represented by these women leaders in Paul's communities. 4:9. the seaport near Corinth. Letters That Paul Did Not Write: The Epistle to the Hebrews and The Pauline Pseudepigrapha (Wilmington. Charles Masson (1950). The difficulty her is that the date and authorship of Coiossians have been issues of serous scholarly dispute since the first challenges of Edward Evanson in 1805. Coiossians as Dependent on the Author ofEphesians: H. D. B. Eichhorn (1812). The Prevalent Culturels in the Six Cities Colossae is most frequendy assumed to be the home of Apphia since the names "Onesimus" and "Archippus" appear in Col. 47-60). R. F. Prisca and her husband have a church at Ephesus. William Wake (1948). The leader Chloe is a Corinthian. Patrick V. McDonald (1980). Moule (1968). Theological content. Lohse (1971). An Authentic Letter of Paul: Martin Dibelius (1913). Martin Rist (1972). Heinrich Ewald (1857). H.D. Günther Bornkamm (1948). Donald Senior (1985).10 Yet.F. Otto Kuss (1971). In the light of that evidence. 1984]. 17 respectively. Donald Guthrie (1962). Saunders (1967). Phoebe comes from Cenchreae. Peter T. The Churches the Apostles Left Behind [New York: Paulist. Andrew J. Coiossians as Inauthentic: F. 1988).C.J. Baur (1845). Delaware: Glazier. Shorter Letter by Paul: Christian Weisse (1855). C. Reginald Fuller (1966). James Efird (1980). we will explore the general social parameters afforded to women against that cultural backdrop. Ferdinand Hitzig. E. A. As a brief example of the scholarly division: A. John Knox (1935). J. Franz-Josef Steinmetz (1969). Rogers (1980). Ernest W. Ernst Lohmeyer (1968). An Interpolation with An Authentic But Unknown Letter of Paul: Johannes Weiss (1917). Collins.

The Annals 14. Cenchreae. Colossae Together with Laodicea and Hierapolis. Atticus 5. Colossae was famous for its own particular red.11 In the Imperial period Colossae dwindled to a small town. Tenney Frank. Colossae was the third member of this Phrygian trio of cities famous for dyed goods and woolen garments. Princeton. called Colossene. 1936). Philippi.15 it must never have recovered. Left in ruins for a hundred years. If Colossae was also struck down. 12 . Its former name. 821. it was made into a Roman colony by Julius Caesar in 44 BCE. Therefore. The scarcity of evidence about this town does not allow us to make any firm statement about its population or its dominant culture.12.356 WENDY COTTER returned to Rome now that Claudius' ban has been lifted. Cicero. 11 Strabo. or the influence that nearby Laodicea had on its own life. T.J.R.S. overshadowed by Laodicea just eleven miles away. in which fullers. 12. Princeton University. a sort of Laodicean Cloth Hall?15 In 60 or 61 C. Ephesus and Rome. 1950). 4. Broughton remarks. 13 T. Laodicea suffered a severe earthquake. 47-48. centuries after the supposed event.7. Natural History 5. 564. 19 Orosius.14 Due to its notable wealth the city managed its own reconstruction without outside appeals for financial aid.21.R.8. See die excursus on Colossian history in E. Corinth The former Greek city was razed in 146 BCE by the Roman general Mummius. this ancient author reports around 414 CE. Roman Rule in Asia Minor (2 vols. Pliny the Elder. Norice should be taken of the emporium at Laodicea. Broughton. 6 vols. 14 Tacitus. N. Lohse. 1.S. However. It is not heard of again. Laodicea was the new juridical center12 and became a large prosperous commercial center as well. Therefore. Rome too will be considered as one of the cities connected to a woman leader in Paul's communities. 2. dyers(?). An Economic Survey ofAncient Rome (ed. "Roman Asia Minor".16. Corinth. the six cities are: Colossae. Coiossians and Philemon. See a?sp David Magie. 126. 8-9.E. Adoersus Paganos 7.105. and Orosius (circa 414 CE) records that it was.27. and makers of one-piece garments were all concerned: could it have been a central market. 785-786. Baltimore: John Hopkins Press.

20 It was first settled by orders of Mark Anthony when he named it Colonia Victrix Philippensium.36) and issued its own coins i with Greek inscriptions. the location 16 Strabo 8. The west was used for trade with Asia. was changed to Colonia Laus Julia Corinthiensis. J. he struck coins in remembrance of that victory and he renamed the city Colonia Iulia Augusta Philippensium. After Augustus' triumph over Anthony. Thessalonica did not accept Lathi as its official language. Larsen.42.21 Ephesus Unlike Philippi and Corinth. Rather.6. But Roman culture was already exerting an influence in the prominent and wealthy Roman patrons who came to take up residence in that city.18 There was a naval station on the eastern side. 20 Digest 50. 8. 369. 446. Ephesus was a thriving center of business and trade. Natural History 4. 380. Augustus dispossessed Anthony's landholders and gave the property to his own veterans.O. the city was taken over by the Romans in 133 BCE. In fact.16 Numismatic evidence and other inscriptions indicate that the city was organized according to Latin custom with the duoviri as highest magistrates.369.A. " Strabo 8. ' 'Roman Greece' '. From the fact that both Greek and Latin appear on the coins the populace was a mixture of Latin and Greek-speaking people. 4.335. Ephesus had not been refounded by Roman veterans.15. described by Strabo as having a village and a harbour. 21 Larsen.W O M E N ' S AUTHORITY ROLES IN PAUL'S CHURCHES 357 Ephyra. 443-453. 17 . Philippi This was a Macedonian colony of Rome19 with the lus Italicum. 19 Pliny the Elder. An Economic Survey of Ancient Rome. although Pergamum was the actual capital of Asia. "Roman Greece". Cenchreae It is the seaport seven miles east of Corinth. it was Ephesus that was the true center.17 Strabo claims that many were freedmen. Thessalonica was a free city (Pliny. In contrast. Natural History 4.

20. Conclusion Had these six cities represented six different dominant cultures.24 The list of public works in Ephesus that were financed by prominent Romans is proof enough of the dominance of the Roman presence there. 24 Plutarch. 22 The treatment of Ephesus is largely dependent on the research of T. It follows that the discussion of cultural parameters generally available to women within the cities should address the expectations within Roman culture during the Imperial period.R. passim. Atticus 5.25 So. passim. the evidence shows that. Ephesus was still an Asian city. David Magie. in Society and in Politics I.23 In Augustus' time. the scope of one article would not allow the investigation we have proposed. "Roman Asia Minor". B.22 Anthony chose Ephesus for his headquarters in 33 BCE. 23 Cicero. Roman Women and the Home: The Matrona Although both Greek and Roman women were mistresses of the household. Broughton. Antony. The Roman Woman's Role in the Home. all the other cities were heavily Romanized. only Ephesus and Nicea of all the cities of Asia were permitted to dedicate sacred precincts to Caesar due to their prominence. Yet. a dominance that had been at work for over one hundred years prior to Paul's visit there. "Roman Asia Minor'*. . 24. Roman culture gave special prominence to the role. 68. the Roman culture had a pronounced influence. However. 753.13.S.1. the prominence of the Romans who resided in the city and the power of their patronage over the one hundred year period indicate that among the cultures that thrived there. Cassius Dio. unlike Philippi and Corinth which had been reconstructed and repopulated by Roman veterans.358 WENDY COTTER of the Asian treasury and the residence of the proconsul. Roman Rule in Asia Minor. 51.6. the dominant culture was clearly Roman. with the exception of the problematic case of Colossae. 25 Broughton. Rome Although in the Imperial period a myriad of cultures had come to Rome.

Greek houses were designed so that the women's part of the house is separated from that used by men for socializing with their friends. a home is not much more than four walls and a roof.29 As we pass in. "The Role of the Wife as Custos".E. Pearce. the first century architect under Julius Caesar and Augustus.H. 33. of which one is called the thalamus. See also Susan Treggiari. London: Heinemann. Of course. 186.WOMEN'S AUTHORITY ROLES IN PAUL'S CHURCHES 359 The day after a Roman girl was married. 1962) 2. there is the Great Hall in which the ladies sit with the spinning women. 1343-1354. 29 Vitruvius.26 The Roman notion of the wife as guardian of the home included not only her responsibility for the goods of the household.H. Vitruvius: The Ten Books on Architecture.27 The difference between Roman and Greek ideas of a woman's place in the home is reflected to some degree in the plan of the typical Roman house. but also her authority to watch over the virtue of those who lived and worked there. Morgan. On Architecture (trans. According to Vitruvius. 1988). But when people are wealthy. Frank Granger. Vitruoius: The Ten Books on Architecture (New York: Dover. The bedrooms empty out into the atrium. 28 See the illustrations by Herbert Langford Warren in M.146-156. An examination of the floorplans of wealthy homes in Pompeii. the large open area for the welcoming of visitors. 1960). they demonstrate both the conventions and excesses permitted within their culture. Morgan.2-4. Right and left of the recesses are the bedchambers. a ceremony was held in which she assumed her new role as matrona and mater families of the household. "Roman Marriage". For an illustration of the Greek house described by the architect see M. 2 vols. These houses stand in clear contrast to the homes constructed by proportionately wealthy people of Greek/hellenistic cultural sensibilities. the other the amphithalamus. such as that of the House of the Surgeon and the House of Epidius Rufus28 shows that in the Roman house bedrooms are located with no special division of the men's and women's quarters. ed. for the poor person. Civilization of the Ancient Mediterranean. Michael Grant and Rachel Kitzinger (3 vols. a poem in which the poet pretends he is the master of ceremonies at the wedding of Manlius Torquatus and Junia Aurunculeia. Round the colonnades are the ordinary 26 T. Poorer families must have found their own equivalent. Éranos 72 (1974) 16-33.V. In more affluent houses. 27 "The Role of the Wife as Custos9*. the ceremony would have included the presentation of the domestic staff and the keys to the household. Pearce analyses Catullus 61. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. . 176. 3.

Roman culture did allow women to join men at dinner without any shadow of indecency. 186). whereas the presence of women with men at a Roman dinner party would be of itself decent. This will be borne out by other Roman testimony as we shall see.31 But one must ask why Vitruvius would introduce the idea of a division on his own. 258-265. Dio 56. Nevertheless.G.. it would be considered immodest and shocking in a strictly Greek cultural context. Similarly. It is clear. the Greek call andrones the halls where the men's banquet's take place. Clearly. Ovid. Vitruvius. that the exclusion of women from dinners was considered ordinary decent behaviour among the Greeks. the most edifying virtue that Romans chose for the epitaphs and eulogies of deceased spouses was the famous Roman concordia.30 Some classical scholars have questioned whether the second section of the house was really a second area for general entertaining.8. and for the servants who attend them and assist in the amusements. Romans did not divide the house to separate women's living quarters from those of the men. Now these peristyles are called the men's block.. 1916). This part is called the women's quarter. This dramatic difference between the two culturer means that. In these halls men's banquets are held. The Roman Notion of Marriages as a Partnership The Roman marriage was also distinct in its emphasis on partnership.1-5. modern ideas of equality can not hold for the Roman matron in the Imperial period. Vitruvius demonstrates the need to explain to his Roman readers a difference in cultural practice.360 WENDY COTTER dining-rooms.. 1.1 and Family 14. Tacitus reports the speech of Valerius Messalinus in the Senate defending the . 32 E.*2 It refers to that 30 Vitruvius must explain the meaning the Greeks give to their term andrones because in Roman usage.18. Cicero. The Greek House (Cambridge: University.3. For it was not the custom for women to join men at dinner. the same word was used for a small corridor (Morgan. These buildings have splendid approaches and doorways of suitable dignity Halls and square entrances face the south that there may be ample room for four triclinia. Tristia 3.2. especially when separate entertaining was not the general practice among the Romans. however. It was a normal practice.. for in them men meet without interruption from the women . Next to this is a larger block of buildings with more splendid peristyles . Atticus. Second. gynaeconites. because women are excluded. the bedrooms and the servants' rooms. 31 See the discussion in Bertha Carr Rider. To be sure.

Humanities Research Centre. ed. 99-113. per mutuam caritatem et inuicem se anteponendo . For use of concordia by the imperial family to describe ideal familial relationships see Dio 55.34 Suzanne Dixon has argued against Keith Bradley that Roman expectations for marriage did not stop at the hope for a mutually satisfactory partnership.1).7. Romans had accepted the importance of a woman's responding love toward the man to whom she was married.1. custom of men bringing their wives to their foreign appointments because they are "consortia rerum secundarum aduersarumque" (Annak 3. Pliny the Younger.. Siluae 3. Roman cultural roles for the matrona made her less subordinate to her husband than was the custom among non-Roman couples.34). To say this another way. and a partnership in all of life. Marriage. Canberra. "Roman Marriage"." (Agricola 6. writing in the mid-first century BCE. Agricola's marriage is described as.8 and Ovid. Moralia 143E. Fasti 1. Divorce. In her article. Beryl Rawson (Oxford: Clarendon.2. To Sum: These considerations indicate that the Romanized woman of the Imperial period had a recognized role as an authority in the home. Civilization of the Ancient Mediterranean.16. to agree or disagree. " By the third century CE. Jugurthine War 89. the lawyer Modestinus would compose the definition of marriage: Marriage is the joining together of a male and a woman. The evidence suggests that a happy Roman marriage afforded a woman the right for her opinions and cares to be aired to her husband.10. 34 Digest 23. 1991).639-646. 35 Suzanne Dixon. See Plutarch. The virtue itself presumes that each partner has the power to speak his or her mind. Translation by Susan Treggiari.. 3. and Children in Ancient Rome. Letters 3. 1343. Statius. a sharing in divine and human law.WOMEN'S AUTHORITY ROLES IN PAUL'S CHURCHES 361 harmony which ensures a peaceful life together. "The Sentimental Ideal of the Roman Family".35 This fact encourages the idea that despite the admitted sexism ofthat time.5.'' she demonstrates through literary evidence that by the first century BCE married couples entered marriage hoping for deep mutual love. all are held equally cheap. Gaius Sallust. disdainfully dismisses the polygamous practices of foreigners with his remark: None of them [their] wives has the position of a partner. "Conjugal Precepts". "uixeruntque mira concordia. . "The Sentimental Ideal of the Roman Family. 33 Sallust.

and that Roman culture presented the image of partners for the couple of emulate. he sent his agent Rubrius to dine with the man. 1928).66. The girl must leave the hall to ask her mother for the reward she should exact from the king (v. ] . it must be that the issue was somehow reflective of a movement in Roman reality. . 3. For neither is a wife invited to a dinner party. save for a close relation. Roman women could go to the theatre.1. Philodamus. Salome is presumed to be at a banquet for men alone. Lives of Famous Men. 25) [xal έξβλθοββα tfaev τ$ μητρί αυτής . 1. 37 Cicero.362 WENDY COTTER that she and her husband entertained both men and women together there. London: Heinemann. a rich man of the city. As soon as Rubrius thought the ice was sufficiently broken [at the dinner].37 Not only did Roman women go out with their husband to dine. 24). Hoping to seduce the daughter of Philodamus. . Verrine Orations (2 vols. "Women in Rome". go to visit friends or chat 36 Cornelius Nepos. However extreme his indictment. 2.25. which is called the women's quarters. where a man is not welcome. nor does she pass her life except in the inner part of the house. he said. except of relatives. Translation by Sheila K. Cicero is required to explain to his Roman audience that Greek women do not attend dinner parties with men. Cornelius Nepos writes. II. Civilization of the Ancient Mediterranean. why not send for your daughter to come in and see us?" The respectable and already elderly father received the rascal's suggestion with astonished silence.3* Similarly. For what Roman is ashamed to take his wife to a dinner party? Or whose wife is not prominent at home or not involved in society? In Greece things are far different. preface 6-7. in order to say something. 1319.. he replied. Roman Women in Society In his preface to Lives of Famous Men. "Tell me. Cicero relates the contemptible behaviour of Gaius Verres when he visited Lampsacus in Asia NÍinor. Juvenal's sixth satire is a caustic treatment of women pseudo-intellectuals and self-acclaimed athletic *'champions". Dickison. (v. 25) xal tfotXfoGoa . that it was not the Greek custom for women to be present at a men's dinner-party [negaoit morís esse Graecorum ut in convivio virorum accumberent mulleres). Thus the scandalous nature of the plan for Salome's dance is clear. . but the literary evidence shows that they could leave the house and go for a walk during the day. Notice that in Mark's account of John the Baptist's beheading (Mk 6:22-29). As Rubrius persisted. We do not need to know the type of dance. but only that the princess danced before an all-male company.. and then enter the room again to give her answer to the waiting Herod (v.

. with rights of succession in that family and not in the family of her husband . under the trees of the Campus Martius. Suetonius.67. Institutes 1.. indirectly. And behind the chair of the young matron often hovered the dangerous exquisite. "Roman Marriage". or round the seats of the public squares. Civilization of the Ancient Mediterranean. women who had money often achieved a strong social profile. Although her maoney was legally under the potestas of her father or guardian. or during his life if freed by him. and on his death she had right of succession equal to those of a child. at least her inheritance was hers and in her own name. 1947). the emperor had legislated that a free born woman with three children or a freedwoman with four children could control her own finances. Rüssel M. she could hold no property. 40 See Gaius. While her husband or his paterfamilias lived. In an effort to persuade women to bear more children. who could hum the latest suggestive song from Alexandria or Gades. Roman Society: From Nero to Marcus Aurelius (London: Macmillan.. 3.40 It is easy to see how women who achieved this freedom were in a position to exert a notable force in their social circle and. 1. who knew the pedigree of every racehorse and the secret of every intrigues. Partially this was due to the common practise of marriage sine manu and/or because women could appeal to Augustus' law of three and four children. 1905). Rome (New York: Prentice-Hall inc. 369-370. Ars Amatoria. promising to all women ship owners that if they would give over their boats for grain shipment from Egypt to Rome.39 Augustus' law brought women a new possibility for financial independence. A marriage sine manu allowed a woman to remain a legal member of her own family at birth rather than sever those legal ties to become grafted into the family of her husband.. After the death of her paterfamilias. not even the emperor's.1343-1354. but in entering her husband's family she had left that of her birth and had no rights of succession there . in the colonnades of the theatre.58 In the Imperial period. i. Samuel Dill's research leads him to the following scenario of typical Roman social interaction in the first century: It was a time when people loved to meet anywhere. Everywhere were to be seen those groups which spared no reputation. The emperor Claudius used this law to his advantage. 38 Samuel Dill.145. 19. they could claim the privilege awarded to mothers of three and four children. In marriage without manus a wife remained in the family of her own paterfamilias. usually her nearest relative by blood". * Claudius". have charge of their financial affairs without a guardian. she could own property in her own right subject only to the supervision of a guardian. she would retain her own inheritance and the powser to possess land. Susan Treggiari.W O M E N ' S AUTHORITY ROLES IN PAUL'S CHURCHES 363 with friends in the parks. 85. Thus. The Twelve Caesars. Geer... Ovid. 39 "In the case of marriage with manus the position of the wife was like that of a daughter.e.

363-366. In the majority of instances. Luke presumes the Romanized influence present in Lydia's independent business and running of the household. Cadbury. "Π Patronato Nei Collegia Dell'Impero Romano". The writer of Acts is so very cautious about propriety.364 WENDY COTTER in politics as well. for the social honour it would bring to them. entitling her patrona (9) or mater (3). 42 See Guido Clemente. 1967). In 41 For a discussion and list of passages in which Luke alters his sources for such reasons. 90-96. See also the treatment of προστάτης in Franz Poland.41 Clearly. Only one inscription further identifies a women {mater) as the wife of a certain named man. a native of Thyatira but now living in Philippi. they are not necessarily the patrons of the club. the woman is named without mention of her connection with any man. Geschichte des Griechischen Vereinswesens (Leipzig: Zentralantiquariat der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik. of the 24 inscriptions from professional collegia. see Henry J.42 Whether or not women patrons of professional collegia were also considered members is not clear. 1969). The Style and Literary Method of Luke (New York: Kraus. Lydia. father or guardian before she offers her house to Paul and his companions. Sometimes. 12 name a woman as a patron. Of the 147 inscriptions from professional collegia in Italy that Clemente documents. Lydia is acting as Paul's benefactor in what is apparently a very decent edifying manner. she and her whole household are baptized. it would be quite unlike him to allow any element of immodesty in the story of Lydia's invitation to Paul. Roman and Romanized women with independent use of their money often did take the role of benefactor for clubs of various kinds. She takes authority and Luke plainly sees this as a laudable act. For example. For him. Although women are sometimes entitled mater. Note that in Acts 16:13-15. Moved by Paul's preaching. owns a purple dye trade business. Lydia prevails on Paul and his companions to stay at her home. Studi classici e orientali 21 (1972) 142-229. . He does not expect her to confer with a husband. the woman is further identified as the wife (4) or daughter (1) of a certain named man. it was not at all unusual for such women to run their own business independently and exercise authority over the entirety of their own estate. 4 are dedicated to women. esp. Inscriptions of the clubs and associations of the Greco-Roman world offer praises and thanks to the women who built their meeting houses and financed their dinners. In Rome itself. These public displays of thanks meant that certain women were bound to gain influence through the power of a glowing public reputation in the towns of cities where they exer­ cised their generosity. as a patrona (1) and as a mater (3).

44 Romanized women were in a position to gain status and honour for themselves and their families. Kloppenborg observes that in the list of members of the collegium of Aesculapius and Hygieia. They cared a lot more about prestige.43 But the holding of such offices. What is interesting about craft associations for our purposes is the focusing of their energies on the pursuit of honour rather than of economic advantage . were eager to recognize their patrons. by their benefactions to clubs and societies. 44 Ramsay Macmullen. 76-77. almeno in alcuni suoi elementi costitutivi. anche se fu profonda per quanto riguarda la sua funzione sociale". To Sum: Sarah Pomeroy's summary of the Romanized woman's freedoms fittingly brings this section to a close: 45 CIL 6. rather than honorific titles for patrons. May 1989). C. even if not that of patron. they could deal out according to a more modest scale of attainments. These inscriptions are proof that the culture did not demand that a woman be identified by her father. but which. in part.10234. within a subdivision of their ciity.D. 1974). Guido Clemente. which members as a whole could not ordinarily hope to gain. men and women. an unpublished paper. the pater and mater titles appear with other notable personages.W O M E N ' S AUTHORITY ROLES IN PAUL'S C H U R C H E S 365 an unpublished paper on the phenomena of collegia in the hellenistic and Greco-Roman era. The inscriptions honouring such women show that members of a club. Roman Social Relations 50 B. 284 (New Haven and London: Yale University. CSBS Seminar on Voluntary Associations (CSBS: Laval University. "Collegia".. She had her own identity. was still of immense importance to both men and women members.. Kloppenborg. e con essi i patroni. John S. as Ramsay Macmullen explains. come il patronato. John S. pare essere stata meno traumatica di quanto facciano intendere le fonti giuridiche. "Il Patronato". 17. This would suggest that the titles pater and mater were offices. Quebec.10-12. Associations thus resembled the whole social context they found themselves in and imitated it as best they could. The inscriptional evidence demonstrates incontestably that they did so.toA. husband or guardian. . 228. e con minore forza di penetrazione nel tessuto cittadino: e tuttavia 1 trasformazione dell'istituto. competing with their peers. But they are listed after the quinquennalis and immediately before the immunes and cur atores. demente observes the importance that benefaction played in winning social status in the city: "Essi sopravvivono. ma con forza di coesione certo minore.

Tacitus describes Agrippina's share in the authority of Nero her son as "an almost masculine depotism".46 It is interesting to note the report of Valerius Maximum about the three separate responses to each of three women who came to court to plead their own cause.43 III. Pomeroy. 189. so did women.10. the daughter of a 45 Sarah B.3. and the modesty of their sex were not able to prevent from speaking in the Forum or in the courts. She was nicknamed "Androgyne" because "she bore a man's courage under a woman's appearance". Wealthy. Roman Worries in Politics Although Roman women did have a notable degree of freedom in society.47 One of the women was able to win her case immediately. Civilization of the Ancient Mediterranean. Here. We ought not to pass over in silence those women whom the circumstances of their nature. Whores. and to have their political leanings represented. powerful women had to use indirect means to have their views made public. whereas the Athenian women were isolated and excluded from activities outside the home. 1322. The third woman received a more sympathetic hearing. As men prospered. Dickison. Annals 12. 46 Tacitus.366 WENDY COTTER Roman women were involved with their culture and were able to influence their society. Translation by K. 1975). Civilization of the Ancient Mediterranean. Wives. they were not supposed to bring attention to themselves by public speeches or any overt political demonstrations.. The second woman received a reprimand from the court for her habit of bringing legal cases before the courts to argue them herself. games. shows. See Sheila K. When on occasion women did try to enter the public arena. "Women in Rome". . 47 Valerius Maximus. Dickison. This was accomplished by the Roman woman who had independent control of her estate or who had a network of powerful men friends. He prefaces the account with this remark. 1321. "Women in Rom". they were judged to have offended the modesty expected of them and to have overstepped the limitations of their sex. She was Hortensia. Roman women dined with their husbands and attended respectable parties. Roman women had access to money and power. and Slaves (New York: Schocken Books. 3.7. and even political gatherings . Roman and Greek culture agreed in the exclusion of women from the public and/or political arena. such as the courts. Goddesses. and their fortunes were linked to those of the state. Memorable Deeds and Sayings 8..

and she had tried to find a hearing for her grievance before the wives of the Triumvirs without success. In this aspect. there are statements of gratitude for their courage in making them. and the honourable background of the woman seem to have created a respectable aura around her otherwise unseemly (i. In legislative and juridical assemblies women were excluded from any leadership role and any role that would bring attention to themselves. Roman conventions were no different than what one could find anywhere else around the Mediterranean. The slighdy desperate circumstances. 1976). quoting the decree of Octavian about the authorized return of her husband. the husband has only words of profound gratitude and love for the outstanding courage shown by his wife. The So-Called Laudatio Turiae (Lund: Berlingska Boktryckeriet. The widow is unswervingly determined to force public justice from the magistrate. She fought greedy relatives who sought to break her father's will so that her inheritance would be invalidated. 48 The reprimand to the woman who always pleads her own case is good evidence to show the outrageous character of the image in the parable of the Widow and the Judge (Lk 18:2-5). When her husband was exiled during the Roman civil wars and Octavian had him recalled. unfeminine) behaviour. Erik Wistrand. the woman went to the public forum and prostrated herself publicly before Marcus Lepidus. not only were women denied public offices.and it might be that the scene represents her behaviour in the court rather than in private visits. . she continued to quote Octavian's ruling until Lepidus realized that he must respect the recall orders. The speech has great importance for our understanding of Roman marriage and the independence possible for women.e. Roman culture did not allow women to call attention to themselves. Having been humiliated by being dragged away across the floor. To Sum: In the matter of public presence.48 Despite the negative labelling of women's public speeches. 19-33. The woman used all her resources to track down the murderers of her parents and bring them to justice. The Laudatio Turiae is the eulogy of a bereaved husband for his recently deceased wife. they were expected to refrain from any formal 'public' behaviour.49 The inscription confirms the fact that. In this case.WOMEN'S AUTHORITY ROLES IN PAUL'S CHURCHES 367 Roman orator Quintus Hortensius. 49 ILS 8393.

Paul's reference to Chloe falls into place much easier if we recognize her as at least a patroness of some kind who is well known and esteemed by the Corinthian community. we must hasten to add that there are still many questions around the destination of the letter to Philemon. this evidence is not wanting and it is plain that this couple has been very prominent in the decisions being made for the Gentile Christians. We cannot assume that this factor alone guarantees her directorship of the community. Prisca's role fits very well into the Roman parameters for a woman's role within home and society. This would explain how Paul would allow the credibility of the report to rest on the mention of those under her authority. As we have argued earlier. Philemon and Archippus as though they form a team. Through a Greek lens. Apphia's leadership would appear rather bold. Paul would not continue to identify his converts by their attachment to a nonChristian woman unknown to the community and/or him. Seen against the background of Roman culture. Chloe's prominence is conventional rather than countercultural. Paul groups her with two men. Chloe is not necessarily a head of a church. we must rely on the content of Paul's compliments to her as indications of her relative importance in the community. In the light of the Roman culture which was pervasive in Corinth and with the evidence of women's patronage so plentiful. Prisca's clear partnership with Aquila reflects Roman ideals of the good mar­ riage. How­ ever. Here. If Colossae is her home and if it remained non-Romanized we would have to conclude that her very presence as a recognized leader is indeed countercultural. Since an εκκλησία meets in their house.368 WENDY GOTTER C. Prisca as matrona has her own leadership role to play by virtue of the fact that she is the domina of the home. As we have already noted. but Paul's reference to his informants as "Chloe's people" indicates the baptized members of her household. The labours of Euodia and Syntyche suggest that they took .I The Authoritative Roles of the Women Leaders in Paul's Churches Countercultural or Conventional? Apphia's service as a leader in the church cannot be adjusticated since Paul does not offer us enough evidence of her activities. It is no wonder that scholars who are more familiar with general hellenistic culture have presumed that she must be married to one or the other. In all of this.

Phoebe's role as a benefactress and guardian is evidence of the financial independence possible for many women in the Imperial period. he never refers to these groups as an οίκος. So. the fact that a Christian community encouraged the formation of such teams is not at all boldly innovative. She also may have been able to act as a guardian due to influential people among her family members and friends. an unpublished paper. Clement 'and the rest' suggests that these two women were part of a group composed of both men and women. Perhaps this included visiting friends and setting up networks for 'evangelization*. although Phoebe is holding an office. McCready. Her authority in the community is problematic only if it is being exercised in the public arena. a general assembly of people that included women and children and a whole con­ gregation in assembly that had some significant religious meaning. Note that Paul's mention of these women in the same breath with himself. But Paul's communities appear to meet in homes where Roman sen­ sibilities are already prepared for women's more dominant role.50 The most plentiful examples of the term belong to the golden days of Athens when all citizens met for the purpose of making decisions for their city. Since Roman sensibilities allowed clubs with membership of both sexes. Voluntary Associa­ tions Seminar (CSBS Meeting: Laval University. she is not doing so in a way offensive to the Roman culture which pervades Cenchreae. acknowledging the uncertainty in Apphia's case. C. Therefore. From his study of the term in the LXX McCready concludes. Phoebe holds the office of deacon at Cenchreae. Ecclesia [translating qahal] can refer to an assembly summoned to bear arms. 51 Ibid. Such exercise of power is completely conventional. The research of Wayne McCready shows that the term refers to a formal assembly of citizens. 1-17. 1989).51 50 Wayne O. we can say with respect to the other five women that there would seem to be nothing countercultural in their roles given the context of the Roman or Romanized cities where their communities reside.. 5. each one is an εκκλησία. "Ecclesia''. Rather.WOMEN'S AUTHORITY ROLES IN PAUL'S CHURCHES 369 advantage of the greater social mobility permitted to women in a Roman culture like that found in Philippi. .2 Women's Leadership in the Context of an Έχχλησία Although Paul's communities seem to gather in households.

άρχιιρβύς. however pious the context. *«τήρ· μή^ηρ. The term clearly passes by the domestic or the simply social contexts of a gathering and instead. πρέαβυς. "for slaves the household takes the place of city and com­ monwealth". As we have seen. διάκονος. it was common for the voluntary associations of the Mediterranean to organize themselves on the model of a city. women in leadership roles within the εκκλησία were indeed par­ ticipating in a countercultural activity. 14.110. Com offices in the Greek clubs include: Ιιριός. 55 McCready. the fact that the assembly considered itself a political. See John S. άρχισυνάγωγος. As Pliny remarks. civic entity means that the roles of these women leaders were also political and civic. 19. mater collegii. communicates a civic seriousness to the assembly. Admittedly. pater collegii. Rather he explains to each community the special regard they shall enjoy as a holy assembly set apart to live with God. γραμμ*τιύς. Kloppenborg for this reference. "Collegia". Examples of common offices in the Latin collegia: magistri.370 WENDY COTTER A first century use of the term occurs in a letter from Pliny to Trajan in which he refers to the civic assembly of the free Greek 52 city. Epistles 8.53 Larger households often created a miniature city within its walls to provide a 'citizenship* of some kind. 5. scriba. sacerdos. then. "Collegia". 54 Pliny. Seen from his point of view. Despite the fact that this εκκλησία met in a household. quinquennales. Amisus. This means that Christian organizations were in that way a 'civic* or 'political' enti­ ty. neither Greek nor Roman culture allowed women a 'civic' office. gathered as God's holy people. 52 Pliny. υπηρέτης.54 However. and it was not at all unusual to create offices similar to those at city hall. it was rare for a society to call itself an εκκλησία. "Ecclesia". έπιμιλητής. Paul's Eschatology The Future of God's Εκκλησία Paul makes it clear to his communities that they are in no way a temporary grouping that will come apart at the coming of Christ.16. άρχιμύστης. quaestor. 59 . immunis. where Roman culture allowed women to exercise a greater authority. άρχι&αώτης. curator. προστάτης.55 Although more study is required before we may be specific about the connotations of the word for the Christians of the first generation communities. the evidence suggests that εκκλησία was understood as an assembly of the citizens of a 'free' city. I am indebted to John S. Epistles 10. Kloppenborg. honoratus.

4:6. He remonstrates (1 Cor 6:2-3). but in actuality. For he will repay according to each one's deeds: to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honour and immortality he will give eternal life. Nevertheless. where Paul rebukes the community for seeking litigation in the civic courts. while he assures the Roman church that their desires for public honour and glory will be satisfied on the last day (Rom 2:6-7). 9:26. 31). and undoubtedly countercultural. 2 Cor 6:18. 19. we suggest.WOMEN'S AUTHORITY ROLES IN PAUL'S CHURCHES 371 We find evidence of this teaching in 1 Corinthians. The com­ munity was meant to participate together in an eternal life. since a more obvious political or civic setting might well have given cause for offense. Paul did not hesitate to affirm the . the authority roles of women in the Romanized cities were somewhat veiled as the culturally acceptable activities of most women in that city. Such expectations for the community mean that the offices of the εκκλησία were not just civic in name. Paul promises them that they can expect to enjoy their prominence as citizens of heaven (Phil 3:18-20). they will come into their royal heritage. Like the adopted children of the Emperor. Gal 3:26. The members of the εκκλησία will enjoy their full status as adopted children of God (Rom 8:22-23). 7. 29. Such teachings only affirm the serious character of the civic and public nature of the Christian εκκλησία. Conclusion Given the domestic surroundings of the εκκλησία. The idea of women carrying on their positions of authority as officers in the city of God would have been an idea that was certainly a fresh one for women. The fact that the community was meeting in a home fits in well with Paul's ideals of the members as brothers and sisters in the household of God (Rom 8:14. Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you. The positive side of this reality is that Paul was free to call upon the leadership skills of women as well as men in these Romanized cities. are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? In cases of the Philippians. These factors would have made the leadership of women in the εκκλησία less problematic for the men.

as we have seen is the case with Roman and Greek expectations of women. First. but cannot be understood to indicate a cultural homogeneity. . as we have seen. The term "GrecoRoman" is now used to describe the general cultural character of the first century Mediterranean world. Paul gives the impression that the community as a whole will become the citizens of heaven and exercise authority there as well. the roles of women and men in Christian communities will receive a more accurate interpretation. The significance of using such a term for a group in the first century can only be estimated by clarifying its ordinary connotation for the nonelites of the Mediterranean world. And this manifestation will be seen not only by Christ and the rest of the Christians but indeed before the whole world who stands awaiting judgement. Again. Moreover.372 WENDY COTTER women who appear in these letters as leaders in their εκκλησία. the fact that the women leaders in Paul's letters belong to Roman or Romanized cities shows the need to more finely nuance the study of Christian letters so that they are seen against the predominant cultures of the cities to which they are sent. there is no exception in the case of the women. Against this backdrop. Second. the term εκκλησία must be freed from overly Chris­ tianized concepts more reminiscent of the third century. with respect especially to first generation Christian com­ munities. The women in Paul's letters who show themselves to be leaders in these communities appeared to fit into cultural norms acceptable in Roman culture. Cities only miles apart might display strong differences in social interaction. or political involvement was countercultural for women. But the reality of their involvement due to the character of the assembly as God's εκκλησία endowed their leader­ ship with a countercultural equality with the men members of the community. It is assumed that their authority will be ratified and recognized in the last day. And so this civic. A Final Word Two tasks present themselves for further investigations.

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