Women in the Apostolic Fathers: Introductions (Part II)

This post is part of an ongoing series examining Women in the Apostolic Fathers.

Ignatius of Antioch

Ignatius of Antioch

While many Apostolic Fathers remain shrouded by history, Ignatius of Antioch has long been viewed as a vibrant and important character of the early Church. Written on the road to his martyrdom in Rome, Ignatius’s seven authentic Epistles were written to churches in Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles, Rome, Philadelphia, Smyrna, and to Smyrnaean bishop Polycarp.[1] The precise dating of Ignatius’s writing remains a mystery, although many scholars suggest his composition and death to have occurred between 108 and 117 CE.[2] The specific purposes of these letters vary somewhat due to the fact that they are written to different churches. Spanning each of his letters, however, are Ignatius’s calls Christians to eschew Gnostic logic and Jewish exegesis, and to combat heresy and disorder through church order and obedience to the bishop.[3] Continue reading

Montantism and the Authority of (Female) Confessor-Martyrs

This post is part of an ongoing series reflecting upon Women and Gender in Early Christianity.

Holy SpiritIn “The Role of Martyrdom and Persecution in Developing the Priestly Authority of Women in Early Christianity: A Case Study in Montanism,”[1] Frederick Klawiter contends that from its beginnings Montanism enabled women to rise to ministerial status through their roles as confessor-martyrs. After offering a broad overview of the New Prophecy and its divisive influence in second century Asia Minor, Klawiter considers why the movement came to be viewed as heretical, suggesting that New Prophecy placed too great an emphasis on martyrdom. This Klawiter connects with the rise of martyr-minsters in Rome (ca. 190 CE), whose integrity before God elevated them to the rank of presbyter. It was this elevated status that Montanists extended to confessors even after their release, as with Alexander and Themiso, who called themselves martyrs even after their release from captivity. Continue reading