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The Morning of the
Sir Edward Burne-Jones
Women and Gender
In Early Christianity
This page is under construction
Focus for Fall
2009: Eve, Mary, and Mary Magdalene
in Early Christian Traditions
is the entry page for Relg. 221a, Women and Gender in Early Christianity.
The full syllabus for the course is under construction, and a partial version
is now available on the Blackboard site and within the Tri-College network
Images of Eve, Mary, and
Mary Magdalene in the History of Art
Syllabus and Course Information
Description: An examination
of the representation of women and gender in the New Testament and other
early Christian texts, with attention to their historical and contemporary
significance. In this course we'll employ a variety of methods (feminist,
literary, historical, socio-cultural, theological) to explore the
variety of early Christian views of women and gender. A special
focus for Fall 2007 will be the varying representations of 3 female
figures who have played important and varied symbolic roles in the
history of the Christian tradition: Eve, the 'mother of the living'
(Genesis 2-3); Mary, the mother of Jesus; and Mary Magdalene, female
disciple and witness.
reading of all assigned texts, weekly Blackboard postings, and
participation in class discussion (30%).
is not a lecture course. All students are expected to come to
class prepared to participate in discussion.
the class will post on Blackboard a 2-3 paragraph analysis of
some aspect of the reading for class by 9 p.m. the Monday night
before every Tuesday class; the other half will post by 9 p.m.
the Wednesday night before Thursday's class, starting the
second week of the semester. All students are expected
to read the postings for both Tuesday and Thursday before class.
postings should offer close analysis of a particular passage
or theme in the primary
source readings assigned for class, or they should raise
critical questions about secondary sources (the writings of contemporary
scholars). You may find some topics to consider on the syllabus,
or you may explore topics of your own. Students who have written
for class may be asked to share an observation or a question
about the material for class discussion.
Essays of 5-6 pages each (40%).
- A final
research paper of 12-15 pages (30%). Proposals due
in class (date tba). Annotated bibliography and outline due in
early December; 5-page draft due last week of class.
- Ross Kraemer and Mary Rose D'Angelo, Women
and Christian Origins
- Joseph Lynch, Early
Christianity: A Brief History
- Patricia Cox Miller, Women in Early
- Bonnie Thurston, Women
in the New Testament
- Karen L. King, The Gospel of Mary of
- Bible. New Revised Standard Version.
- Additional Readings will be available
at the web site, on reserve, or in class.
SYLLABUS OF READINGS
I. Women and Gender in the New
Testament: The Gospels and Letters of Paul
Cultural and Social Contexts of Early Christianity
T, 9/1 Introduction
to the Course: Women and Gender in Early Christianity and in Contemporary
Th, 9/3: From Jesus Movement to Constantine: the Cultural and Social Contexts
of Early Christianity
Week of 9/1-3
Introduction, Women in Christian Origins (WCO), 3-10
- First reading
of The Gospel of Mark 1-8
- Fiorenza, IMOH,
105-130 [pdf to be posted]
for Class Discussion
the issues and debates in early Christian studies discussed by Kraemer/D'Angelo.
Which of these seem most relevant to the issues you want to see discussed
in the course?
- Examine closely the references to women
in the Gospel of Mark. How are these women characterized? What roles
do they play? How does their representation and/or characterization
in GMark relate to the gospel's characterization of the male disciples
of Jesus (the 12 and others)
Interpreting Stories about Women in the Gospel of Mark; Gender, Characterization,
and Narrative Themes as Categories of Analysis
the week of 9/8-10: The Gospel of Mark
- T, 9/8 Reimagining
the Jesus Movement and Stories about Women in the Gospel of Mark 1-8
- Gospel of Mark,
focus on chapters 1-8
- Thurston, Introduction,
Women in the New Testament (WNT)
- Ross Kraemer, "Jewish Women and Christian Origins: Some Caveats," WCO,
- E. S. Fiorenza, Selection from In Memory of Her (to be posted
here and/or at Blackboard)
for Discussion and Postings on Blackboard for Tuesday's class:
Fiorenza's reconstruction of the Jesus movement, especially with
respect to her understanding of Jesus' proclamation of the Kingdom
(basiliea). What would it mean for a woman or a man to follow Jesus
as a disciple and his proclamation, according to Fiorenza? How similar
is Mark's presentation of Kingdom and discipleship to Fiorenza's?
How are they different?
for example, stories about such apparent 'insiders' as Jesus' family
(Mark 3:31-35) and the disciples (Mark 4 and throughout) in relation
to stories about apparent outsiders, such as the women with the flow
of blood (Mark 5:25-43) and the Syrophoenician woman(Mark 7:24-30).
one or more of the stories about women in GMark 1-8 in relation to
the category of gender. In what ways do these stories reflect, reinforce,
challenge, or subvert traditional constructions of male and female
- Th, 9/10:
Stories about Women in the Gospel of Mark 1-16
- Reread the entire
Gospel of Mark; note the difference between the 'original'
ending of Mark at 16:8 and the longer ending (16:9-20)
- Mary Rose D'Angelo, "(Re)Presentations
of Women in the Gospels: John and Mark," WCO, 129-149 (Focus on
her discussion of GMark)
- Thurston, WNT,
for Discussion and Postings on Blackboard for Tuesday's class:
- Reread the
entire Gospel of Mark closely with careful attention to the gospel's
depiction of the disciples of Jesus and of the women who interact with
him. Compare the disciples' failure to 'hear' and 'understand' Jesus
(Mk 4:10-13, 4:40-41; 6:17-29; 6:47-52; 8:14-21, 8:31-33; 9:30-35; 10:32-37,
etc.) with the responses of various women depicted in the text - from
the women with the flow of blood and the .Syrophoenician woman to the
woman who anoints Jesus at Bethany (14:3-9), and the women at the cross
and the empty tomb (15:40-16:8).
the stories about women, the disciples, the family of Jesus, and other
social groups in GMk in relation to the larger themes emerging in the
gospel - e.g., the "good news [gospel] of the Kingdom of God," the
identity of Jesus, and various tensions, e.g., between secrecy/hiddenness
and openness/revelation; between faith/understanding
and unfaith/misunderstanding; and between insiders and outsiders? How
are we to read the stories about women in GMk 1-6 in relation to these
themes and tensions in the text?
- Choose one
story and develop your own interpretation or retelling of the story to
share with the class.
For the full syllabus of readings and topics, go to the full syllabus
Stories about Women in the Gospel of Luke-Acts: Luke's Depiction of Mary the
mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Women in the Early Church
Women and Gender in the Communities and Letters of Paul
and Gender in the Pauline and Post-Pauline Communities
and Gender in the Gospel of John; Logos and Sophia; Images of the Divine in the
Gospels and Letters of Paul
Women and Gender in the Gospel of Thomas; The Mary's of the Gospels of John
of the Divine: Wisdom, Sophia, Thunder in Gnostic Texts
of the Living" or "Devil's Gateway": Images
of Eve in Nag Hammadi Texts of the Second & Third
Magdalene in the Memory and Imagination of the Early Church
Ideals of the Virgin and the Martyr: Thecla and Perpetua
of the Living" or "Devil's Gateway": Genesis 1-3 as
a Site of Contention in 2nd-3rd Century Christianity; Images of Eve, Virginity,
and the Female Martyr
Legacy of Women and Gender in Early Christianity: Images of Eve,
Mary, Mary Magdalene, and other early Christian women in Contemporary Culture
and Discussion of Research Topics
Last Week: No
- Each student should be prepared to speak for ca. 5 minutes on his/her
final project for the course
- Due in class: 5-page draft, annotated
bibliography, and outline of final paper
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