Saturday, December 2, 2017

Ordination of Women

These posts are from a post-doctoral research project that contributes to the ongoing conversation about the ordination of women for Christian service. The scope is limited to practices and rituals related to the ministry of hospitality and healing between the birth of Christ and 400 CE.  It identifies the call of women to serve in the early Church in the first centuries, the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit and the characteristic qualities of the women involved.  The work is organized two parts that appear in reverse order in this blog.

The first part discusses the custom of hospitality in the Middle East and the story of Abraham welcoming the three strangers.  That custom has been passed down through Hebrew, Christian and Islamic beliefs to create an association of hospitality with holiness.  Mary of Nazareth, Mary of Magdala, the group of women known as the myrrh-bearers, and other women of high standing accepted the teaching of Jesus and provided hospitality for the early Church out of their own resources.

The second part profiles women who provided for the first gatherings of Christian converts in their homes. Phoebe, Lydia and Dorcas were three wealthy Greek women who provided financial support for the churches in Corinth, Philippi and Joppa respectively.  

Priscilla and Aquila were a Jewish couple who played a key role in the development of the church in Rome.  Olympias, a Christian noblewoman of Greek descent dedicated her life to the church in Antioch.  Macrina had a profound influence on the development of the church in Caesarea.  Melania owned grand estates in Iberia, Africa, Numidia, Mauretania and Italy and contributed to the establishment of the early Christian church in Africa.