Lynn Cohick & Amy Brown Hughes – Christian Women in the Patristic World

Episode: Gender is a hot-button topic. The validity and limits of “gender roles” still remains a controversial issue in the church. Meanwhile early Christian theology is all about the church Fathers–at least this is the mindset in some circles. While it may be acknowledged that women were vital to the development of early Christianity, for those nurtured in such circles, any notion of women making lasting theological contributions is simply silly or wishful thinking. The period from 100-600 AD is called the Patristic era in common parlance for a reason. However, Lynn Cohick and Amy Brown Hughes bring compelling contrary evidence and a balanced perspective, drawing from their recent book, Christian Women in the Patristic World. Join the discussion as they are welcomed by OnScript co-host Matthew Bates for a conversation about women, gender, and early Christianity.

Guests: Lynn Cohick (Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania) is Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College. Prior to coming to Wheaton in 2000, Lynn taught for three years in Nairobi, Kenya. She researches the ways Jews and Christians lived out their faith in the ancient settings of Hellenism and the Roman Empire, and how Jews and Christians today can better appreciate and understand each other. Lynn also explores women’s lives in the ancient world. In addition to the present book, she has published Philippians (Zondervan, 2013); Ephesians (Cascade, 2010); and a book that might particularly interest our listeners, Women in the World of the Earliest Christians (Baker Academic, 2009).

Amy Brown Hughes (Ph.D., Wheaton College) is Assistant Professor of Theology at Gordon College. She has co-authored the book under discussion today, Christian Women in the Patristic World, as well as editing and contributing to various essay volumes. Amy received an M.A. in history of Christianity from Wheaton College and her B.A. in theology and historical studies from Oral Roberts University. She enjoys highlighting the contributions of minority voices to theology, especially those of women.

Book: Lynn H. Cohick and Amy Brown Hughes, Christian Women in the Patristic World: Their Influence, Authority, and Lecacy in the Second through Fifth Centuries (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017). Publisher’s description: From facing wild beasts in the arena to governing the Roman Empire, Christian women–as preachers and philosophers, martyrs and empresses, virgins and mothers–influenced the shape of the church in its formative centuries. This book provides in a single volume a nearly complete compendium of extant evidence about Christian women in the second through fifth centuries. It highlights the social and theological contributions they made to shaping early Christian beliefs and practices, integrating their influence into the history of the patristic church and showing how their achievements can be edifying for contemporary Christians.

The OnScript Quip (our review): Nothing beautiful is ever a waste. But lovely things can be lost or corroded by time. The delightful story of the theological contribution of women to early Christianity had been tarnished by ugly neglect. Cohick and Hughes are masterful in their restorative craft. They strip way the layers of grime to showcase the story’s original splendor and vivid hues. Scholars and students will be compelled to gaze intently at this work of art. — Matthew W. Bates, Quincy University, OnScript

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