Her Share of the Blessings: Women's Religions among Pagans, Jews, and Christians in the Greco-Roman World (Oxford Paperbacks)
Ross Shepard Kraemer
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In this pathbreaking volume, Ross Shepard Kraemer provides the first comprehensive look at women's religions in Greco-Roman antiquity. She vividly recreates the religious lives of early Christian, Jewish, and pagan women, with many fascinating examples: Greek women's devotion to goddesses, rites of Roman matrons, Jewish women in rabbinic and diaspora communities, Christian women's struggles to exercise authority and autonomy, and women's roles as leaders in the full spectrum of Greco-Roman religions. In every case, Kraemer reveals the connections between the social constraints under which women lived, and their religious beliefs and practices.
The relationship among female autonomy, sexuality, and religion emerges as a persistent theme. Analyzing the monastic Jewish Therapeutae and various Christian communities, Kraemer demonstrates the paradoxical liberation which women achieved by rejection of sexuality, the body, and the female. In the epilogue, Kraemer pursues the disturbing implications such findings have for contemporary women.
Based on an astonishing variety of primary sources, Her Share of the Blessings is an insightful work that goes beyond the limitations of previous scholarship to provide a more accurate portrait of women in the Greco-Roman world.
than women married without manuSy but the former were at least part of the same family while the latter found themselves in the position of legally being members of a different family than their own children. In the case of divorce, this may have had some ramifications, although in general, with manus or without, children stayed with their fathers in the event of divorce. Scholars like Hallett have illuminated the significance of the likelihood that elite Roman women remained permanently linked
aristocratic Roman married women. They wore the long robes (stolae) and headbands (vittoe) signifying respectable married women, although some scholars have suggested that the garments of the Vestals were actually those of a bride.15 The rituals associated with becoming a Vestal bear significant resemblance to Roman marriage rites, particularly in the taking of the Vestal from her family. The authority over the Vestals held by the Pontifex Maximus resembles the power that husbands held over wives
Tation was Jewish. But I am puzzled by the phrase in her inscription stating that Tation built an assembly hall and enclosed an open courtyard and gave them as a gift "to the Jews." Does the use of this phrase suggest that Tation is not included in the category? Conceivably, the synagogue of "the Jews" is meant to distinguish one congregation from another within the same region, as was the case in ancient Rome.86 But alternatively, the language may subtly reveal that Tation is an outsider.87 One
women's experience of being Christian differed from those of men, without in any way advocating, therefore, that all women experienced Christianity as fundamentally the same. Finally, from our analysis of the reconstructed experiences of Christian women in the first and second centuries, I propose within a few decades of the death of Jesus, early Christian communities may be mapped at two fairly different locations on Mary Douglas's grid-group diagram. The first-century Corinthian women prophets,
on childbearing and marriage, and so forth. Conversely, Christian communities spread across the high grid axis insisted that women (and men) conform much more to traditional gendered Greco-Roman norms and consistently sought to confine and constrain women. We might plausibly argue that this pattern continues through many centuries of Christianity, but at the very least, we now see that it continued through the remainder of the centuries under discussion here. - η Heresy as Women's Religion: