In Stone and Story

Early Christianity in the Roman World

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Chapter 16: Family & Solidarity

Class Activities

  1. Have students devise speech bubbles to put into the mouth of the women depicted in figure 16.1 (and discussed on that page) — Penelope and Io. In what ways might the ancient expectation about their role as women be challenged today? Have students devise the speech bubbles to reflect those challenges.
  2. Using the modern sitcom or dramatic television show, compare family dynamics in our twenty-first-century Western world with those of the ancient world, as presented in various places in chapter 16 of In Stone and Story. Have students reference modern presentations of “family” (however that may be defined) and compare them with Pompeian or New Testament depictions.

Discussion Questions

  1. How are ideal families depicted in the frescos of Pompeii? Are there overarching themes or motifs representing deeply held views about the ideal family?
  2. How are family relationships viewed in New Testament texts? What are the range of views, expressed especially by the Gospels and the letters of Paul?
  3. How do New Testament views of the family appear to clash or resonate with modern views of the family? In what ways have New Testament views on the family have affected Western laws and customs involving the family?
  4. How might “fictive kinship” be manifested today in your cultures? What are the ways in which kinship language has been adopted by certain groups?