Women, Class, and Society in Early Christianity

Models from Luke-Acts

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Especially given the burgeoning interest in the social world of the New Testament, it is remarkable that far too often scholars and students of the New Testament continue to view women homogeneously, as if all women in antiquity existed at the same social, political, and economic level.

Rather, women in antiquity, just as women of today, can be found anywhere along the spectrum of society, from voiceless slave to wealthy landowner. Failing to look at women's lives in light of their place in ancient class structures results in tunnelvision, and women are mistakenly depicted as being uniformly cut from the same social, economic, and political cloth.

Such misperception results in misunderstanding. First it perpetuates the notion that all women in antiquity were oppressed. Second it tends to neglect the under-classes.

Anyone interested in women's studies will find this work indispensable for understanding the variegated nature of women in the ancient world and the gospel's impact upon them.


"This work is a substantive contribution to the current efforts to use insights from social theory to illuminate the biblical text. Arlandson has combined perceptive use of an impressive range of evidence from Greco-Roman sources (social, conceptual, and literary) with judicious application of sociological categories and structures. The result is to provide new insights and perspectives on the significant social features--with their theological implications--of the community in and for which Luke-Acts was produced."
--Howard C. Kee, Professor Emeritus, Boston University

The Author

  1. James M. Arlandson

    James M. Arlandson

    James Malcolm Arlandson serves at Southern California College in Costa Mesa, California. He earned his MA in Religion at Southern California College and his PhD in Comparative Literature at the University of California, Riverside.

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