Markus Vinzent's Blog

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Women in early Christianity

Writing on Marcion's impact on early Roman liturgy I have seen that contrary to our later heresiologists, he must have enjoyed for a longer time the back up and a close, positive relation to other Roman communities, even once he had started his own around the year 144. This we can see from the fact that even under Callistus, the community that was directed by this banker adopted the liturgical innovation of Sabbath fasting which according to our sources was introduced by Marcion as a ritual, an actual practice that was held until around the year 1000 AD, but was not received outside, but solely in Rome! Hence we have to reckon with a particular influence of Marcion in this town. Several other features, for example, the celebration of Easter on a Sunday and as a celebration of the Resurrection, rather than in the East according to Jewish practice on the 14 Nisan and as a celebration of the passion, where the Roman church fights a liturgical and ritual struggle with the Easterners, support a more Marcionite Christianity in Rome than in some other places. Now it is interesting to note that women leadership had waned as had Paul's memory, or at least his theology even in almost all communities (including Rome prior to Marcion, if we take 1 Clement and Hermas as examples), but we could also look at the Pseudo-Pauline literature, and their position have gained a new stronghold, once Marcion came up with Paul's letters, and based on them, gave his 'more holy women' (sanctiores feminae) a special place in the community who were meant 'to teach, to dispute, to practice exorcism, to promise cures, and also to baptize' (Tert., Adv. Marc. V 8), hence practiced not only everything that cult officers would do in a Roman cult, but with a strong emphasis on class room activity. The only thing that is not mentioned is 'prophecizing' which, of course, developed at the same time outside Rome in Asia Minor as a thread to both the Roman antithetically Jewish Marcionite tradition and to the anti-Jewish non-(or shall we say less) Marcionite tradition in Asia Minor and Gaul. It is very interesting to see that Tertullian moves precisely towards the female guided Montanists while he is writing is works against Marcion, emphasizing the prophetic nature of Christianity and developing his anti-Jewish position, branding Marcion an ally of the Jews. In between we have institution-oriented bishops like Irenaeus and many Minor Asian colleagues who move between Marcion and the Montanists, and see themselves neither as a totally new Pauline community which embraces Jews and Greeks, nor a new Prophetism, but as a third race that replaces the old world, be it Jewish or pagan, based on what they replaced, the male oriented Jewish communities and the Roman model of the male-oriented oikos where women soon have less and less self-determined space.


  1. It is important to remember that the person most scandalized by the role of women in the Church seems to be Irenaeus, the man who came to define 'orthodoxy' for the next period of the religion. My sense is that Irenaeus is reacting to Celsus's characterizing the religion being entirely dependent on the testimony of 'hysterical women.' In one sense Celsus means the gospel account of the resurrection certainly. But it also extends to the account of Marcellina the 'Carpocratian.'

    Has some confusion arisen between Marcion's coming to Rome under Anicetus and Marcellina's contemporary arrival? Jerome seems to think that Marcellina was a Marcionite. If someone could explain the linguistic relationship between 'Marcellina' and 'Marcion' one might be able to explain the rise of orthodoxy as a reaction against the prominent role of women in Marcionitism.

  2. Hi

    Thank you for sharing such article with us, i am also confused between Marcion's coming to Rome under Anicetus and Marcellina's contemporary arrival? Jerome seems to think that Marcellina was a Marcionite.

    Thank you
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  3. A gift is now delivered and proven to the whole world as a witness. Satan has deceived the whole world until the woman of Rev 12 delivers the true word of God. This woman is not a church, nor Mary, nor Israel, she is the prophet like unto Moses raised up of her brethren given the power of Elijah Matt 17:3, Acts 3:21-23, Luke 1:17 to restore the true word John 1:1 from the wilderness Rev 12:6 to prepare a people. God our true Father will not put any child of his into a hell fire no matter what their sins, no matter if they repent in this life or not. It never entered the heart or mind of God to ever do such a thing Jer7:31, Jer 19:5. Turn your heart to the children of God. Begin here The proof is in the hearing; prove all things, God chose a woman.

  4. Very insightful article...