Research: Women’s Leadership Roles in the Early Christian Church

This was a paper I wrote for a “History of Christianity” course at the University of Washington Tacoma.  Just stumbled across it in my computer files and decided to cut-and-paste in case anyone’s interested.  🙂


Women’s Leadership Roles in the Early Christian Church

by Deborah Taylor-Hough

The leadership roles women play within Christianity today vary greatly depending upon which branch of the Christian family tree is being examined.   Women can be ordained as pastors or priests in some denominations but not in others.  So the question remains: what was the role of women in the Christian church during the first century?  The modern Feminist perspective has brought an influx of study on the topic of women in the historical church, but not without experiencing negative criticism from those who view such studies as “an anachronistic and unrealistic application” of historical scholarship.[1]  Even without taking into account Feminist reconstructions of the early church, it is clear from Biblical and historical sources that a number of women held active leadership roles during the time of Jesus and also in the early days of Christianity.

Historical and Cultural Context for Women in Leadership Continue reading