Macquarie University
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The perspectives of the Greek papyri of Egypt on the religious beliefs, practices and experiences of Christian and Jewish women from 100 CE to 400 CE

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posted on 2022-03-28, 15:21 authored by Erica Ann Mathieson
The documentary papyri are an unparalleled source for the study of women in antiquity providing information about women’s lives and relationships. Among the papyri are numbers of female-authored texts which allow women’s own voices to be heard. The perspectives of the papyri nuance what is known about women from other sources. This thesis identifies and analyses the papyri from 100 CE to 400 CE that contain information about the religious lives of Jewish and Christian women. As sources, the papyri function in distinctly different ways for the two religious groups. The choice of Jewish and Christian women reflects the communities’ shared monotheism within a polytheistic though increasingly henotheistic background, and their shared literary and revelatory foundation in the Septuagint. The study of both communities is consistent with what is now understood of the complex interrelation between them in the first centuries of the Christian Era. To the extent possible in each text the women’s religious identities, participation in their religious communities and personal religious practice are examined. The thesis uses a methodology that allows the women’s beliefs, practices and experiences to be embedded in their ‘ordinary’ lives. This approach makes possible the study of women while avoiding the historiographical problems of considering women’s lives in isolation from men’s lives and from the rest of history, and presuming a single entity ‘woman’. It allows the women’s religious status to be explored in relation to its expression in their concerns and behaviour.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- Texts written by Christian women -- Christian women's use of "Biblical" vocabulary and imagery -- Christian women's theological positions -- Christian women's practice of prayer -- Christian women, marriage and family -- Documents written to Christian women or referring to Christian women -- Ascetic Christian women -- Evidence of the papyri for the religious lives of Jewish women -- Christian women and magic -- Conclusion.


"Submitted June 2006 Submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy" Bibliography: pages 393-428

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University,Division of Humanities, Department of Ancient History

Department, Centre or School

Department of Ancient History

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Alanna Nobbs

Additional Supervisor 1

Malcolm Choat


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Erica Ann Mathieson 2006.






1 online resources (viii, 428 pages)

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mq:31177 2172996