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Roman Wives, Roman Widows: The Appearance of New Women and the Pauline Communities
Bruce W. Winter

0802849717 Retail Price: $27.00
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Format: Paperback, 254pp.
ISBN: 9780802849717
Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Pub. Date: October 1, 2003

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From The Publisher:

In Roman law you were what you wore. This legal principle became highly significant because, beginning in the first century A.D., a “new” kind of woman emerged across the Roman empire — a woman whose provocative dress and sometimes promiscuous lifestyle contrasted starkly with the decorum of the traditional married woman. What a woman chose to wear came to identify her as either “new” or “modest.”

Augustus legislated against the “new” woman. Philosophical schools encouraged their followers to avoid embracing her way of life. And, as this fascinating book demonstrates for the first time, the presence of the “new” woman was also felt in the early church, where Christian wives and widows were exhorted to emulate neither her dress code nor her conduct.

Using his extensive knowledge both of the Graeco-Roman world and of the New Testament writings, Bruce Winter shows how changing social mores among women impacted the Pauline communities. This helps to explain the controversial texts on marriage veils in 1 Corinthians, instructions in 1 Timothy regarding dress code and the activities of young widows, and exhortations in Titus for older women to call new wives “back to their senses” regarding their marriage and family responsibilities.

Based on a close investigation of neglected literary and archaeological evidence, Roman Wives, Roman Widows makes groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of first-century women, including their participation in public life as lawyers, magistrates, and political figures, which in turn affected women’s ministry in the Pauline communities.


Bruce Winter draws on a wide range of classical and Christian sources to illuminate both Roman society and early Christian society. Placing New Testament texts in the wider social and cultural setting of the Mediterranean in early imperial Roman times, he makes a highly readable contribution to recent scholarship that is bringing about closer integration of Roman and early Christian studies, to the benefit of both.
—Beryl Rawson


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About the Author

Table of Contents

    Foreword, by G. W. Bowersock
    Preface to the Second Edition
    Preface to the First Edition

    The purpose of this book
    The sophists
    Philo among the Alexandrian sophists
    Paul among the Corinthian sophists
    Recent sophistic and rhetorical studies
    The structure of this book


    Introduction to Part I

  1. A student among the Alexandrian sophists

  2. The shortage of sophists' schools
    A private tutor in rhetoric as an alternative
    The public declaimers
    The status of students of the sophists
  3. Dio and the Alexandrian sophistic leaders

  4. The conflict in Alexandria
    Dio as Alexandria's counsellor and saviour
    Philosophers as former leaders in politeia
    Orators, poets and sophists as present leaders in politeia
    Orators and sophists in Dio's corpus
  5. Who are Philo's sophists?

  6. Identifying Philo's sophists
    Present-day orators and sophists in Contempl. 31
    The throng of sophists in Agr. 136
    Sophists and Sceptics and Academic philosophers in QG III.33
    Sophists and Peripatetics, Stoics, Epicureans etc. in Congr. 67
    Sophists and the ancient poets Homer and Hesiod in Op. 157
  7. Philo's critique of the Alexandrian sophistic tradition

  8. The sophistic misuse of paideia for vice
    The sophistic misuse of paideia for deception
    The sophistic misuse of paideia for personal gain
  9. Philo among the sophists

  10. Philo as orator and debater
    Debating with and defeating the sophists
    General conclusions


    Introduction to Part II

  11. Epictetus and the Corinthian student of the sophists

  12. Epictetus and the sophists
    Epictetus and sophistic declamations
  13. Dio and Plutarch among the Corinthian sophists

  14. Dio among the Corinthian sophists
    Favorinus, the sophist, in Corinth
    Herodes Atticus, the sophist and benefactor of Corinth
    Plutarch among the Corinthian sophists
  15. Paul and sophistic conventions

  16. Introduction
    Paul's anti-sophistic coming and conduct:
    1 Corinthians 2.1–5; 9
    The Corinthians' sophistic response: 1 Corinthians 1.12, 3.4
  17. Paul's critique of the Corinthian sophistic tradition

  18. The so-called 'apologia': 1 Corinthians 1–4
    Inferiority and sophistic status: 1 Corinthans 1.4–9
    The idolatry of sophistic imitation: 1 Corinthians 1.10–17a
    Sophistic boasting: 1 Corinthians 1.17b-31
    The sophist/disciple boasting and imitation reversed: 1 Corinthians 3.18-23
    The irony of Paul's 'covert allusion', boasting, status, and true imitation: 1 Corinthians 4.6ff.
    Conclusion ,
  19. Paul among the Christian sophists

  20. Introduction
    The sophistic assessment of Paul as orator and debater: 2 Corinthians 10.10, 11.6, 12.16
    Paul's assessment of the Christian sophists: 2 Corinthians 10–13
  21. Conclusions

  22. The first-century sophistic movement
    Philo's and Paul's sophistic opponents
    The sophistic versus the Gnostic thesis
    Philo, Paul, and rhetoric
    Philo and Paul — towards a comparison
    Athens and Jerusalem, the Academy and the church

    Index of subjects
    Index of literary sources
    Index of non-literary sources
    Index of authors

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