XLVII Meeting of Scholars of Ancient Christianity 9-11 May 2019

Dear friends,

The Augustinianum and the Organizing Committee (J.A. Cabrera Montero, G. Caruso, F. Cocchini, M.G. Crepaldi, A. Di Berardino, V. Grossi, M. Marin, P. Mattei, A. Nazzaro, L. Perrone, E. Prinzivalli, R. Ronzani) cordially thank all who took part in the XLVI Meeting of Scholars of Ancient Christianity, and anncounce that the next Meeting will take place on 9, 10 and 11 May 2019, and will be dedicated to the topic:


“Masculum et feminam creavit eos” (Gen. 1,27)

Paradigms of the masculine and feminine in ancient Christianity


To be male or female is a biological characteristic. Over the centuries, however, to this purely physical situation, a vast series of social expectations and symbolic valences have been traced, crossing each epoch and each different culture with variations and nuances. Starting from the approach of pagan society and Judaism to gender identity, the Conference aims to analyse how being woman and man in Christian antiquity was understood and lived. Jesus of Nazareth regularly challenged gender as traditionally assumed in this context, as is evident in both canonical and apocryphal literature. The Pauline Letters, on the one hand, propose a profoundly innovative message in that men and women are placed on the same level (Gal. 3,28). On the other hand, the Letters affirm the submission of women (1 Tim. 2,8-15), by stating that the male is the image and glory of God (1 Cor. 1,1-16), in contrast with Gen. 1,27 that attributes to both sexes the characteristic of being the imago Dei, however this should be interpreted. Masculine and feminine can also be understood as metaphors of other things, in such instances, each case must be considered individually to determine the correct designation of gender. In the Sacred Scriptures, spousal imagery is frequent with male characteristics assigned to God and Christ, while the female imagery is reserved to Israel and the Church: this is an evident sign of the inequality that exists in the relationship between the sexes that is then mirrored in the divine-human relationship. This metaphor is further developed as it is found as such in the image of Christ as the bridegroom of the soul; in the assimilation of men with the intellect and women with feeling; and in Gnosticism in which the pleromatic syzygy is characterized by male-female polarity. The theoretical understandings – which are often masked in figurative language – are manifest in lived reality. Thus, very much like the contemporary culture in which it was operating, the ancient church also put into place practices and institutions aimed at emphasising, and sometimes creating, gender disparities. We can think, for example, of the link between masculinity and the exercise of power, so intrinsic as to be perceived as natural; or of the diversity of reflections aroused by the renunciation of marriage, depending on whether it was proposed and lived by men or women. An important idea on the subject comes from the observation of family dynamics: being married or a widowed, a parent or a child was understood, in the common sense as well as in canonical and civil law, in different ways according to the gender of the subjects in question, with ample results in the use of specific topoi applied to men and women. The contributors will approach the themes proposed in the above text considering authors who were either Christians or had links to Christians in the I-VIII centuries.

Segreteria Incontri Augustinianum, Via Paolo VI, 25 – 00193 Roma / Italia

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The Organizing Committee of the XLVII Meeting of Scholars of Ancient Christianity

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