Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Sara Parvis - Irenaeus, women and tradition

Irenaeus has been invoked from a feminist perspective both as a villain and as a hero in his views on women. On the one hand, he rejects and even laughs at a number of female-centred and female-friendly myths and practices among different Gnostic sects; on the other, women are at the centre of his concerns- he sees Mary as recapitulating Eve and reversing her disobedience, just as Christ recapitulates and reverses Adam’s.

In this paper, I will look at another aspect of Irenaeus’ treatment of women- his tacit but sympathetic addressing of their criticisms of mainstream Christianity within Against the Heresies. I will look at the ways he defends an active role for women within the Christian tradition, above all by his argument that right reading of Scripture demands a space in the church for women prophets. 

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