Becoming Visible

wilkinson modestySt Thecla’s day seems as good a time as any to mark the arrival of two very different new books that are on my desk at the moment, which both mark the distance scholarship on that most marvellous of early Christian heroines has travelled since Dennis MacDonald published The Legend and the Apostle in 1983.

Hylen - A Modest ApostleWhile Susan Hylen’s A Modest Apostle: Thecla and the History of Women in the Early Church (Oxford) seems aimed at re-positioning Thecla as a somewhat less ‘radical’ heroine than previous scholarship has tended to suggest, Kate Wilkinson’s Women and Modesty in Late Antiquity (Cambridge) takes the conversation in a related-yet-completely-different direction, considering how attention to modern ethnographic studies of feminine modesty can challenge our understanding of how this paradoxical virtue could serve both as a claim to power and as a plea for protection in late antiquity.

Further thoughts to follow! My initial reaction is delight at the appearance of both books, and a secret hope that they will disagree on what to do with their shared insight that we can’t understand early Christianity without understanding the paraxodes faced, and perpetuated, by early Christian women,


One comment

  1. Those two do look like very interesting reads! And what a timely coincidence for this post to pop up in my emails, I’ll have to look them up for my honours thesis while I’m editing away. Looking forward to your thoughts on them.

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