In Græco-Roman society
women were (theoretically)
under the control of men: their fathers and then their husbands.
Widows, thus, occupied an unusual position: women with no
male "protectors". Usually this was a disaster: widows were
often the poorest of the poor. Middle and upper class
widows of means, on the other hand, often used their resources as they
chose (in some cases, for the spread of new religious movements
Widows thus played a major role in the early church, especially
since remarriage, although allowed, was discouraged. There
is much evidence that widows often joined a quasi-monastic "order"
as early as the I Century. However, the distinctive features of this
order, and the causes of its eventual disappearence (assuming it was not
to later monasticism) are matters of dispute.
Unfortunately, in spite of widespread scholarly interest in
this topic and its frequent use by both sides in debates about
the role of women in the Church (and especially about
there is not much currently online.
Norman Hugh Redington
Nave's Topical Bible: (References are to King James Version.)
1912 Catholic Encyclopedia: (Read with caution)
Widows in the Church:
READ WITH CAUTION: This is a Protestant
sermon, but it contains a fairly good overview of
Biblical passages about widows.
--- Bible BB
- Karel van der Toorn:
Torn between vice and virtue ---
Stereotypes of the widow in Israel
and Mesopotamia, (1995).
Female Stereotypes in
Religious Traditions edited by R.
Kloppenborg and W. J. Hauegraaf,
(Leiden: Brill, 1995): p. 1
- St. Ambrose of Milan:
SOME NOTABLE WIDOWS:
Return to St Pachomius Library.