• Elif Aynaci

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis argues that Greco-Roman literary and archaeological evidence from Ephesus, in light of Greco-Roman evidence from the wider Asia Minor region, directly affects how we interpret early Christian writings related to Ephesus. We suggest that the early Christian authors employed Greco-Roman cultural elements in their texts in order to build social guidelines for the early Christian community. We will focus on the representation of women in Greco-Roman evidence and early Christian texts and compare the approaches of two sets of evidence. Our aim is to identify the differences and similarities in how these sources present women.The majority of existing scholarship on the subject has been reluctant to employ local archaeological, and to a degree literary Greco-Roman evidence in order to construct a background for the early Christian texts and subsequently interpret them. Either the comments on an early Christian text are based purely on information from directly within the text itself, or a random selection of literary and/or archaeological Greco-Roman evidence is used, with no regard for locality. Moreover, scholarship which does take comparative non-Christian evidence into account has utilised mostly Roman sources, meaning there is a need for a greater consideration of specifically Ephesian evidence in order to better understand the early Christian community there.The aim of this thesis is firstly to argue that local Greco-Roman archaeological and literary evidence provide a contextual basis from which we can properly interpret early Christian texts, and secondly to investigate different aspects of the lives of Greco-Roman Ephesian women. We discuss that the context of an early Christian writing is of vital importance, and, therefore, the evidence which helps to rebuild that context should derive from the text's immediate locale. We will argue that a comparison of the early Christian writings to their Greco-Roman context will reveal a significant similarity between the writings and their surrounding culture, contrary to common scholarly opinion. Proper construction of a text's background can bring fresh interpretations of how early Christian writings portray women. In this respect we will challenge many scholars on their views about subjects raised in the early Christian writings, such as the relationship between the married couple, the status and reputation of widows, the social standing of women, and women's roles as teachers. We will see that employment of Ephesian Greco-Roman evidence for interpretation of the Ephesian early Christian writings will provide perspectives on the texts which have not previously been recognised.
Date of Award1 Aug 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorRoberta Mazza (Supervisor)

Cite this