Crispina and Her Sisters: Women and Authority in Early Christianity

December 1, 2020
Crispina and Her Sisters: Women and Authority in Early Christianity

Discovering reliable information about women in earlyChristianity is a challenging enterprise. Most people have neverheard of Bitalia, Veneranda, Crispina, Petronella, Leta, Sofia theDeacon, and many others even though their catacomb and tomb artsuggests their authority was influential and valued by earlyChristian communities. This book explores visual imagery found onburial artifacts of prominent early Christian women. It carefullysituates the tomb art within the cultural context of customaryRoman commemorations of the dead. Recent scholarship about Romanportrait sarcophagi and the interpretation of early Christian artis also given significant attention. An in-depth review of women'shistory in the first four centuries of Christianity providesimportant context. A fascinating picture emerges of women'sauthority in the early church, a picture either not available orsadly distorted in the written history. It is often said "a pictureis worth a thousand words." The portrait tombs of fourth-centuryChristian women suggest that they viewed themselves and/or theirloved ones viewed them as persons of authority with religiousinfluence.