A History of Women in Christianity to 1600


Synthesizing diverse contemporary scholarship into a single, easily accessible volume, author Hannah Matis assesses the role of women in the development of Christian doctrine, and examines how structural and environmental factors have shaped women’s engagement with Christianity.

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About the Book

An overarching history of women in the Christian Church from antiquity to the Reformation, perfect for advanced undergraduates and seminary students alike

A History of Women in Christianity to 1600 presents a continuous narrative account of women’s engagement with the Christian tradition from its origins to the seventeenth century, synthesizing a diverse range of scholarship into a single, easily accessible volume. Locating significant individuals and events within their historical context, this well-balanced textbook offers an assessment of women’s contributions to the development of Christian doctrine while providing insights into how structural and environmental factors have shaped women’s experience of Christianity.

Written by a prominent scholar in the field, the book addresses complex discourses concerning women and gender in the Church, including topics often ignored in broad narratives of Christian history. Students will explore the ways women served in liturgical roles within the church, the experience of martyrdom for early Christian women, how the social and political roles of women changed after the fall of Rome, the importance of women in the re-evangelization of Western Europe, and more. Through twelve chapters, organized chronologically, this comprehensive text:

  • Examines conceptions of sex and gender tracing back their roots to the Jewish, Hellenistic, and Roman culture
  • Provides a unique view of key women in the Church in the Middle Ages, including the rise of women’s monasticism and the impact of the Inquisition
  • Compares and contrasts each of the major confessions of the Church during the Reformation
  • Explores lesser-known figures from beyond the Western European tradition

A History of Women in Christianity to 1600 is an essential textbook for undergraduate and graduate courses in Christian traditions, historical theology, religious studies, medieval history, Reformation history, and gender history, as well as an invaluable resource for seminary students and scholars in the field.

Publication Details 

(December 15, 2022)
272 pages
ISBN-13: ‎

About the Author

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Dr. Hannah Matis is Associate Professor of Church History at Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria, Virginia, USA. Her areas of expertise include Carolingian biblical interpretation, late antiquity and medieval history, Reformation history, Anglican studies, the history of spirituality, and the religious experience of women within the Christian tradition. She is the author of The Song of Songs in the Early Middle Ages (2019).

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Faculty Scholarship at VTS

Virginia Theological Seminary is the flagship seminary of the Episcopal Church. Founded in 1823, VTS faculty prepare leaders from around the world for both ordained and lay service in the Church. Our faculty are a diverse community of scholars who are committed to excellence in teaching and research. Through publications, public speaking, and travel, faculty engage with the wider Church and world, while shaping the next generation of theological leaders.

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