Christianity changed how women were viewed in Roman culture

There is an interesting article by Chuck Colsen in the Christian Post dated yesterday about how Christianity changed the role of women in Roman society:

In her new book, Paul Among the People, classics scholar Sarah Ruden writes the common view of the Apostle Paul as an “oppressor of women” could “hardly be more wrong.” With the exception of a handful of high-born matrons, the Roman world often treated women worse than it did cattle.

This was especially true of slaves, who comprised one-third of Rome’s population. They could expect beatings, rape, and, if they were “fortunate,” being forced into prostitution. It was a world where unwanted children were left to die of exposure-infanticide.

Even high-status women ranked, at best, third in her husband’s hierarchy of concerns, behind his parents and her children. Sexually, she was expected to be at her husband’s beck and call. Wives could be disposed of when their husbands no longer desired them.

Thus, when Paul wrote that the “husband should treat the wife’s body as his own,” he inverted the way marriage was seen in the classical world. As Ruden put it, the ridiculous idea that some promote that Paul saw women as “sexual and domestic servants” could only be the result of a “brain fever.”

Paul’s’ teaching about equality in the Church was, if anything, even more revolutionary. The distinctions between slave and free, high-born and plebian were so much a part of the classical world that Paul’s teaching was scandalous. It was so scandalous that the pagan critic Celsus called Christianity a “religion of women, children and slaves.”

Good stuff.

Read the full article here.

Noah’s Ark found on Mount Ararat?


Any thoughts on the news reports in the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph today?

A group of Chinese and Turkish evangelical Christians said they had uncovered remnants of Noah’s Ark on its legendary mountain resting place in Turkey.
Noah’s Ark Ministries International, a Hong Kong-based documentary outfit, said they recovered wooden specimens from a structure on Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey that carbon dating proved the material was 4800 years old, around the same time the ark is said to have been afloat.
“It’s not 100 per cent that it is Noah’s Ark but we think it is 99.9 per cent that this is it,” said Yeung Wing-cheung, a Hong Kong documentary filmmaker and member of the 15-strong team
Read more in the Daily Mail (here) and Daily Telegraph (here).
The comments on the Daily Mail article also make some interesting reading :S
Since I wrote this post earlier, Jeremy Berg has pointed out New Testiment scholar Ben Witherington’s comments warning us that it is likely to be an old ark shrine set up by ark hunters from long ago: 
We know that since ancient times, people have been searching for Noah’s Ark.  Indeed, in NT times there was a little village in Turkey that minted coins with Mr. and Mrs. Noah on it, claiming they were the village near the spot where Noah landed!   People, ancient and modern have been making pilgrimages to the Ararat mountain region,  and at various points in history, it appears some enterprising souls have set up ark shrines, with some replica elements, to encourage tourism (and indeed to collect tourist denarii).  This has been going on since time immemorial.  It is possible another ark shrine has been found, like the one found in the 70s, only this one seems more substantial.
Still interesting stuff though, eh?

Imperial history of the Middle East in 90 seconds


I saw this link posted on Ben Witherington blog on Beliefnet – and thought it was interesting:
“Who has controlled the Middle East over the course of history? Pretty much everyone. Egyptians, Turks, Jews, Romans, Arabs, Persians, Europeans…the list goes on. Who will control the Middle East today? That is a much bigger question.”
You can see more interesting maps of history at the Maps of War website – well worth the visit!


Rewriting history: The oldest temple in the world

There is an interesting article in Newsweek about a recent announcement of a discovery of the oldest temple in the world, Gobeckli Tepe, in Eastern Turkey.

‘They call it potbelly hill, after the soft, round contour of this final lookout in southeastern Turkey. To the north are forested mountains. East of the hill lies the biblical plain of Harran, and to the south is the Syrian border, visible 20 miles away, pointing toward the ancient lands of Mesopotamia and the Fertile Crescent, the region that gave rise to human civilization. And under our feet, according to archeologist Klaus Schmidt, are the stones that mark the spot—the exact spot—where humans began that ascent.”

Read the full article here.