Banishing Eve

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01*20100321

Historian of the ancient world Bettany Hughes uses the latest scholarship to take us back to the 2nd century AD, as pagan Europe began to embrace Christianity.

What emerged out of this crucible of religious change marked the beginning of the end for women as religious leaders for a millennium and half.

Common wisdom would have it that women went from goddesses to flower arrangers in just over a century.

But why - and was it that straightforward?

Bettany finds that the history of women in the early church is written more in the fragments of stone left behind than in the scriptures.

She visits Rome and traces the activities of women in the early church as they fought hand in hand with men to see their faith survive.

Things got more difficult after Christianity became the recognised religion of the Roman Empire and beyond.

But this is not just a tale of capitulation and annihilation; women fought doggedly for their positions.

From Nicea to Northumbria, Bettany follows the decline - but not quite fall - of women in the early church.

Bettany Hughes looks at the history of the church to ask, 'where have all the women gone?'

01*20100321

Historian of the ancient world Bettany Hughes uses the latest scholarship to take us back to the 2nd century AD, as pagan Europe began to embrace Christianity.

What emerged out of this crucible of religious change marked the beginning of the end for women as religious leaders for a millennium and half.

Common wisdom would have it that women went from goddesses to flower arrangers in just over a century.

But why - and was it that straightforward?

Bettany finds that the history of women in the early church is written more in the fragments of stone left behind than in the scriptures.

She visits Rome and traces the activities of women in the early church as they fought hand in hand with men to see their faith survive.

Things got more difficult after Christianity became the recognised religion of the Roman Empire and beyond.

But this is not just a tale of capitulation and annihilation; women fought doggedly for their positions.

From Nicea to Northumbria, Bettany follows the decline - but not quite fall - of women in the early church.

Bettany Hughes looks at the history of the church to ask, 'where have all the women gone?'

02 LAST20100328

In the second part of her series charting the role of women in the founding of the Christian Church, historian Bettany Hughes continues to explore gender tension at the heart of the new religion.

As Christianity became the state religion in the Roman Empire and spread into Europe, Bettany follows the concerted efforts to remove women from spiritual life.

The church was becoming organised and its creed defined - and as the church fathers met in Nicea and Ephesus they were faced with a decision that would affect the status of women for the next thousand years.

How were women to be seen in the new church? The two characters of Eve and Mary dominated the debate and had profound effects on the religious perception of women.

But women fought doggedly for their positions.

Bettany sets out to re-discover these women from Rome, Greece and a windy Whitby and finds that the history of women in the early Church is written as much in the fragments of stone left behind as in the official scriptures.

Bettany Hughes asks what happened to the women who helped to found Christianity.

02 LAST20100328

In the second part of her series charting the role of women in the founding of the Christian Church, historian Bettany Hughes continues to explore gender tension at the heart of the new religion.

As Christianity became the state religion in the Roman Empire and spread into Europe, Bettany follows the concerted efforts to remove women from spiritual life.

The church was becoming organised and its creed defined - and as the church fathers met in Nicea and Ephesus they were faced with a decision that would affect the status of women for the next thousand years.

How were women to be seen in the new church? The two characters of Eve and Mary dominated the debate and had profound effects on the religious perception of women.

But women fought doggedly for their positions.

Bettany sets out to re-discover these women from Rome, Greece and a windy Whitby and finds that the history of women in the early Church is written as much in the fragments of stone left behind as in the official scriptures.

Bettany Hughes asks what happened to the women who helped to found Christianity.