Roman wives, Roman widows: the appearance of 'new' women and the Pauline communities

Bruce W. Winter

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


In ancient Roman law "you were what you wore." This legal principle became highly significant because, beginning in the first century A.D., a new kind of woman emerged across the Roman empire -- a woman whose provocative dress and sometimes promiscuous lifestyle contrasted starkly with the decorum of the traditional married woman. What a woman chose to wear came to identify her as either new or modest. Augustus legislated against the new woman. Philosophical schools encouraged their followers to avoid embracing her way of life. And, as this fascinating book demonstrates for the first time, the presence of the new woman was also felt in the early church, where Paul exhorted Christian wives and widows to emulate neither her dress code nor her conduct. Using his extensive knowledge both of the Graeco-Roman world and of Paul's writings, Bruce Winter shows how changing social mores among women impacted the Pauline communities. This helps to explain the controversial texts on marriage veils in 1 Corinthians, instructions in 1 Timothy regarding dress code and the activities of young widows, and exhortations in Titus for older women to call new wives back to their senses regarding their marriage and family responsibilities. Based on a close investigation of neglected literary and archaeological evidence, "Roman Wives, Roman Widows" makes groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of first-century women, including their participation in public life as lawyers, magistrates, and political figures, which in turn affected women's ministry in the Pauline communities.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationGrand Rapids, Michigan
PublisherWilliam B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
ISBN (Print)0802849717
Publication statusPublished - 2003


Dive into the research topics of 'Roman wives, Roman widows: the appearance of 'new' women and the Pauline communities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this