Register early for best rates.

Women and Gender in Early Christianity

February 17–18, 2017
Billings, Montana

As our own culture debates the proper place of women, we often hear appeals to “biblical ideals.” But what did people think in Bible times about women and their proper roles? The Bible, it turns out, offers a variety of opinions on this subject. The early church inherited a range of ideas and customs from Judaism and the Hebrew Bible as well as Greek society, and within the church itself there were differing ideals. What does the Bible have to say about women and gender, and what can its possibilities mean for us today?

Photo of Perry Kea

Perry Kea (Ph.D., University of Virginia) is Associate Professor of biblical studies at the University of Indianapolis, Indiana. A Fellow of the Jesus Seminar since 1987, he currently serves as Chair of the Westar Institute Board of Directors.

Marti Steussy

Marti J. Steussy (Ph.D., Vanderbilt) is MacAllister-Petticrew Professor Emerita of Biblical Interpretation at in Indianapolis. She has served as a translator for the Common English Bible project (2011), and is the author or editor of many books, most recently Samuel and His God (2010).

Program Details

The “Genre” Gap

Do biblical stories reflect social reality, or even claim to? What about the “laws”—were they known and expected to be observed in practice? Are the answers to these questions always the same? This session explores some of the Bible’s genres, such as myth, law, and prophesy, and examines how our own often unexamined assumptions about them complicate efforts to understand gender roles in the ancient world. (Steussy)
Friday evening, 7:30–9 pm

The Bible and Gender

Love, Sex, Marriage, and the Bible—It’s Complicated!” Love, sex, and marriage involved a variety of stakes in biblical cultures as in our own. Here we will look at some of that variety and try to understand how ancient experience was the same as and different from our own. (Steussy)
Saturday, 9:30–10:30 am

In Christ There is Neither Male nor Female? Recent scholarship has demonstrated that early Christianity was diverse. It did not develop along a single track. Similarly, attitudes toward women were not uniform. In some early Christian communities women exercised leadership roles, maybe even as apostles. In other communities, Greco-Roman social codes that subordinated women were dominant. (Kea)
Saturday, 11 am – noon

Women, Church, Future

Apostle, Evangelist, and Martyr. By the second and third centuries, Christian communities were scattered throughout the Roman Empire. Three early Christian texts—the Gospel of Mary, the Acts of Paul and Thecla, and the Martyrdom of Perpetua—provide us with glimpses of female leadership and heroism. (Kea)
Saturday, 1:30–2:30 pm

Talk about Gender. Perry Kea and Marti Steussy join participants in reflecting on session content, asking and answering questions, and exploring the possibilities and prospects for gender and religion for the future.
Saturday, 3–4 pm


Billings First Church (UCC)

Local Contact and Information

All events at:

Billings First Church (UCC)
310 North 27th Street
Billings, MT 59101

For local information, contact:

Mike Mulberry
(406) 245-6477


All Sessions

  • Individual Rate $75
  • Pre-registration Rate (by Feb 3rd) $60
  • Additional Family Members $50

Single Sessions

  • Friday Evening Lecture $20
  • Saturday Morning Workshop $30
  • Saturday Afternoon Workshop $30

Refunds are available until two weeks before the event if requested in writing, minus a $10 administrative fee. No refunds will be given after that date.