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Gender and Violence in Early Christianity

February 3–4, 2017
Miami, Florida

Gender is, among other things, a language that people use to communicate feelings and experiences—anxiety about the body and desire for power, for example. How did early Christians think about the men and women in their communities, and how did they use gendered language and imagery to express their hopes and their fears? Roman imperial violence is the sometimes subtle, sometimes explicit, subtext for these discussions.

Mai Kotrosits

Maia Kotrosits (Ph.D., Union Theological Seminary) is Assistant Professor of Religion, Classics, and Queer Studies at Denison University in Granville, Ohio. She is the author of Rethinking Early Christian Identity (2015) and co-author of Re-Reading the Gospel of Mark Amidst of Loss and Trauma (2013).

Photo of Celene Lillie

Celene Lillie (Ph.D., Union Theological Seminary) is the Director of the Tanho Center for a new New Testament and on the pastoral staff at Boulder First United Methodist Church in Colorado. She is the author of several books, including The Rape of Eve (forthcoming 2017).

Program Details

Men, Women, and Meaning-Making in Early Christianity

Some early Christian texts claim women should keep silent and obey their husbands, while others show women holding authoritative positions. Jesus sometimes appears powerful and in control (hallmarks of ancient ideas about masculinity); other times he appears vulnerable and passive (hallmarks of ancient ideas about femininity). How do we make sense of this confusing picture, especially as it relates to ancient Rome and the place of Christians in it?
Friday evening, 7:30–9 pm

Body Language in Corinthians

Paul’s letters to the Corinthians offer one of the New Testament’s most mixed, subtle negotiations of gender. They give voice to Paul’s concerns about the violence haunting the Corinthian community. How did his assumptions and declarations about gender and bodies influence the subsequent history of Christianity?
Saturday, 9:30–10:30 am

Masculinity and the Crisis of Pain

In the ancient world, the hero’s death denoted commitment both to a cause and to self-control, even in perilous circumstances. To die the noble death was to die a masculine death. Death on a cross, however, was seen as emasculating, full of shame and vulnerability. What did the crucifixion of a highly masculine Jesus mean for certain early Christians? And what might a feminized Jesus do for others?
Saturday, 11 am – noon

Negotiating Gender and Violence

In the Acts of Paul and Thecla, a woman enamored with Paul’s message flouts convention by refusing to marry, donning men’s clothing, and baptizing herself. Thecla is both an ideal model of ancient masculinity and an inspiration to women. Yet in some early Christian retellings of Genesis, the rape of Eve suggests the violence of the Roman world was not so easily evaded.
Saturday, 1:30–2:30 pm

Gender at the Crossroads

How does attention to gender roles enable richer interpretations of early Christian literature? In what ways is reading for gender about more than learning what men and women were doing in the 1st century? Includes sustained time for conversations with attendees.
Saturday, 3–4 pm


Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ

Local Contact and Information

Coral Gables will host a lunch on site of Hearty Mediterranean Soup lunch (Vegetarian) with chips, cookies and beverages and will gratefully accept donations.

All events at:

Coral Gables United Church of Christ
3010 De Soto Blvd.
Coral Gables, FL 33134

Lunch available on site (donations accepted).

For local information, contact:

Megan Smith
(305) 448-7421 ext. 119


All Sessions

  • Individual Rate $75
  • Pre-registration Rate (by Jan 20th) $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.