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date: 26 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Violence nestles cozily and intimately at the very heart of the Christian story. From the execution of a Jewish man named Jesus through the Pauline letters, passion narratives, and martyrologies, violence appears at the crux of what came to define Christianity for many in the ancient world, and plays a central role in soteriological ideas that distinguished Christianity from neighboring belief systems at a very early date. This story of violence is intimately connected to one of power and empire, collective identity, and narrative. As so many scholars have shown, it is also embedded in discourses of gender—concerns about the relationship between gender, power, and authority weave themselves through early Christian writings, both canonical and extracanonical. This chapter interrogates the associations and implications of violence and gender in what came to be regarded as early Christian writings, including some that were eventually rejected as heretical by the imperially sanctioned church.

Keywords: gender, violence, suffering, death, Jesus, sexual violence, rape, Hypostasis of the Archons, Thecla, martyrdom

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