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Lynn H. Cohick, Women in the World of the Earliest Christians

One important contribution Cohick makes is in her elaboration on the Latin term sine manu (lit. “without hand”), where the married woman’s “father retained legal authority” (42) . Here she defines the marital relationship where “the husband did not gain complete authority over his wife. She remained part of her father’s family” (35). This term is one of the common threads that Cohick pulls through the text, noticing the variety of potential liberties that this sort of marriage brought to the woman who would not only retain some of her private freedoms (depending on the compassion of her father), but also her potential rights to property or dowry assets. Notwithstanding, it could also mean that she could be removed and married to another for the social benefit and advancement of her father, without the consent of her first husband. This idea merits further study and the reader is encouraged to approach this book with eyes to see all that Cohick has to offer on it.

Cohick’s conclusion candidly confesses the plight of every researcher, “the more information I gathered, the less coherent and consistent the picture of real women appeared” (322). Thus, returning to her hermeneutic she posits, “We must exercise more imagination to repopulate the ancient landscape with women” (325). Herein she reiterates the evidence of women who held both official and unofficial roles of power and leadership in the Greco-Roman culture. This included the retention of their personal rights over financial assets and it included the ability to contribute to the theological conversation and to support Jesus and his apostles’ ministries financially.

Reviewed by John R. Miller

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Category: Church History, Pneuma Review, Winter 2012

About the Author: John R. Miller is an ordained minister with Elim Fellowship of Lima, NY and serves as Pastor of Education with Living Word Temple of Restoration, Rochester, NY. He has a degree from Elim Bible Institute, a B.Div. (Trinity Theological Seminary), C.P.E. (University of Rochester), M.Div. (Northeastern Seminary), and Ph.D. (Regent University). He teaches at Regent University and Elim Bible Institute & College.

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