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Martha As Authority Figure For Early Christian Groups

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Chapter Summary

This chapter proposes that, just as some used the tradition of Thecla to justify women's right to teach and to baptise, stories of Martha could be used to justify women's right to lead at the Eucharist. This explains her inclusion particularly in the Apostolic Church Order (ACO), which uses Martha to counter precisely such an argument. While Tertullian countered the Thecla tradition by undermining its authenticity, the redactor of the ACO countered the Martha tradition by making her a spokesperson for his own position. This reading of the ACO, and in particular of Martha's role within the text, is consistent with the way Martha appears in other early Christian texts, including a number of the texts already surveyed. It will be recalled, for example, that the Hippolytan Commentary on the Song of Songs names Martha as apostle to the apostles.

Keywords: Apostolic Church Order (ACO) ; early Christian texts; Martha



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