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A Modest ApostleThecla and the History of Women in the Early Church$
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Susan E. Hylen

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190243821

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190243821.001.0001

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The Reception of Thecla in the Early Church

The Reception of Thecla in the Early Church

(p.91) 5 The Reception of Thecla in the Early Church
A Modest Apostle

Susan E. Hylen

Oxford University Press

Scholars have argued that the later church “domesticated” Thecla, muting her power as it shut down leadership options for women. Instead, this chapter argues that Thecla remains powerful in the later traditions, although some writers also convey her modesty. The chapter surveys portraits of Thecla in literature and art, with special attention to four, those of Tertullian, Methodius, Ambrose, and Pseudo-Basil. Thecla serves a variety of purposes, but she remains a powerful figure and an exemplar of active discipleship. These ancient interpreters see no contradiction between Thecla’s story and 1 Timothy, but instead present Thecla as a disciple of Paul. Thecla’s popularity is not limited to unmarried believers. Her devotees include men and women, and married and unmarried people.

Keywords:   Thecla, Tertullian, Ambrose, Methodius, Pseudo-Basil

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