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The Hidden History of Women's OrdinationFemale Clergy in the Medieval West$
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Gary Macy

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195189704

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195189704.001.0001

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An Essay on Context

(p.111) 5 Conclusion
The Hidden History of Women's Ordination

Gary Macy (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The concluding chapter speculates on some of the reasons why the definition of ordination changed in the 11th and 12th centuries, and, more importantly, why women were no longer considered either ordained or able to be ordained. Four factors contributed to the change. The Gregorian Reform Movement with its insistence on celibacy introduced a new and more virulent form of misogyny into Western Christianity. Roman law was read selectively to enforce the idea that women were incapable of leadership roles in the church. The biology and politics of Aristotle, newly introduced in the West, asserted that women were biologically and intellectually inferior to men. Theologians read scripture as supporting the assumptions of Roman law and Aristotle concerning the inferiority women and Eve in particular become the scapegoat for the Fall. No one cause seemed determinative in relegating women to an inferior status, but rather a concatenation of several mutually reinforcing factors.

Keywords:   Aristotle, canon law, Gregorian Reform, misogyny, Roman law, theology, woman

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