Feminist Theology 27 (2):164-175 (2019)

The position and power of women in the early church has been much explored by scholars such as Karen Jo Torjesen and Virginia Burrus. Research has often indicated that women had little power, especially sacramental power, at this time. This article challenges such a perspective by examining and comparing three accounts of women’s experience of the Eucharist in the private sphere during the third century. Drawing on Gregory of Nyssa’s account of Macrina, his sister, and her making of the eucharistic bread, Pseudo-Athanasius’ instructions to virgins celebrating their own eucharistic meals, and Gregory Nazianzus’ description of his sister, Gorgonia, anointing herself for healing with the Eucharist, this article demonstrates that, in the private setting, sacramental power was not the preserve of the male. The Eucharist, in far more varied forms than might be anticipated, is potent in the domestic setting of these women of the early Church.
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DOI 10.1177/0966735018814673
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