Skip to main content
Course Language: Portuguese

Why women were silenced in the early church

Start date: 8th June

Participation in the course involves completing two steps:

  • 1) Pay the fee of 30 Euros at the link.
  • 2) Enroll by clicking on the “enroll” button.

Note: Use the same email for both steps of the registration (payment and enrolment).

Enrolment gives you the right to attend the live or recorded classes and receive a certificate from Lusófona University, subject to passing the assessments.

About the Course

The New Testament points to an emerging church with strong female participation. Priscilla, Phoebe, Lydia, Euodia, Syntyche, Tryphena, and Tryphosa are just some of the many names mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles and the Pauline letters. Why, then, were women silenced from the second century onwards? Who were the main advocates of this silencing? Who were the women known and respected in the second century as prophetesses and teachers? Why were their names and stories erased from church history books? In this course, we will recover the memory of women whose theology was seen as a threat to the male authority of the church. Called heretics, prostitutes, and demon-possessed, their writings were destroyed, and their teachings combated. Silenced by force, their history was recorded only by their opponents, but studying them is essential to understanding the historical process of silencing women in the Christian church up to the present day.

Who is it for?

Everyone is welcome to join the course: curious individuals, general scholars and those interested in the history of Christianity, students and professors of religious studies and theology, religious leaders in general, pastors and laypeople involved with the religious/ecclesial field, pastoral agents, educators, and community leaders.

Are there any prerequisites?

There are no prerequisites to take the course, just the desire to learn and openness to dialogue with other participants.

When does it start?

The course starts on 8 June 2024. It lasts for 4 Saturdays, ending on 29 June.

How are the classes conducted?

Classes will be held live on Saturdays at 14h (Brazil) / 18h (Portugal) via the Zoom platform.
Each class will last 1 hour for the lecture, followed by 30 minutes for questions and debates.
Classes will be recorded and made available on the course page for student access.

How is the assessment done?

he assessment is organized into two stages:

  • Completion of exercises for each class (4)
  • Completion of a brief learning report at the end of the module, 1 to 3 pages

The final course grade will be weighted as follows:

Exercises – 40%
Final Report – 60%

The course ends on 29 June 2024.

The final report must be submitted in pdf or doc format by 13 July 2024.


Lesson 1: Female Leadership in the Early Church.
Summary: The role of women as Prophetesses in the early Christian church, controversies over female participation in the church of the first century.

Lesson 2: The New Prophecy – Prisca, Maximilla, and Quintilla.
Summary: The New Prophecy movement in Phrygia, the theology of Prisca, Maximilla, and Quintilla, and their opponents.

Lesson 3: Gnostic Prophecy – Helena, Philomena, Marcellina, and others.
Summary: Prophetesses and Teachers in Rome and Carthage, their theology, and their opponents.

Lesson 4: The Decline of Prophecy and the Silencing of Women.
Summary: The impact of opposition to female prophecy in the second century on the later years of the Early Church.


Lidice Meyer Pinto Ribeiro
Lidice Meyer Pinto Ribeiro holds a Post-Doctorate in Anthropology and History from the University of São Paulo, Brazil, and is a Post-Doctoral Researcher in Globalisation Studies at Universidade Aberta in Portugal. She earned her PhD in Anthropology from the University of São Paulo and holds a Master’s degree in Ethnobotany from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro/National Museum, Brazil. She is a professor in the Master’s programme in Religious Studies at Lusófona University – Lisbon University Centre and Moriah College, a Researcher at the Centre for Lusophone and European Literatures and Cultures (CLEPUL) at the University of Lisbon, and a Researcher at the Chair of Global Studies at Universidade Aberta de Lisboa (CIPSH). She is also a member of the Institute of Contemporary Christianity (ICC), the Portuguese Society for the History of Protestantism (SPHP), an Evaluator for the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), and various international academic journals.

She has worked for over 20 years with the Mackenzie Presbyterian University, São Paulo, Brazil, coordinating the Postgraduate Programmes in Theology, Philosophy, and Pedagogy, and as a professor in the Master’s Programme in Religious Studies, undergraduate Theology, and other courses. She is a commentator and consultant on religious and anthropological matters in social media, TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines. In Brazil, she has participated as an interviewee or consultant in various specials on the Bandeirantes, Record, Globo, SBT, Cultura, and Brasil Television Networks.

In recent years, she has focused on Biblical Anthropology, with a special emphasis on the study of women in the Bible and Christianity, teaching various courses on this topic. She has published books and articles in the fields of Religion, History, Anthropology, and Ethnobotany. She has conducted research in Rome (Vatican Secret Archives, Archivio Storico di Propaganda Fide, and Gregorian University), Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, the United States, and Brazil.



CLARK, Elizabeth A. Women in the Early Church (Volume 13) (Fathers of the Church). Liturgical Press, 1983.
COHICK, Lynn H.; Amy Brown Hughes. Christian Women in the Patristic World: Their Influence, Authority, and Legacy in the Second through Fifth Centuries. Baker Academic, 2017.
COHICK, Lynn H. Women in the World of the Earliest Christians: Illuminating Ancient Ways of Life. Baker Academic, 2009.
KING, Karen L. Images of the Feminine in Gnosticism (Studies in Antiquity and Christianity). Fortress Press, 1990.
JENSEN, Anne. God’s self-confident daughters – early Christianity and the liberation of Women. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996.
KROEGER, Richard Clark; Catherine Clark Kroeger. I Suffer Not a Woman: Rethinking I Timothy 2:11-15 in Light of Ancient Evidence. Baker Book House, 1998.
LITWA, M David. Carpocrates, Marcellina, and Epiphanes: Three Early Christian Teachers of Alexandria and Rome. Routledge Studies in the Early Christian World, 2022.
MACY, Gary; William Ditewig; Phyllis Zagano. Mulheres Diáconos – passado, presente, futuro. Prior Velho: Paulinas, 2019.
OSIEK, Carolyn. A Woman’s Place: House Churches In Earliest Christianity. Fortress Press, 2005.
SILVA, Roberta Alexandrina da. A Participação Feminina no Cristianismo Antigo e a Influência de Paulo no Gnosticismo in SILVA, Roberta Alexandrina da. Mulheres no Cristianismo Primitivo: poderosas e inspiradoras. São Paulo: Fonte Editorial, 2022. p. 331-391.
TORJESEN, Karen J. When Women Were Priests: Women’s Leadership in the Early Church and the Scandal of Their Subordination in the Rise of Christianity. Harper San Francisco, 1995.
VOLO, James M. The Women Who Knew Jesus:: Female Role Models in Early Christianity. 2013
WITHERINGTON III, Ben. Women and the Genesis of Christianity. Cambridge University Press, 1990.
WITHERINGTON III, Ben. Women in the Earliest Churches. Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series, Series Number 59, Cambridge University Press, 1991.