The Bible and Beyond Podcast Episode
What’s at Stake When Heresy Sells?
Are Mary Magdalene, Thecla, and Perpetua heretics or suppressed leaders?
An Interview with Deb Saxon, PhD
‘Heresy’ sells. Maybe it’s because it’s mysterious, dangerous, or entertaining. But the idea of ancient ‘Christian heresies’ is misleading. The tendency to make ideas ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ confuses the issues. Strong early Christian women, such as Mary Magdalene, Thecla, and Perpetua, posed a threat to the developing male hierarchy, but their words seem to be consistent with the words of the men. Heresy, then, is not a natural category; it is more about who the power brokers were.
Deborah Saxon, Ph.D., teaches at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is the author of The Care of the Self in Early Christian Texts. Deb researches newly discovered Christian texts, women’s voices, the inclusive perspectives they reveal, and the intersection of gender and religion.
Thank you, Deb Saxon & Shirley Paulson for an inspiring interview! I’m so grateful for the Bible scholars like yourselves, sharing insights on Early Christian texts.
What a fascinating talk. Thank you both Deb and Shirley. I want to take the class too! This helped my understand much more how people and concepts came to be thought of as heretical or not. There is just so much to learn in this area that I sometimes feel the more I know the more I need to know to really understand how it all happened. But each encounter has broadened my understanding and made me want to know more. Thank you both for helping to make these texts and the ideas contained in them more accessible.
Thank you both. Clearly helpful in framing a discussion about theological difference. Useful in many ways when speaking with interfaith groups and in examining one’s own religious orientation.
Thank you, Shirley and Deb, for yet another look at Early Christian Texts — this time around the theme of heresies.
Understanding the dominant male father figure in the hierarchy of the Roman Empire certainly helps us better understand the submissive role of women in that culture. And makes the women martyrs who chose to turn flaunt that culture by following Christ, all the more amazing.