Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Early Christian Female Philosopher

One of the advances of the Christian faith is that women took a greater role in private and public life than they had in the Roman and African world around them.  It is a simple matter of history that Christians educated and learned from women at a time when it was ridiculous to think it possible.  I ran across one small example in an ecclesiastical history written by a man named Socrates.  This history covers the period of time from 305ad to 438ad.

There was a woman at Alexandria named Hypatia, daughter of the philosopher Theon, who made such attainments in literature and science, as to far surpass all the philosophers of her own time. Having succeeded to the school of Plato and Plotinus, she explained the principles of philosophy to her auditors, many of whom came from a distance to receive her instructions. On account of the self-possession and ease of manner, which she had acquired in consequence of the cultivation of her mind, she not unfrequently appeared in public in presence of the magistrates. Neither did she feel abashed in coming to an assembly of men. For all men on account of her extraordinary dignity and virtue admired her the more.

She fell victim to false political slander and was murdered.  Socrates adds, "And surely nothing can be farther from the spirit of Christianity than the allowance of massacres, fights, and transactions of that sort. This happened in the month of March during Lent, in the fourth year of Cyril’s episcopate, under the tenth consulate of Honorius, and the sixth of Theodosius."


Tyndale said...

Thanks for this post, Phil. Valuable to us. We just posted it to our FB group at Tyndale Philosophy.

Phil Steiger said...

Thanks! Hope it is useful.