Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy


This dissertation will explore two women in The Acts of the Apostles, Tabitha (Acts 9:36-42) and Lydia (Acts 16:11-15) who have been routinely ignored by scholars, or mentioned only in praising the apostle associated with their story. As a result, stereotypical categorization has swept these important characters from their rightful place into relative obscurity. In fact, an examination of their stories set against the expectations of women in Greco-Roman antiquity reveals their unconventional situations. In particular, this dissertation takes special notice of the ways in which representations of the `ideal woman' in the Greco Roman world are at variance with the portraits of Tabitha and Lydia. Both women are portrayed as independent, support themselves financially, and are regarded as benefactresses in their own right. Of course, benefactions from women were commonplace among elite women of the dominant class, but neither Tabitha nor Lydia belong to such select families.

First, the dissertation will focus on the social location of women in both the Greek East and Roman West of the Imperial Period. This is not done with the aim of arguing for a historical Tabitha or Lydia, but simply to explore the types of images and expectations that may have influenced an audience's perceptions of these women. Second, the dissertation will examine the characterization of Tabitha and Lydia within their discrete biblical narratives, but also how placement within the macro-text of Acts has bearing on the interpretation of these pericopae.

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Creative Commons License
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