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Paul's letters also offer some important glimpses into the inner workings of ancient Christian churches.These groups did not own church buildings but met in homes, no doubt due in part to the fact that Christianity was not legal in the Roman world of its day and in part because of the enormous expense to such fledgling societies.As prophets, women's roles would have included not only ecstatic public speech, but preaching, teaching, leading prayer, and perhaps even performing the eucharist meal.

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His letters provide vivid clues about the kind of activities in which women engaged more generally.Paul tells of women who were the leaders of such house churches (Apphia in Philemon 2; Prisca in I Corinthians ).This practice is confirmed by other texts that also mention women who headed churches in their homes, such as Lydia of Thyatira (Acts ) and Nympha of Laodicea (Colossians ).As women historians entered the field in record numbers, they brought with them new questions, developed new methods, and sought for evidence of women's presence in neglected texts and exciting new findings.For example, only a few names of women were widely known: Mary, the mother of Jesus; Mary Magdalene, his disciple and the first witness to the resurrection; Mary and Martha, the sisters who offered him hospitality in Bethany.