Judith Lieu unpacks one of the early accusations thrown at the church.
People have sometimes argued that women were attracted to early Christianity more particularly, perhaps, than men. We have no census figures, we have no church membership rolls – we have no way of testing that. And some of our evidence of that is actually by opponents of early Christianity.
Now, the normal convention in the ancient world was that women are liable to be hysterical, women are liable to be moved by their emotions and passions; whereas men are a little bit more rational, as every good person should be. So the charge that early Christianity attracted women is a way of trying to undermine it. Whether it is also based on fact is, therefore, a little bit more elusive.
They would have had family religious duties which they perhaps would have had to maintain anyway. They may have had more room for manoeuvre than men, for whom their role in the family was part of their role in society.