Martha from the Margins

The Authority of Martha in Early Christian Tradition


In the popular imagination Martha has become synonymous with the harried housewife, fretting over excessive preparations. The Martha known to early Christians is far removed from this stereotype. Martha was better known for her role in the story of the raising of Lazarus and as apostle and witness of the resurrection. This book gathers and assesses the early traditions about Martha in text, liturgy and iconography. It shows that the significance of Martha has been seriously underestimated and recovers an important and widespread tradition of Martha as apostle and authority figure for early Christians. The analysis of Martha traditions with attention to issues of gender and authority render this book an important contribution to studies on women in early Christianity.


EUR €161.00USD $200.00

Biographical Note

Allie Ernst, Ph.D. (2007) in Studies in Religion, the University of Queensland, Brisbane, currently teaches at the Institute of Faith Education in Brisbane. She has previously published work on Martha traditions in early Christianity.

Review Quotes

" Martha from the Margins is a very illuminating text, and Ernst should be commended for making an excellent contribution to the study of women in religion and to early Christianity in general. She presents strong arguments that are based on a thoughtful analysis of the many sources that she surveyed. Although there are several instances in which Ernst is clearly presenting theoretical ideas [...] these hypotheses are all grounded, as much as possible, in rational arguments. Ernst presents an unbiased survey of the evidence discussed in this book. Such an approach is admirable and appreciated, since it provides the reader with a more balanced perspective of the issues. Furthermore, Ernst’s methodology,which featured a dynamic reading of church orders and a balanced weighing of literary/historical texts with other types of sources [...], allow her to present a more expansive perspective of Martha within early Christianity. Hopefully, this approach will be used by others in the future." – Joseph Oryshak, in: RBL 03/2011

Table of contents

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations

1. Retrieving Martha from the Margins

2. A Second Peter? Martha in the Gospel of John

3. A different tomb, a different story: The Epistula Apostolorum

4. Apostola Apostolorum: Hippolytus on the Song of Songs

5. Singing a new song: Martha in liturgy and hymnody

6. Picturing the myrrhophore

7. Martha, diakonia and the Gospel of Luke

8. A Eucharistic ministry for Martha: The Apostolic Church Order and the Acts of Philip

9. Martha as authority figure for early Christian groups

10. Gathering the strands



All those interested in New Testament scholarship, feminist studies, and early Christianity/Church history, Academic libraries, those with an interest in women in early Christianity, in liturgy and iconography.


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