Widows in the New Testament Period
The notion that widows needed someone to take care of them rests on ideas about the legal and social status of women. Perhaps most important is the idea that widows could not possess their own property. A wife was dependent on her husband, and when he died, she went to live with her father’s household if he was alive, or to an adult son if she had one. Having a father or son was fortunate, because otherwise widows were entirely without resources. Widows were also legally subordinate to these male relatives. The above picture is largely false for the Mediterranean world of the first and second centuries.
See Also: Women in the New Testament World (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018).
By Susan E. Hylen
Professor of New Testament
Candler School of Theology
Emory University, Georgia
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