Women, Who Are Wise among You? Criteria to Identify and Describe Women as Sages in the New Testament and Early Christianity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The concepts of woman and sage seem to constitute an oxymoron. In classical antiquity women acted as prophetesses, oracles, seers, mediums, rulers etc., but wisdom or being wise was not readily associated with the mortal female. This mainly has to do with the way wisdom is perceived and the location of women in ancient society. There are very few examples of wise women in biblical literature. What is meant by “the wise,” or, to put it another way, who might qualify as a wise woman? There are passing references to the wise in the Old Testament, but little description is given of the wise and their actions or lives. Wisdom is not an exclusively religious function, of course, but religious figures are often referred to as wise. The wise in some form or another appear among all people at all times. Their function might differ from society to society and from culture to culture. But the question is: How are the wise defined? How do they differ from “ordinary” people? Is it intelligence, experience, intuition; training, education; their social role; or meanings and values associated with them; or something else; or a combination of many things? Do the wise belong to a certain group of people or are they individuals? The aim of this study is to identify the characteristics of the wise in biblical literature and to formulate some criteria to identify and describe women as sages in the New Testament and early Christianity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-27
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Early Christian History
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Early Christianity
  • New Testament
  • characteristics of the sage
  • sage
  • wisdom
  • wise
  • women
  • women as sages

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious Studies
  • History


Dive into the research topics of 'Women, Who Are Wise among You? Criteria to Identify and Describe Women as Sages in the New Testament and Early Christianity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this