|previous article in this issue||next article in this issue|
Document Details :
Title: The Biblical Scholarship of a Fourth-Century Woman
Subtitle: Marcella of Rome
Author(s): GRAVES, Michael
Journal: Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses
Volume: 87 Issue: 4 Date: 2011
Marcella of Rome, a leader among ascetic women in the late fourth century, showed intense interest in biblical scholarship and Hebrew. Marcella was drawn to passages and interpretations of Scripture that promoted moral and religious severity, and she exhibited a deep fascination with the language of Scripture. It is suggested that the same rigorous piety that motivated Marcella’s devotion to asceticism also inspired her interest in biblical philology. The virtues of the grammaticus in late antiquity included diligence and modesty, and Marcella may have seen herself as a Christian grammatica engaged in the hard labor of scriptural study. Marcella emerges in Jerome’s letters as assertive and involved in public life, which are qualities that Jerome elsewhere denounces in women; this suggests that the Marcella presented by Jerome reflects her genuine personality, and not just a construct of Jerome. Still, Jerome published his letters to Marcella in spite of these 'active' qualities, because he approved of her asceticism, zeal for the study of Scripture, and opposition to Origenism.