Original Research

Tertullian’s moral theology on women and the accusation of misogyny

Clifford Owusu-Gyamfi, Daniel Dei
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 43, No 1 | a2384 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v43i1.2384 | © 2022 Clifford Owusu-Gyamfi, Daniel Dei | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 September 2021 | Published: 22 April 2022

About the author(s)

Clifford Owusu-Gyamfi, Department of Theological Studies, Valley View University, Accra, Ghana
Daniel Dei, Department of Theological Studies, Valley View University, Accra, Ghana


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Abstract

Some modern scholars have linked the second century church father, Tertullian, to misogynism. This article wades into the debate over whether Tertullian should be considered a misogynist. Through the combined approaches of historical enquiry and interpretative theory, this article probes the validity of such connections. This article also argues that a consideration of Tertullian’s infamous De cultu feminarum and prevailing views of gender in the second and third centuries CE establish that he was not a misogynist per se. Rather, the offending comments should be understood as part of his broader moral and theological worldview of his time to call the Christian women to genuine Christian virtues, sobriety, sincerity, and continence.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article provides a reinterpretation of Tertullian’s attitude towards women for modern readers. While modern thinkers become shocked of some of his remarks about women, we have shown that a proper understanding of Tertullian’s moral theology will change the perception of modern readers, especially on the accusation of misogyny.


Keywords

Tertullian; misogyny; Montanism; virtue; female gender; male gender; De cultu feminarum

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