Sample Research Paper On Paula The Elder: A Woman In The Early Church
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As a woman in the early Christianity in 345 AD, Paula played a very significant role in Christianity. Paula contributed many significant things in Christianity in terms of faith to God, education of children and women and services to the needy. Paula’s exceptional devotion to the church and to the people became the center of the early Christianity. Many epistles written by scholars like Jerome served as the sole witness to testify the work of Paula. The epistles of Jerome illuminated the reality, vitalize people’s memory, and provide proper guidance in the Christianity life. The life of Paula highlighted different forms of testimonies and keeping the faith despite many challenges. The testimonies can prove the value of a woman in the early Christianity bounded with challenges and struggles. Paula never abandoned her colleagues, women, children, and the community despite many obstacles. The devotion of Paula to spend her life with God and to use her wealth for the poor made her a superior woman among other Roman widows in Rome. In the religious perspective, the rigorous pattern of her life has emphasized the virtue of poverty. Paula herself gave everything, her wealth and helped the needy, built several institutional churches, developed her interest in education, and indulged in many literary works with her colleagues. In addition, Paula had the ability to subdue men’s strong characteristics being irritable and impatient in some things like scholar Jerome. Paula, the elder had the patience and courage to do the real duty of a woman with strength. In the path of women’s liberation in the early church, it demonstrated the strict religious discipline among women. The religious discipline is the abstinence with the worldly pleasures known as asceticism. This religious practice is one of the strong bases that women can serve the people in the religious world to remain faithful with their goals of spirituality. “In the early Christianity, women only have limited significant roles in the church leadership. However, Paula stands out among the women of her time with her unique leadership in the church, especially with her monastic life accomplishments.”
Brief Background of the Early Christianity
The early Christianity represents faith and different religious practices in the present Christianity. In addition, the early Christianity reminds the most powerful men leaders in the church like Jerome. The believers were curious to invite the most intense search of their lives as Christians through visiting places in some part of the world. The practices of the early Christian people focused on worship, discipline, selection, leadership, and financial giving. The early Christianity served as a recovery movement in response to the chaos, misery, brutality, and fear of the life of the people, especially women and children. The early Christians were not democratic; however, they have substantial roles for women and they did not allow women to fulfill the church leadership.
Women in the Early Christianity
In the early Christianity, the huge role of women in the early church remained integral to the work of the church. Some of the contributions of women were kept as secrets but others were not. For example, Paula was among the women in her time who contributed many things to the church. Her contributions were valued because her way of changing the perspective of other people about women has demonstrated the strength of her leadership. Women in the early Christianity played a vital role in spreading Christianity in different lands of the world through friendship and family networks. The participation of women in the early Christianity has influenced the movement of the church. In addition, the holding position of women’s leadership influenced the religious activities. The life of Paula belonged to the church and she has contributed many things important to the growth and spread of Christianity throughout Rome and other places.
Life of Paula
The life of Paula was known from the epistles of Jerome to her and about her. Jerome’s epistles testified Paula’s strong faith in the church, commitment to education, and her dedication to scholarship and services to the women and children.
A Child, a Daughter
In AD 347, Paula was born with a life full of luxury; her parents were highborn Greeks status in the family line of such notable figures as King Agamemnon of Troy, Rogatus and Blesilla. Paula’s father was a senator in Rome, and she grew up as Rome’s senatorial class. As she grew up as a young woman, she dressed in fine silk with lovely ornaments and she was carried by her slaves as she moved around Rome. Before becoming a Christian, Paula embraced the charmed of life even her parents were already Christians. Her friend Marcella played a very important role in her conversion to Christianity.
A Woman, a Wife
At the age of sixteen, Paula married to Toxotius, a pagan. The religious toleration was one of the themes in Rome during her time, and marrying to a man was a normal arrangement. They lived in luxury and people of their class were known for their great wealth. As a married woman, Paula spent her hours with worldly things and social gatherings called competitive salon culture.
A Mother, a Widow
Paula had five beautiful five children with her husband Toxotius; they were Blesilla, Paulina, Euastochim, Rufina, and a youngest son, Toxotius. She loved her children more than her life and spent her time with them as possible. In AD 378, Paula became a widow at the age of thirty-two, and she was left with all the wealth of her husband, Toxotius. Paula joined the growing number of women in Rome to dedicate her life to good works and trusting God. Paula lived an ascetic life, spent her wealth on charity, and helped the women and children. Education and scholarship were part of her devotions, and Paula was educated in Greek and Latin.
A Friend, a Follower
Paula was a disciple of Marcella, a wealthy widow and much older than herself. Marcella was one of the Roman women who have consecrated herself to God and left the extravagant lifestyles common among the upper class of Rome. Paula worked with Marcella and she met Jerome closely and inspired much in literary. Jerome was the greatest theologian and attracted to the ascetic lifestyle.Most of the letters from Jerome to Paula have significant expositions of the scholarly positions written on the bible. Some of the books written by Jerome emphasized Paula’s role in his work that Paula’s life is an example of virtue. Paula faithfully followed Marcella and Jerome to the East with Eustochim, her daughter.
In 386, Paula together with Jerome and Eustochim, they followed Jerome in the holy place in Bethlehem. She left her palace to dwell in the mud and left her remaining child in the hands of her guardians. Paula has established houses for women spending her wealth for stability. Paula has touched the lives of her colleagues through constant association in their works that brought familiarity and confidence. However, her decision to leave her family to live among the hermits of the East was part of her spirituals goals. Paula’s enthusiastic travels in the holy land and building monasteries for the religious people were her happiness. Her heart for the poor women and children was extraordinary, where she gave everything. She was strong enough to resist from drinking wine and pledged not be tricked by the enemies of God.
Early in 404 at the age of 56, Paula died peacefully. Paula has joined her family after her death, and she was praised as a woman of blood and virtue by scholar Jerome. Paula has virtually lived a saint’s life, holy, and venerable. Her life was full of allusions and comments about her life on earth. She was a loving mother and a wife to her husband.
Accomplishments behind Challenges and its Significance in Christianity
Paula, the elder is a significant figure in Christianity. Her accomplishments cannot be compared to any women of today. Paula was a widow in Rome who despised her wealth and deserted her children and she devoted her life to God as a standard of her faith and religion. If she only chose to stay in Rome to frequently take a bath, wear her favorite perfumes, and take advantage of the wealth and position as a widow, she would have been adored as a woman of high rank by the upper class. However, her decision was fixed that is to serve other women and children in another part of the world using her wealth.
When Paula left Rome, she was a broken hearted as a mother. Leaving her children under the care of her faithful guardian was one of the difficult decisions of her life. She knew in her heart that she would never see her children again and sadly, she never did. When she left, her daughter Paulina was engaged to Pammachius, a senator. Her daughter Blesilla had already died the moment she left, however, her daughter Rufina was not yet married. She took Eustochium with to sail for the holy land, Bethlehem. Paula with Eustochium onboard the ship, and were about to sail, her gripping children Paulina, Rufina, and her youngest son Toxotius watched their mother living and they cried. Paulina even begged Paula to stay until her marriage, and Toxotius cried and persuaded her mother to stay. Paula needed to accomplish her good intentions for the needy, and she was very confident that her children would live a good life. However, things did not turn the way she thought. A year later, in AD 386, Rufina died, and in AD 395 Paulina died giving birth her first child. Except for Toxotius, he married Laeta, a Christian who led him to Christ. In addition, Toxotius named her daughter after her mother’s, Paula the younger. Paula the younger was sent to live with Eustochium in Bethlehem and she remained a truthful companion of her aunt and Jerome, and until Jerome’s death in AD 420.
Paula the elder with Eustochium traveled Israel for one year and visited Egypt to learn from the hermits of the desert. They settled in Bethlehem and served as their home for twenty years before Paula’s death. They have visited many places to extend help to the needy women and children; in the Island of Pontia, Rhodes, Metone in Greece, Lyca, and Cyprus. In addition, they went to Antioch, Seleucia, Gaza, Jericho, Hebron, Shiloh, bethel, Nazareth, Neapolis, and Capernum. Then, they went to Socoth, Nitria, and Alexandria before they returned to Bethlehem. Paula with Eustochim’s pilgrimage made through the land of Jesus with the magnitude made by the Christian women like them. The Paula’s experienced moved her deeply visiting the land of Jesus. She even kissed the stone where Jesus tomb was located and licked the place where the body of Jesus was laid.
Bethlehem was a humble city and the most cherished by Christians; a place of peace and comfort. Paula spent the rest of her life helping the women, children, and the people using her wealth for acts of true charity. Her main concern is to preserve the sole attachment to God to achieve the practice they have for years, ascetic lifestyle. Her life in Bethlehem was different from her life in Rome; however, she was happy to serve the people and the Lord. Literally, Paula lived an extremely simple life in Bethlehem. According to Jerome, in his epistle, Paula never took a bath unless extremely sick and never took oil with her meal unless feast days, and slept on hard ground with a goat-haired mat. Paula made penance for her former way of life in Rome by self-deprivation of comforts. She believed that by denying herself with all the comforts and pleasures she could please the Lord please Him faithfully.
In Bethlehem, Paula built monastery, established hospice for travelers, and she took most her time in the convents to finance, establish, and supervise and the convent is divided into three cloisters to the rank of women; from virgins to noble birth and to the most common woman. All these women were expected to strictly follow a disciplined way of their lives. In addition, women are not allowed to obtained personal possessions except clothing with a plain outfit uniformly. To all women, Paula has a discerning eye under her care and she would reprimand them if they were very attentive on how they looked with their clothes. For her, a clean body and clean dress mean an unclean soul. Paula was a very intelligent woman, a genius. She helped Jerome in his translations and purchased books for his work, especially the Vulgate. However, Paula did not witness the completion of Vulgate because she died a year before it was completed. Jerome was forever grateful to Paula and Eustochium and considered them as his spiritual daughters.
Paula devoted and lived herself to God in many incredible ways of her lifetime. The importance of her existence influences the lives of all Christians all over the world. It is worthy to know those significant things. Paula leads every Christian to remember the word of God, to study the Scriptures and to educate in biblical languages and doctrines. However, it does not necessarily mean a person would apply the Scripture properly. On the other hand, Paula was only eager to learn all she could about the word of God and to obtain the knowledge of the Scripture. All the accomplishments of Paula are examples for the believers of the present and future generations.
The life of Paula as a woman of the early Christianity was not a testimony of a woman who was a victim of harsh male influences. Paula and the other faithful women of God adopted the ascetic lifestyle to find favor with her Lord. Her choices in life were a sincere way to follow the Lord. The contributions of Paula in the Christianity vary from the different perspective of today’s generation. The life of Paula encourages every Christian to learn from the mistakes and challenge by triumphs and failures in life. It is clear to say that Paula can encourage and challenge many women and even men of today’s Christianity. Believers all over the world may be challenged by the devotion of Paula to the Scripture and they may be encouraged to examine their lives thoroughly as Christians.
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Scholer, David M. Women in Early Christianity. Illustrated. London, United Kingdom: Taylor &
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