Origins of Namelessness in Women
Now while Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment, and she poured it on his head as he sat at the table. But when the disciples saw it they were angry and said, "Why this waste? For this ointment could have been sold for a large sum, and the money given to the poor." But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, "Why do you trouble the woman? She has performed a good service for me. For you always will have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. By pouring this ointment on my body she has prepared me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her."
Matthew 26: 6-13

The above incident has been described as a deed of utmost importance, for it involved a purer form of worship, a demonstration of a faith that was lacking in the disciples and is an action that is mentioned in several books in the New Testament. However, this woman does not have a name, and when I asked what her name was and why her name was not given, no-one could give me an answer. By not having her name mentioned, she was made into a non-person. The Bible is an important foundation in the development of our western culture and I wanted to address the historical issue of the non-treatment of women, not just here in the Jewish tradition but in some other of our founding cultures (Greek and Roman). I wanted to explore barriers in the Islamic culture that treat women as non-persons who are denied access to learning and are not allowed the basic freedoms that men enjoy.

I wanted to know when this attitude started and why did it happen?

In order to do so I delved into classical and pre-classical history to find the origins of the patriarchical domination of women evident in our society.

The above questions started as a matter of curiosity and little did I realize that I was poised to embark on a journey of discovery, a journey that would involve feelings of frustration at my inability to find pertinent material, initial disbelief of the evidence that was presented to me, a sense of betrayal from all that I was brought up to believe and sadness that something so wonderful was so completely and fully destroyed. The journey has left me with a greater understanding of myself and an optimism that there will come to pass a future where women will again take their rightful place in our society.

Accompany me through the following pages and join with me in the discovery of the final incredible answer upon the completion of this journey.

The Journey
Women of Ancient Greece
Women of Rome
Women of the Early Christian Era
The Story of the Goddess
Journey's End
Works Consulted
This project was created by Betsy Hamid for the LIS 589 (Feminism and Library and Information Studies) course offered by the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alberta. This website was last updated July 18, 2003