Holy Mothers of Orthodoxy


Eva Catafygiotu Topping


Holy Mothers of Orthodoxy (1987 hard copy edition) consists of thirty-two articles that were either presented as lectures or publishes in scholarly journals and newspapers. While each essay may be read independently of the others, there is a common theme that binds them together; that theme is the exclusion of women from full participation in the life and ministries of the Orthodox Church.

What, the author asks, can tradition say about the place of women in Orthodoxy? Topping takes a comprehensive look at church history, the Bible, and hymnographic literature with scholarly acumen and concludes that it is time to reaffirm the worth of women within Orthodoxy and to reaffirm the spiritual worth oneness and equality within the living church as taught by Christ… That this equality and oneness are absent in today's Orthodox church is manifested in the numerous constraints imposed upon women on the basis of gender…

The author presents us with a tradition that is rich and edifying to the spirit; such are the positive images of women in Orthodoxy, images that have been muted in the contemporary Orthodox church… Topping acknowledges that despite the precedence of egalitarianism of the early church, reestablishing egalitarianism will not be easy. She is convinced, however, that it is time to be explicit in affirming the full worth of women within Orthodoxy and reaffirm the spiritual oneness and equality of Christ's church…

(in Modern Greek Studies Yearbook, volume 5, 1989)
—(the late) Alice Scourby, PhD

Professor Emeritus of Sociology of Long Island University
Board Member and faculty at the Center for Byzantine
and Modern Greek Studies
Founder and first president of former G.A.W.N.
(Greek American Women's Network)

Eva Topping is a clear, authoritative, passionate, and engaging voice. She makes enormous sense, in part because of her unassailable scholarship: not the least because her thesis rests firmly on scriptural grounds.

—(the late) Rev. Dr. Leonidas Contos
Dean of St. Sophia Cathedral in Los Angeles
preceding presidency of Hellenic College and Holy Cross Theological School in 1966
First holder of The Alexander G. Spanos Chair in Eastern Orthodox Studies
Former President of PAOI (Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute)

Holy Mothers of Orthodoxy (1987 hard copy edition) is a collection of thirty-two essays, talks, and short studies on the history and status of women in the Orthodox Church. Though it was published over ten years ago, the issues are still just as important and relevant for us today. The articles vary in length, content, and style. Some are historical accounts of women saints; others come out of the author's in-depth study of Byzantine hymnography. Still others are personal testimonies that reflect some of her frustrations with what she sees as a gap between the life-giving theology of the Church and some of its practices, especially regarding the status of women. All of the essays are thought-provoking and engaging. (in St. Nina Quarterly, Volume 3, No. 2)

Teva Regule
National President of AROY (American Romanian Orthodox Youth)
National Conference Chair and editor of the AROY newsletter
Computer Networks Manager in the Laboratory
for Nuclear Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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