Part of a wealthy aristocratic family in Turkey, Macrina (330-379) was a famous theologian in the fourth century. She was a natural leader and an intellectual genius who eventually took over management of her family, encouraging all to embody Christlikeness. Dedicated to following the life of Christ, Macrina also influenced her wealthy family to offer their emergency resources to the poor, a completely counter-cultural move. Likewise, she also took Colossians 4:1 seriously that instructs “slave owners to show justice and equality to your slaves.” Demonstrating the early church’s understanding of this passage’s radical intent that slave owners set their slaves free, she emancipated her slaves and encouraged her servants to view her as their equal.1
She devoted herself to reading and studying and is thought to have had one of the most extensive educations of her time.² In this spirit she established her own community dedicated to Christian study. Through her deep faith, her brother, Basil, converted to Christianity and remained under her mentorship for four years. Both he and their brother Gregory of Nyssa became key church leaders and developed the doctrine of the Trinity. Basil credited much of his theological learning to Macrina. Though the church rightfully honors both brothers, they have largely forgotten Macrina, their teacher, mentor, and sister.
To learn more about the Colossians 4:1 translation and Paul’s countercultural intent, listen to Mutuality Matters Podcast of Women and Words: Why Bible Translation Matters with Jeff Miller
To learn more, see: “Single But Never Alone,” by Mimi Haddad in Mutuality.
- Mimi Haddad, Why Bible Translation Matters with Jeff Miller, May 4, 2023 in Mutuality Matters: Women and Words, podcast, 34 minutes.
- Leanne M. Dzubinski and Anneke H. Stasson, Women in the Mission of the Church: Their Opportunities and Obstacles through Christian History (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2021), 66.