1,600-year-old church mosaic puzzles out key role of women in early Christianity
A newly uncovered mosaic in the western Galilee speaks to the relatively high status of women in the early Church. Dating to the 5th century, a Greek-language inscription memorializes one “Sausann” (or Shoshana) as a donor for the construction of a village church. It is one of seven inscriptions — including a massive five-meter long text — which were found in three Byzantine churches during this summer’s excavations by Kinneret College archaeologist Mordechai Aviam and historian Jacob Ashkenazi.
Unusual in a patriarchal society, the donor Sausann is credited in the inscription independently of any spouse or male guardian. This Sausann is thought to have been a woman of some standing, perhaps following in the footsteps of her presumed namesake, the female disciple Susannah, who was among the women named in Luke 8:3 who provided for Jesus “out of their resources.”