Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2021

Document Type

Honors Project

University Scholars Director

Dr. Christine Chaney

First Advisor/Committee Member

Dr. Alissa Walter

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Dr. Katherine Douglass


comparative religion, women, islam, christianity, gender roles, mary magdalene


Mary Magdalene and Aisha Bint Abi Bakr—women hailing from the early days of Christianity and Islam respectively—are household names among adherents to each of those religions, but most know surprisingly little about who the women were. Both were independent, highly influential women, but their legacies have been corrupted by associations with repentance for deviation from traditional gender roles as well as with sexual immorality. This paper examines the biography of each women and puts it in conversation with her legacy in order to demonstrate a theme of strong women being erased from religious narratives—a theme which we must reverse in order to recover true, God-given gender roles and empower today’s women in both traditions.


A project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the University Scholars Honors Program.

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