The question posed in the title deliberately reverses one that has accompanied me through my academic career: what did the early church do for women? The reversal signals what will prove to be an underlying theme of what follows, namely the role of women in history as objects or as the subjects of action and of discourse. Yet already the question as conventionally phrased highlights different points of stress that reflect where it belongs within reflective historiography, the subject of this volume. Firstly, ‘What did the early church do?’ The coming of early Christianity, it is implied, brought blessings or perhaps curses, evoking a way of writing church history which goes back to Eusebius and which continues both through Edward Gibbon and through those who still portray the social and religious context of the time as one of the inarticulate search for alternative conceptions of the divine or for alternative social values that Christianity would answer. Secondly, ‘for women’: thus, a deliberate rejection of any universalizing interpretation of such effects; a recognition, or at least a suspicion, that any apparently universalizing claim is actually spoken from a ‘normal’ that is already gendered as male; an invitation to ask how women’s experience could be recovered, what the sources would look like, and, indeed, whether it can be recovered from the extant sources.