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Topic 23: The Gospels and Women


The inspired authors of the Gospel demonstrate in unique ways the parity of females and males in Jesus’ mind and that Jesus in his ministry touched and empowered women as fully as men.  Note how St. Luke pairs accounts of Jesus’ interaction with and ministry to males and females:

(A) An angel speaks to Zechariah (1:5-20) and to Mary (1:26-38).

(B) Mary sings a song (1:46-55) and so does Zechariah (1:68-79).

(C) Simeon and Anna both receive Jesus in the temple (2:25-38).  When Messiah comes, all, regardless of gender, are set free to proclaim Jesus in the Temple — the center and heart of Jewish worship — and in the city.

(D) The woman of Zarephath and Naaman the leper are set forth as examples of faith (4:24-27).

(E) The parable of the mending of the garment (from the life experience of women) is balanced with the parable of making wine (from the experience of men) (5:36-39).

(F) The raising of the dead: one young man (7:11-17) and one young woman (8:49-56).

(G) Two texts demonstrate Jesus’ concern for sinners in the face of the harsh rejection of the self-righteous.  The first is the account of the women in the house of Simon (7:36-50).  The second is the parable of the publican and the Pharisee (18:9-14).  In one case the rejected person is a woman and in the other case it is a man.

(H) The band of disciples includes men and women (8:1-3).  They all have names.

(I) Two people are told, “Your faith has saved you.”  These are the woman with the flow of blood (8:43-48) and the blind man (18:35-42).

(J) The gospel records two clear cases where Jesus becomes defiled with midras (contact) uncleanness: he allows the woman with the issue of blood to touch him (8:43-48) and he enters the house and spends the night with a tax collector (19:1-10).

(K) Martha (10:41-42) and the ruler (18:22) each lack one thing.

(L) Two parables on assurance of answer to prayer (the friend at midnight [11:5-8] and the unjust judge and the widow [18:1-8]).  The main character in the first is a man, and in the second a woman takes center stage.

(M) The poem on the men of Ninevah and the queen of the South (11:29-32).

(N) A concern for justice for men servants and women servants (12:45-46) in the interpretation of the parable of the master who comes home from the marriage feast.

(O) Divisions in one house include divisions between men and divisions between women (12:51-53).

(P) Two healings on the Sabbath occur in the center of the travel narrative.  One is of a woman (13:10-16) and the other of a man (14:1-6).  The example of the ox and the ass occurs in each.

(Q) The “daughter of Abraham” (13:16) and the “son of Abraham” (19:9).

(R) Two brief parables appear in 13:18-21.  One is from the life experience of men (the planting of a mustard seed) and the other from the world of women (the leaven in the meal).

(S) Disciples of Jesus must demonstrate loyalty to him above loyalty to male and female members of the family (14:26-27).

(T) The double parables of the lost sheep (15:4-7 – a man searches) and the lost coin (15:8-10 – a woman searches).

(U) The day of the Son of Man: two men in one bed (17:34) and two women grinding (17:35).

(V) In debate with the Sadducees Jesus affirms equality between men and women in the resurrection (20:27-36).

(W) A poor woman is made the hero of Jesus’ observations of gifts given to the treasury.  The grammar allows the conclusion that the rich mentioned are men and women.  However the Middle Eastern cultural assumption is that they were men (21:1-4).

(X) Strangers who offer aid and support at the cross include Simon of Cyrene (23:26) and the women of Jerusalem (23:27).

(Y) His acquaintances, men and women, who followed him from Galilee, stand at a distance watching the crucifixion.  The women are specifically mentioned (23:49).

(Z) Those present at his burial include Joseph of Arimathea and the women (23:50-56).

(AA) The empty tomb stories and the resurrection appearances are focused on the women and the disciples.  The initial witness is from the women to the men (24:1-49).

(The material above is from Bailey, Finding the Lost: Cultural Keys to Luke 15, pgs. 97-99)