Jesus & Women:
Essays and Leader Helps
The following links supplement the spiritual growth study, Jesus and Courageous Women of the Bible.
- Annotated Bibliography: Jesus and Courageous Women
- Jane Bucher, Women Providing for Jesus' Ministry, Response, September 1999
Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna and many others responded to God's love as revealed in Jesus Christ and joined his ministry. They were with Jesus at his crucifixion, at his burial, at the empty tomb
- Virginia Burrus, "Blurring the Boundaries: A Response to Howard C. Kee", Theology Today 49 (1992-3), pp. 239-42.
Like others before him, Kee observes that the New Testament texts offer evidence that women participated actively in the life and leadership of the earliest churches. This state of sexual egalitarianism did not, however, endure.
- Elizabeth Clark and Elaine Pagels, The Roles for Women, From Jesus to Christ
On the status of women in early Christianity, using Mary Magadalene and Thecla of Iconium as major examples.
- Gail Haslam Women of the Bible Emerge from the Background, Book Review, Christian Science Monitor
Women in Scripture edited by Carol Meyers is a remarkable reference book here to stay, an indispensable tool for discovering women we never knew were in the Bible, bringing them out from dark shadows into the light of day.
- Gender Studies and the New Testament, Journal of Hebrew Scriptures
- Howard Clark Kee, "The Changing Role of Women in the Early Christian World", Theology Today 49 (1992-3), pp. 225-38.
In the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century and in the renewal movements that have taken place in both Roman Catholic and Protestant circles in the present century, it has been the fresh appropriation of the insights of Jesus and Paul about the inclusiveness of people across ethnic, racial, ritual, social, economic, and sexual boundaries that has restored the relevance and vitality of Christian faith and has lent to Christianity as a social and intellectual movement a positive, humane force in the wider society. [see above]
- John Traxler, Johannine Themes and Social Justice (Women)
Jesus' disciples marginalized women, a situation unquestioned by Jesus even though by his actions in the gospel he emancipated them. John's gospel suggests a Johannine community outreach to and enfranchising of women, because of their faith beliefs alone, regardless of their Christian home community identity.
- Women and Gender: Articles and Reviews, New Testament Gateway
The Adulterous Woman
The Bleeding Woman and Jairus' Daughter
- Bleeding Woman and Jairus' Daughter: Art
- John R. Donahue, Two Lives Restored (readings on Lent), America, June 17, 2000
These narratives also challenge the church universal to recognize the courageous faith of women and to be on the side of women throughout the world whose human dignity and ability to give and sustain life are threatened by war, disease, abuse and poverty.
The Canaanite/Syrophoenician Woman
- Bible Study: An Energy of Spirit by Emily Dawson, Response, June 2001
Lydia was an atypical woman for her time. As a businessperson, she lived comfortably and provided for those in her household. Lydia discovered the Gospel is for everyone -- women and men, the wealthy and the poor, those in the center and those on the margins.
The Lost Coin (Parable)
- Madeleine Boucher, The Parables
An excerpt from her book on the PBS web site "From Jesus to Christ."
- Guy Brewer, Lost Coins in the Pews
From the perspective of William, a young boy looking for spare change, the more lost coins in the pews, the better. On the other hand, Jesus calls us to be a church where there are no lost coins.
- Kim Hersey, The Lost Coin
The parable of the lost coin is placed in the middle of three parables about someone or something that is lost. Kenneth Bailey compares its literary structure to that of the parable of the lost sheep and concludes it is actually a double parable.
Mary and Martha
- Mary W. Anderson, Hospitality Theology, Christian Century, July 1, 1998
Southern women are great Marthas and proud of it. Having been raised in this culture, I know that supper in a southern kitchen is a wonder to behold.... Gospel hospitality will not allow people to starve physically or spiritually. True welcoming is more interested in the needs of the guest than the preferences of the host.
- Jan Bear, Reconciling Mary and Martha, Again Magazine, September, 1994.
Written by an Antiochene Orthodox woman. The idea, I think, is not to eliminate Martha, but to help her stop being distracted with much serving.
- P. K. McCary, Choosing the Good Part, a story
OK, so I’m taking a few liberties, but it could happen. The story of Mary and Martha is one we should finish, supporting and caring for one another as we work at choosing the good part of our lives.
- Kim A. Hauenstein, Mary and Martha, a sermon
... his actions in this text are not surprising; it is simply important to know that they are quite radical. No one who did not understand Jesus would have expected them. When Martha makes what was by every indication a justifiable protest about the action of her sister, Jesus surprisingly sides with Mary.
- Clara Beth Speel Van de Water, Interpretations of Luke 10:38-42, Festschrift in Honor of Charles Speel, edited by Thomas J. Sienkewicz and James E. Betts. Monmouth, Il: Monmouth College, 1997.
Being productive, positive, and realistic Christians represents good discipleship for women and also for men. Jesus opened the door to discipleship for women, as well as men.
- Discussions of Mary and Martha
Excerpts from The Cloud of Unknowing
- Annotated Bibliography: Mary Magdalene, Jesus and Courageous Women
- Esther A. de Boer, "Mary Magdalene and the Disciple Jesus Loved", Lectior Difficilior 1 (2000)
One of the mysteries of the Gospel of John is the identity of the disciple Jesus loved. This controversial article written in an academic style, suggests Mary Magdalene might have been the beloved disciple and even the author of the Gospel of John. Note: The first paragraph in the box is in German. Scroll down for the English text.
- Kimberly Burge, Revisioning Mary Magdalene: An Opportunity for More Inclusive Expressions in the Church, Sojourners Magazine, March-April 1997
I’ve just recently turned to Mary Magdalene—disciple of Christ, the woman of the scriptures, not the representation promulgated by the church—as a source of inspiration for my own Christian journey.
- The Gospel of Mary, Jesus and Courageous Women
The Gospel of Mary is a noncanonical book of Gnostic origins. Material in brackets are editorial additions and comments.
- The Gnostic View of Mary Magdalene
Mary Magdalene is the subject of much reverence in Gnostic tradition. It is probably inaccurate to say THE Gnostic view, since there are so many different brands of Gnosticism
- Introduction to Gnosticism and the Nag Hammadi Library, Gnostic Society Library
In the first century the term, Gnostic, began to be used to denote a prominent heterodox segment of the diverse new Christian community. The Gospel of Mary is a Gnostic document.
- Victor Greto, Scholars Taking a New Look at Mary Magdalene,
The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Mary Magdalene is becoming a role model for women who expect more important roles for themselves in their respective churches. And scholars use Mary Magdalene as a symbol of the important role of women in early Christianity, as they work out the implications of recently-discovered ancient literature.
- Ramon K. Jusino, Mary Magdalene: Author of the Fourth Gospel?, 1998
It is posited here that, in an earlier tradition of the Fourth Gospel's community, the now "anonymous" Beloved Disciple was known to be Mary Magdalene. It is further posited that Mary Magdalene is the true founder and hero of what has come to be known as the Johannine Community (i.e., Mary Magdalene was one of the original apostolic founders and leaders of the early Christian church).
- Karen L. King, Women in Ancient Christianity: The New Discoveries, From Jesus to Christ
Discoveries of new texts from the dry sands of Egypt, along with sharpened critical insight, have now proven that this portrait of Mary [Magdalene as repentant prostitute or adulteress] is entirely inaccurate. She was indeed an influential figure, but as a prominent disciple and leader of one wing of the early Christian movement that promoted women's leadership.
- Dorothy A. Lee, Turning from Death to Life: a Biblical Reflection on Mary Magdalene (John 20:1-18), Ecumenical Review, April, 1998
Imagery of "turning" is integral to the story of Mary Magdalene in John 20:1-18. In this, the first of the Johannine resurrection narratives, the verb "turn" literally occurs twice (Greek strephein), as Mary turns to face the one she seeks, without at first recognizing him (20:14,16). On a theological level, Magdalene's physical motion represents the turning from grief and sorrow to joy and hope in the discovery of Easter faith.
- Rosemary Radford Ruether, No Church Conspiracy Against Mary Magdalene, National Catholic Reporter, February 9, 2001
Some contemporary Christian women have assumed that the defaming of Mary Magdalene came about as an Orthodox effort to counteract the high role played by Mary Magdalene in the Gnostic communities. But there is no evidence that the Orthodox church leaders knew these gospels. Although several church fathers have some notion that Gnostics claimed Mary Magdalene as a leader, that does not cause them to disregard her. Rather they, too, share a view of Mary Magdalene as a leading disciple.
- Heidi Schlumpf, Who Framed Mary Magdalene?, U.S. Catholic, April 2000
... Word is trickling down that Mary Magdalene's penitent prostitute label was a misnomer. Instead, her true biblical portrait is being resurrected, and this "apostle to the apostles" is finally taking her rightful place in history as a beloved disciple of Jesus and a prominent early church leader.
Saturday, September 4, 1999
- See also: The Sinful Woman
Mary, Mother of Jesus
- Encountering the Bible by Maxine Clarke Beach
A different view of the image of Mary wearing a crown and beautiful robes by some people living Solentiname in Nicaragua
- Our Lady of Guadeloupe: The Tradition
The year was 1531. Juan Diego, a peasant convert, made his way through the hill country of central Mexico on his way to the chapel. As he approached the foot of Tapioca Hill, he encountered a beautiful woman. She was surrounded by light as bright as the sun. She started speaking to him...
- The Virgin Mary Has a Variety of Names by Yadira A. Betances, Eagle-Tribune, May 17, 1998
In Ireland, she is known as Our Lady of Knock. In Portugal, she is Our Lady of Fatima. In Poland, she is Our Lady of Czestochowa...
- The Virgin Mary, Encarta
Historical and theological background and information about some of her shrines.
The Sinful Woman
The sinful woman has been incorrectly identified with Mary Magdalene
- Ephraim of Syria (c. 306-373), On the Sinful Woman
Hear and be comforted, beloved, how merciful is God. To the sinful woman He forgave her offences; yea, He upheld her when she was afflicted.
- Hannah M. Hunt, "The Tears of the Sinful Woman: a Theology of Redemption in the Homilies of St. Ephraim and His Followers", Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies, Vol. 1, No. 2 (July 1998).
Ephraim's Homily on the Sinful Woman, which gives an exegesis of Luke's account of the sinful woman who bathes the feet of Jesus with her penitent tears, is a remarkable piece of poetic theology in its own right.
Widow and the Unjust Judge (Parable)
Woman of Samaria
- Woman of Samaria: Art
- John Murphy, The Woman of Samaria as a Blueprint for the Gospel of John
In many ways, the story of the Samaritan Woman is a turning point in the gospel of John. It marks the end of Jesus' teaching to only a select few, and begins his wider ministry. She is the first person he talks to who knows nothing of him. In fact, after he meets her at the well and first speaks to her, she says to him "How is it that you, a Jew, as a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?" (John 3:9)
Women at the Tomb
- Art and Music Resources
- Choral Reading of Gospels, Marys at the cross and resurrection
- Jesus and Courageous Women (Wisconsin UMW)
Links to art by Wisconsin Annual Conference School of Christian Mission.
- The Moving Word: Liturgical Dance and Biblical Interpretation
A workshop outline, online video and transcript
Disclaimer: Some links jump to outside sites. Links do not constitute an endorsement by the Women's Division of the information on other web sites. External web sites offer us diverse perspectives; afford us an opportunity to compare them to United Methodist positions; and, encourage us to critically analyze the issues raised by the Jesus and Courageous Women web pages.