Wednesday, March 25, 2009

In Memory of Her

In a recent post, I asked about why we do not know the name of the woman so highly praised by Jesus because of her actions at Bethany (Mark 14:9 - the anointing).

In her important work, In Memory of Her: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins, Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza offers up the following explanation: " . . . the name of the faithful disciple is forgotten because she was a woman."

There is ample evidence to show how the developing church in later New Testament times and into the second century began to down play or denigrate the role of women in ministry? But is there evidence that this tendency was at work in the tradition that Mark inherited or that Mark himself is an example of gender bias at work in primitive Christianity?

Here is contra-evidence to suggest other factors may have been at work that led to the woman's name not appearing in Mark:
- Mark shows no hesitancy in identifying women by name. The important role of witnesses to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is filled by specifically named women.
-Mark fails to identify some male disciples as well as this female disciple.
-Early Palestinian tradition as portrayed in Acts shows:
1. a parallel charismatic ministry for both men and women (Acts 2)
2. a specifically named female disciple (Acts 9:36)
3. prophetic activity by women
- And Paul, who is dependent on Palestinian tradition for many of his new-found Christian concepts, employs named female disciples as co-ministers.

So why was our mystery female disciple not named? I'll leave that discussion for a subsequent post.

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