Thursday, October 1, 2009
Witherington's Women in the Ministry of Jesus
I planned on keeping up better with this blog, but since school started, I've been so busy I haven't done it, so I figured I would go ahead and write something.
I just finished reading Ben Witherington's Women in the Ministry of Jesus, which was orginally his PhD dissertation at the University of Durham.
While Witherington has some questionable methodology at times (e.g., applying rabbinic sources to NT context), he does an excellent job of surveying the Gospels as well as the social context of Jesus' ministry and the early Christian communities from which the Gospels were written. Witherington argues that Jesus, as well as Paul and others, did not completely reject, but instead qualified the patriarchy of their setting and critiqued the (moral or ethical) double standard placed upon men and women, and concludes by pointing out "the new equality of male and female disciples beneath the cross of Christ." He does so by looking at the teaching of Jesus, as well as narratives in which Jesus teaches, heals, or ministers to/with women in the four canonical Gospels. I would recommend this book to those interested in gender issues in the New Testament, but suggest that it be read alongside some works that critique his approach in order to qualify or balance out some problems.