Friday, June 18, 2010

Jesus and the Role of Women pt.1

Will Varner writes about the biblical authors against the background of their contemporary culture, and comes up with some very helpful insights. His article is too long to reprint here, but I will excerpt some of his research in the next few posts.

"Rather than advocating oppressive treatment of women, the biblical authors' attitudes and actions toward women often went against the grain of their contemporary culture and helped to eventually elevate the status of women. Christianity actually helped liberate women rather than enslave them.

The purpose of this article is to examine one particular example of this truly liberating attitude–the teaching and actions of Jesus regarding the women whom He encountered in His ministry.

Women in Ancient Judaism During the Old Testament period, women were exempt from the requirement to attend the annual festivals (Ex. 23:17), but they were permitted to attend if they were able to do so (1 Sam. 1:9, 21-22). The Mosaic Law recognized that women who were also wives and mothers had responsibilities in the home that would make public attendance at religious gatherings difficult.

On the other hand, women were able to serve at the door of the Tabernacle (Ex. 38:8), take a Nazirite vow (Num. 6:2), hear the Word of God (Neh. 8:2-3), engage in music ministry (Ex. 15:20-21; 1 Chr. 25:5), and sometimes even prophesy (Ex. 1520; Jud. 4:6-7). It is clear, however, that the office of priest was limited to male members of the priestly line (Ex. 28:1; Num. 18:1-7). Apart from this restriction, there was far more freedom for women than has often been taught.


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