Transformative Encounters: Jesus and Women Re-Viewed

Transformative Encounters: Jesus and Women Re-Viewed

Transformative Encounters: Jesus and Women Re-Viewed

Transformative Encounters: Jesus and Women Re-Viewed


This composite, post-colonial and multi-dimensional volume contains sixteen original essays by distinguished Jewish and Christian Scripture scholars on a wide range of perspectives on the relation between Jesus and women as portrayed in the New Testament Gospels, as historically re-constructed in the context of Second Temple Judaisms and of Mediterranean society, as well as in present actualizations.

The contributions reflect the different social locations of interpreters from all continents and testify to the richness of methods employed in biblical interpretation at the end of the 20th century, ranging from literary approaches (narrative criticism, reader response criticism, intertextuality), historical-critical methods, archaeology and social-scientific interpretation to cultural studies and film theory.

By addressing new questions and searching for answers on untrodden paths the vital scholarship on Jesus and women will be re-viewed, enriched, and challenged.


“But, ” she said. Resisting the resistance, she re-defined the situation, turning the insult into a promise. “Great, ” he said. Responding to her challenge, he re-viewed his mission, turning its exclusivism into a global vision.

§ § §

“Jesus, ” she exclaimed. Touching his garment, the gardener had turned into him. His garment became glistening, intensely white, as no fuller on earth could bleach it. And her tears became a stream of living water. Turning round, she embarked on her first missionary journey.

Contacts between Jesus and women are transformative encounters, from the first moment when his mother Mary conceived him in her womb, according to the angel's message (Luke 1:26–38), until his last encounter with another Mary in the garden, after his final transformation (John 20:11–18). Jesus' life, as rendered in the Gospels, is marked throughout by his encounters with women, who he meets in the streets and in their houses (e.g. Luke 10:38–42; John 11:1–46; 12:1–8), and who, on the other hand, come to meet him, in the streets (e.g. Mark 5:24–35) and in other people's houses (e.g. Mark 14:3–9 par Matt.; Luke 7:36–50). Whether mentioned in passing or explored in more detail in a longer narrative, all these encounters bring about transformation. Women are healed and restored to their full integrity (e.g. Luke 13:10–17), or to life itself (e.g. Mark 5:21–24, 36–43); women follow him and leave behind their homes (Luke 8:1–3; Mark 15:40–41 parr), or remain in their homes, yet drastically changed (Mark 1:29–31; John 11/12). However, transformation happens also to Jesus, and this becomes most apparent in his encounter with the Syrophoenician/Canaanite woman (Mark 7:24–30; Matt. 15:21–28). Encounter, by its very nature, denotes a mutual process. Consequently, it affects both parties involved, even if Jesus transformed by a woman may not so easily be acceptable to some readers, starting with the author of Luke's Gospel, who decided to do away with this shocking story. To be sure, the potential in the Gospel stories dealing with encounters between Jesus and women is greater . . .

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