Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Women as leaders in Gospel Women by Bauckham

In answer to a recent email, I want to comment on the role of women in Gospel Women. First, Richard Bauckham notes that in the gospels the men who follow Jesus have abandoned everything, their homes and families, parents, wives and children along with their means of support. (pages 114-115)
    The women, on the other hand, were either independent people, without husbands or dependent relatives, or, if they left families, probably left male family members well able to support the family economically.
Bauckham believes it is clear that it is the women who have disposable financial resources. He goes on to present the different ways that Jewish women of that century owned disposable property or had income. These wealthy or aristocratic women acted as providers and patrons for Jesus and the male disciples.

There have been, throughout history, many wealthy women who have supported and protected male leaders. These leaders would not have been able to support themselves otherwise. Some of the great women patrons and protectors throughout history have been Margaret of Valois, Anne Boleyn, Countess Huntingdon, and of course, Queen Elizabeth I, about whom we read,
    In a letter to William Cecil in 1559, John Calvin (1509-64) reasoned that female rule was acceptable in countries where it had been established by law or custom and, furthermore, asserted that in exceptional circumstances God deliberately chose to channel His authority through women rulers, witness the Judge Deborah and prophetess Huldah in the Hebrew Bible. Susan Dorian
Women in the New Testament who had the authority to extend aid to Jesus or his followers include Joanna, Salome, Mary the wife of Clopas, Susanna, Phoebe, Lydia, Chloe and Nympha.

Returning to Bauckham's book on named women of the gospels, the author does make at least one statement which puts him squarely in support of leadership roles for women. He remarks that there are nine women and twenty-four men named in the gospels and,
    ...the names individuals Paul greets among the Christians of Rome in Romans 16:3-15 comprise nine women and sixteen men. These figures may give us some rough idea of the relative numbers of men and women in the leadership of the early Christian communities. page xxi
I have the impression that Bauckham supports women in a variety of leadership roles in the church and society.

Women have been protectors and providers for men since Rahab tucked the spies under the thatch. God asks us all to step outside the conventional gender roles that society assigns us in order to serve him.

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