Thursday, January 29, 2009

Marie Dentière: Defense of Women

Let her speak for herself,

Not only would some slanderers and adversaries of the truth want to accuse us of too great audacity and boldness, but also some of the faithful, saying that women are too bold to write to one another about Holy Scripture. To them one can allowably respond that all those who have written and who have been named in Holy Scripture are not judged to be too bold, since some [women] are named and praised in Holy Scripture as much for their good morals, actions, behavior, and examples as for their faith and doctrine. Like Sarah and Rebecca, and principally among all the others of the Old Testament, the mother of Moses who, in spite of the edict of the King, had dared to keep her son from death and have him raised in the house of the Pharaoh, as it is amply declared in Exodus 2. Regarding Deborah, who judged the people of Israel during the time of the Judges, she is not to be disregarded. (Judges 4.)

I ask, would it be necessary to condemn Ruth even though she is of the feminine sex, on account of the history written about her in her book? I do not think so, seeing that she is numbered in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. [3]

What wisdom had the Queen of Sheba, who is not only named in the Old Testament, but Jesus had dared to name her among the other sages. [4] If it is a question of speaking of the graces which have been given to women, what greater [grace] has been given to any creature on the earth than to the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, to have carried the son of God? [5] It was not less [than that given] to Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, to have given birth to a son so miraculously, being sterile. [6]

What preacher has done more than the Samaritan woman [7] who was not ashamed to preach Jesus and his word, proclaiming him openly before all the world as soon as she understood from Jesus that it is necessary to adore God in spirit and in truth? Where is the one who can boast to have seen the first manifestation of the great mystery of the resurrection if not Mary Magdalene, from whom he had expelled seven demons? And the other women to whom it was declared by his Angel, rather than to men, and commanded to speak, preach and declare it to others?

And although there has been some imperfection in all women, nevertheless men have not been exempt from it. Why is it so necessary to criticize women, seeing that a woman never sold nor betrayed Jesus, but a man named Judas. Who are the ones, I ask you, who have so invented and fabricated ceremonies, heresies, and false doctrines on the earth, if not men, and the poor women have been seduced by them.

Never was a woman found to be a false prophet, although they have been fooled by them; although by this I do not wish to excuse the great malice of some women, which can surpass all measure, but there is no reason to make of it a general rule without any exception, as they [the critics of women] make daily; and principally Faustus, that mocker, in his Bucoliques ; seeing that, I certainly cannot keep silent, since these are more recommended and utilized than the Gospel of Jesus which is prohibited to us [women] and this story-teller [Faustus] is held to be good in the schools. [8]

Therefore, if God has given grace to some good women, revealing something good and holy to them through his Holy Scriptures, will they dare not write, tell, or declare it to one another for the sake of the slanderers of the truth? Ah, to wish to hinder them would be too impudent, and it would be too foolish to hide the talent that God has given us, we ought to have the grace to persevere until the end. Amen.

Jeanne de Jussie & Marie Dentiere
Dentiere by J. D. Douglass


Anonymous said...

AMEN! She has stated her case well. When women are given the gift to preach and teach and cannot, by man's (gender)pronouncement, use those gifts, it is saying God made a mistake. He does not. And, as Dentiere has shown, the Bible is repleat with women who preach and evangelized... all while listening to the voice of God to do so.

Anonymous said...

That was awesome.

Michelle said...

Thank you for my "Duh!" moment of the day. Was the Samaritan woman not a preacher?

I have read somewhere the observation (so as not to claim it as my own--funny how we are taught to read scripture by what we are taught scripture says, and it's hard to break free of that) that Jesus had a theological conversation with the Samaritan woman.

And then yes, she goes out and tells *everyone* who Jesus is.

Thank you for posting this. (Long-time reader and appreciator :-) )