"Do you see this woman" (Luke 7:44). The multi-faceted witness of women in Luke's gospel
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The open question that is posed in this research, seeks to ascertain what the women exemplify as they interact with Jesus in the Lukan Gospel. How does Jesus engage them and what aspects of discipleship and response do they model? Furthermore, what do their reactions reveal of Jesus and how do they anticipate his ministry? By doing a comparison and contrast with the men what more can be learned? The methodology focuses on characterisation and, in particular, on reader response with the implied reader of the first century. It involves a detailed exegesis of all pericopes where women encounter Jesus in his adult ministry, an analysis of the female character in her interaction with Jesus and the other characters, a synkrisis of the male-female pairings (usually in juxtaposed pericopes) and finally a summary based on the cumulative reading of the female characters and their relationship with Jesus. The diversity and complexity of individual women, who appear in only one pericope each, demonstrate a variety of interactions with Jesus and many aspects of discipleship. Alongside the singular characters, a group of Galilean women form a continuous link from Jesus’ earliest ministry through to the empty tomb. This culminates in their witness to the resurrection. The sequential reading and synkrises show that there is a complementarity between the responses of the men and women with different emphases at different times. Luke’s aim, in establishing the synkrises, is not to show competition between men and women but to help elucidate what it means to follow Jesus, irrespective of gender. This inclusive discipleship is demonstrated in Jesus’ extension of his fictive kindred to include all who “hear the word of God and do it” (8:19-21; 11:27-28). The response of Jesus to the women further elucidates his ministry, and frequently, anticipates that ministry in particular in relation to the Paschal mystery.
KeywordsWomen in Luke's gospel