Friday, November 26, 2010

Women as Witnesses: Dropped NT Passages

This is from Mr. Scrivener on TC-Alt-List:


There is an intertextual, literary, content-based connection between the ME and the PA. And I don't mean a mere similarity in their problematic textual transmission history (transcriptional problems).

I'm talking about Intrinsic Evidence, that is content.

What? a connection between these two disparate stories?

Yes. Its about women. And its not simply that women were at the tomb, and a woman was also dragged before Israel in the Temple.

I noticed it in listening to this fellow talking about the role and status of women in the early church, and discussing various problem passages in that controversy.

Mark Goodacre has conveniently posted Tom Wright's youtube video in his latest entry on
his blog: http://ntweblog.blogspot.com/

You can get it from youtube under this title:
Tom Wright on the Apostles Junia and Mary Magdalene (Women in Ministry Part 5)

There Tom discusses the role of women, namely that the first person to witness and report the resurrection of Christ is Mary Magdalene.

He interestingly refers to the list of witnesses Paul provides as "later official church tradition", and notes tellingly that the women don't even make the list, even though it is preposterous not to acknowledge that every impportant Christian leader knew the women got to the tomb and saw Jesus first.

If those in favour of women's participation in the church cannot then argue that Mark ended at 16:8, with the women "afraid", and failing to tell anyone. In that case, like the story of Peter's denial (with dramatic additional material like John 21), this story would also have been used from early times to put women down!

Christian leaders would have argued along the lines of,

"The women proved themselves to be unreliable witnesses. With something so important as the Resurrection of our Lord, they dropped the ball and hid, and said nothing. Their witness is worthless and their leadership abilities are non-existant."

But instead, what the church did was protect themselves from charges of relying upon "unreliable women's testimony", by producing the official list of those who "saw our Lord", ALL MEN. The women's testimony was not denied, nor was any supposed 'failure' used to maintain or lower their authority or status.

This is the strongest evidence of all, that Mark could not have ended his Gospel at 16:8, as some doorknobs have tried to claim. If Mark had done so, then there would have been no redeeming testimony that the women immediately went and fetched the Apostles. if such a 'fix' were added later, it would have been violently opposed, since it would have falsely enthroned the women as witnesses when in fact they were known to be derelict deserters.

Mark must have issued with the complimentary story of the women going to tell the Apostles, or else they would have been scorned and left languishing in Jewish 'invalid witness' status.

Now we turn to the PA:

Wright successfully argues that the women's roles as witnesses and participants in gospel-preaching is the earlier tradition, while the church shortly afterward (after immediate challenge on women as witnesses?) quietly composed an 'official list' dropping them off from it.

If this is the treatment the early church gave to the difficulties regarding women as witnesses re: resurrection (a pivotal doctrine!), the would have given the same treatment to the difficulties regarding the story of the woman in the PA re: the Law (another highly charged doctrinal contention with the Jews).

That is, on the one hand there would be no denial of the incident or accusation of 'interpolation'. But at the same time, the church quietly dropped the public reading of this section (Easter), and relegated it later to a different time of year.

This is precisely what we find on the PA, and the ME: Absolute silence regarding the authenticity of the stories, but strange behavior in the making of MS copies where they should appear.

These two passages, may have indeed suffered similar fates, for similar reasons; not because of questions of inauthenticity, but because of the controversy of womens' status in the 1st and following centuries.

mr. scrivener
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(taken from TC-Alt-List, Yahoo Groups)

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