Women in the Bible
Jesus sharply contrasted all expectations created for the messiah when he first came down to earth as a man. Not only did he not match what people physically expected- he was not a strong, attractive, mighty warrior- but he also defied and changed the social norms set during the time period of his arrival. Specifically, he was unafraid, unashamed, and wanted to provide his undivided attention to all children of God, including females, who at that time were looked upon as inferior to men. Jesus did not follow the standards of Jewish social traditions of that time, and his interactions with women found in the Bible reflect His teachings as a whole. Jesus saw women during a time women were invisible. Despite their lowly social status, heritage, and “uncleanliness,” Jesus approached women, spoke to them, and loved them.
Social commentator and philosopher Renee Girard has written extensively on the psychology of the mob and societys need to persecute a scapegoat to maintain societys cohesiveness. He argues that tensions which threaten a societys cohesiveness are often relieved by a society blaming and ultimately hurting a scapegoat (Barron). In Biblical Jewish society, this scapegoat was often a woman. Because according to one of the Genesis creation stories, woman was created after man, she was seen as a second-class citizen to begin with, an afterthought. “Their subordinate position was viewed as emanating from Eves role in the creation narrative, both as created secondary and as guilty of the original sin” (Ilan). Additionally, because Eve was guilty of the first sin in the genesis account, and because she convinced Adam to sin as well, women were seen as the cause of death and decay in paradise. They were viewed as not simply inferior to men, but as cursed (Ilan).
Often referred to as a “temptress,” a women is today often blamed for acts of adultery even though “it takes two to tango.” This belief was even more prominent in the time of Jesus and had far more intense consequences. If a couple was caught in the act of adultery, the woman was often thrown out into a public area and stoned to death (Marchiano 59). Such is found in the account of Jesus and the adulterous woman; “The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before them, they said to Him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law of Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” (John 8:3-5). These men, supposedly part of a “loving” church are considering stoning a woman to death. This is a very steep punishment, especially considering she did not commit the act alone. Rather than condone her murder and follow Jewish tradition, though, Jesus simply, yet cunningly replies, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her”