Defamation of Character in Biblical Interpretation

Kerry Connelly wrote in a recent blog post about a commentary on the story about a “sinful woman” in Luke 7:

Wait. What?

We don’t need to blacken Simon’s character, but it’s totally cool to call the woman a whore even if there’s no evidence of it in the text? We can construct an entire narrative around her life as a prostitute, and her expensive oil that could only have been purchased through her elicit activity, but let’s make sure we don’t disparage the man in the room — the one who is totally missing the message of Jesus, who is over there looking down on this woman in his heart, playing at the pretense of hospitality with no real love behind it, withholding the lavishness of his love and worship while this woman lets it all out?

God forbid the man might be held accountable.

Many male interpreters in particular are blind to our own assumptions and biases. Bravo to Connelly for addressing this point in the ways that she describes in her blog post – which you should definitely click through and read in its entirety.

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  • Phil Ledgerwood

    Interestingly (or not), the only other occurrence of the word hamartolos in Luke outside of that passage is 5:8 when Simon Peter asks Jesus to depart from him because he (Simon) is a sinner.

  • barry

    Internet Apologist James Patrick Holding has been citing the Context Group bible scholars for the last 20 years, to justify his belief that the bible gives license to modern-day Christians to use indecent foul language to belittle, insult and shame anybody they disagree with on biblical matters, a trait that he is particularly infamous for.

    But Holding has recently updated his magnum opus where he justifies defaming people in the name of Jesus. From the defensive tone in the first few paragraphs he recently added, it appears that he was finally confronted with absolute proof that the Context Group view him as an atrocious blight on their faith.

    See that article and my reply at