Let’s be honest. If I keep having ideas for books that I should write, I’ll either be one of those people who finally well into retirement writes books that they’ve been promising/hoping to for decades, or I’ll never write many of them. Either way, maybe it is OK. But serving as supervisor for a student’s research on Christianity and feminism and how the two relate (or are at a disconnect or even at odds with one another) when it comes to Jesus and/or the biblical text) has given me an idea for a book project that would actually relate not only to that student’s work, but also other things that have long been on my radar, in a wide variety of ways.
Here are some of the possible chapters I’ve outlined so far:
Jesus the Student and Lifelong Learner: Introduction
Jesus at Home and at Grandma’s House
No Longer Dogs: The Syro-Phoenician (Canaanite) Woman
Relativizing Geography and Religion: The Samaritan Woman
Healing Flows Stronger than Impurity: The Woman with a Menstrual Ailment
Get Up: The Vulnerability of Young Women
From Demonized Enemy to Friend: Mary Magdalene
From Housework to Pursuit of Education: Mary and Martha
Poor Widow Gives All
From Servants to Supporters: Wealthy Women Behind the Scenes
From Ill Repute to Model of Forgiveness: Lavish Ointment and/or Tears
Exposing and Opposing Systemic Inequity: A Woman Accused of Committing Adultery Alone
In most if not all of these cases, the response and commentary of Jesus as well as that of his disciples indicates that he had not made the matter clear previously. And so these incidents in the life of Jesus should not be treated as mere illustrations but as moments in which Jesus learns these things and makes the discovery part of his public teaching. His insight and openness to learning makes him a more powerful and meaningful teacher than does the assumption that each of these points is simply a divinely-revealed truth that he knew before he was born.
Of related interest, see the article in Sojourners about #MeToo founder Tanara Burke, who said, “‘Jesus was the first activist that I knew, and the first organizer that I knew, and the first example of how to be in service to people.” There is also an article about how blaming women for men’s sins is as old as the Bible.