One question in particular has grabbed my attention in this story: how did Jesus know that the woman had given all she had? Was he simply guessing, or was he using someone as an illustration whose story he knew?
As with so many other stories in the Gospels that I explore in this book, this one raises a question for the reader that we who read too often fail to ask. Did Jesus not teach these things before? Was this Jesus illustrating a point that he had made countless times? In reading it, do we not get the sense that he is surprising his audience, including his inner circle of disciples? And if the latter is the case, then does that not suggest that Jesus is not merely illustrating a point he had already formulated and taught, but is gaining insight from what he sees and sharing it, learning and then facilitating learning by others as all good educators do?
The other key question is whether Jesus’ point is the widow’s generosity, or the system that results in a poor individual giving even the little that they have, while others give a fraction of their wealth or earnings and live lavishly nevertheless. What are your thoughts on that?
Also about this story:
Rich scribes and poor widows: reading Mark 12.38-44 with Ched Myers and Addison Wright
Addison Wright’s CBQ article on the story is available online
Widows in the New Testament period
Jesus and Chance
Sermon: The Widow’s Plight
The Widow’s Mite? No, MIGHT! – Justice, Power, and the Widow
Faith to Go: Money and Discomfort
Another look at the widow’s mite
Other links related to early Christian women, women in the ancient world, and the like:
Mary and Martha Talk about Bicycle Riding, Writing Books, and Sabbatical
Mary Retold on AJR
The many layers of the story of the women bent double in Luke 13
Covenant Partners: The Biblical Egalitarian Outlook on Female and Male Relationships in Genesis 17
How Evangelicals Forgot Women’s History
New Clues for Ascent of the Soul in the Gospel of Mary
Matchmaking With the Ancients
Sarah Finley, Christopher Newport University – Hearing Voices of Women Past
There was a review of Revenge and Gender in Classical, Medieval and Renaissance Literature in Bryn Mawr Classical Review.
What Do We Mean by Purity Culture?
Menstruation in Fiction
Christian Century had articles on a woman’s place in the mosque and The Bachelorette.
Christian Sheriff’s Deputy: I Was Fired for Refusing to Train a Female Cop
Was Early Christianity Hostile to Women?
Tendencies to Remember When Teaching Women
Who Was Mary Magdalene? Apostle, Lover, Demon Possessed?