the problem of course is that the sources are no help in really answering this question, which means that most will look into the well and see their own reflection
"of no help"? Seems like something of an overstatement, Jim.-anthony
Wondering what people see as the most compelling evidence of Jesus being "generally progressive." Eric
Equal. I base my opinion on the "throw the first stone" incident from John 8. Women and men are equally sinful. I think this can be applied to other characteristics, positive or negative.
Jesus' encounters with Mary and Martha as well as his female followers suggests a subversive attitude towards the value of women in 1st century Palestine.
If Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet, as Jesus scholars generally agree, then a progressive view on gender would fit with the role reversals brought about by the Kingdom of God breaking in. In that culture, women would be part of the last who in the kingdom would be first.
Agreed Caleb. As well as our historical knowledge that the group that joined early Christianity in Rome in the largest numbers were the poor women. The Kingdom sounded like HOPE in a time when there was little for this group.
In addition to women disciples and his readiness to engage women in a public way (which violated social norms) I think his teaching on divorce (forbidding men to divorce their wives; women didn't have an option) was a way of enhancing the status of women. He appeals to the creation story that emphasizes the two become one. I think there are some good reasons for considering this to be authentic.
I think we should keep an eye on this guy Scot McKnight. He may be an up-and-comer.McKnight wrote this today. It sums up my opinion on this subject:"[No]where is Jesus or Paul criticized for their approaches to women. That is, Jesus’ openness to women and Paul’s openness to women do not draw fire from their contemporaries. Why? Probably because their behaviors did not stand out as unusual. In other words, the Roman empire and Judaism had space for women to do the things they did with Jesus and with Paul."
From Origen’s Against Celsus book 3, chapter 10 ...such was the charm of Jesus’ words, that not only were men willing to follow him to the wilderness, but women also, forgetting the weakness of their sex and a regard for outward propriety in thus following their Teacher into desert places.
Well ... Origen is not a contemporary of Jesus or Paul. He is not criticizing Jesus' openness to women, and at least in Book 3 Chapter 10, it does not even appear that Celsus was criticizing Jesus' openness to women. Origen does appear to be imagining a norm of "outward propriety" that was transgressed by some of Jesus' female followers, but he's hardly proof that such a norm existed or that anyone thought that the norm was violated by Jesus or his female followers. Just to be clear, I think it's great if contemporary Christians want to see Jesus as advocating gender equality, the right to vote, equal pay, maternity leave (for both sexes, please) and Title IX. I won't struggle against a portrait of the historical Jesus that agrees with me.
My apologies, I should have specified that this is a quotation of Celsus. Celsus is indeed criticizing Jesus for encouraging women to extend themselves in public discipleship (a place that was gender specific in the ANE).Not speaking, necessarily to a norm, just exposing McKnight's overstatement.-anthony
misplaced comma there; even more apologies.
I’m working from the online newadvent.org translation here. The context for Book 3, Chapter 10 appears to be as follows: Origen is addressing Celsus’ argument that there is no significant difference between Christianity and Judaism, and that Christians are rebels against Judaism. While this is not entirely clear to me, it seems that Celsus is criticizing Christianity for separating from Judaism for no good reason, for forming factions, and for seeking to live separately from others. Origen quotes Celsus to say that “if all men wished to become Christians, the latter would not desire such a result.” An odd argument, to be sure, and Origen responds predictably that Christians try to “disseminate their doctrine throughout the whole world.” Origen next notes Celsus’ argument that “Christians at first were few in number” but as Christianity grew it “divided and separated” into factions, “for this was their object from the beginning.” This is how we get to the text you quoted, as Origen argues that Christians were not few in number at first: Jesus had thousands of men, women and children follow him into the wilderness on at least two occasions. I don’t see any statement here from Celsus criticizing Jesus for having female followers. Here, at least, Celsus’ focus is on the number of Jesus’ followers, without any statement by Celsus regarding gender. The statement you quoted appears to be from Origen’s response to Celsus, and not from Celsus himself. Am I missing something? I know that Celsus criticizes Christianity for having so many women followers (“they desire and are able to gain over only the silly, and the mean, and the stupid, with women and children” – Book 3, Chapter 44), but I don’t see any recognition here from Celsus that Jesus had female followers.
"...forgetting the weakness of their sex and a regard for outward propriety in thus following their Teacher into desert places."In order to understand what Celsus is saying here, we must keep in mind that the decidedly masculine arenas of the public/civic life were beyond the station of women.-anthony
???? Isn't that Origen talking about "forgetting", and not Celsus? And isn't Origen talking positively about women forgetting about the (supposed) norm, because Jesus' words were so charming? Remember, Celsus is arguing that there weren't many Christians in Jesus' day, and Origen is arguing the contrary.
Larry, after looking at this again, I think you're probably right. I looks to be Origen deconstructing Celsus. My mistake.It is unclear to me whether this is a backhanded compliment or a direct chiding of the women who forgot their propriety.-anthony
Larry, thanks for that link.
I don't think that "gender equality" was part of Jesus' agenda.. I believe it's more a "modern" concern projected back to Jesus' activity, therefore the question is hard to answer. Also, "his contemporaries" were a lot of people in the Mediterranean area, with different opinions. I think that "Jesus the Jew" shared the ideas of his (jewish) contemporaries on such matter, although his "apocalyptic teaching" leaded him to behave in a "progressive way", for example associating with women (although we know that Pharisees were supported and protected by powerful women in the court of King Herod the Great). We know nothing regarding his opinion on homosexuality, but - if I'd bet on it - I'd say that "Jesus the Jew" wasn't as progressive as people today may like.