Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Remembering women in the gospels

Laurence Mottier encouraged us to remember women in the gospels as she began our feminist theology group last night. It made me smile that she chose to begin by getting us to remember. What I found interesting about our ecumenical group of nearly 30 women trying to piece together the names and stories of the women in the gospel was how this remembering triggered other more recent memories as well.
As Laurence was telling us something about the status of women in the various times of the Bible, some of the women were chiming in saying - "Well it may have been like then but it really isn't so long ago that women weren't trusted here either. Back in the 1980s I wasn't allowed to sign for a loan without my husband's signature."
From remembering we moved on to semiotics and in particular the text of Luke's gospel part of it translated into French by Laurence herself. We looked at how women had been written into and out of the gospel story and how centuries of tradition, assumptions and patriarchy have led to women disciples being forgotten. We also came across some questionable translation issues which I haven't got time to go into now - let's just say that the Bible en français courant's rendering of Luke 8.1-3 owes more to interpretation than translation.
Two things really struck me as the evening progressed.
The clear glimpse we get through the text of how the women disciples are said to have followed Jesus from the outset - from Galilee - and in Luke's gospel it is only the women disciples who are there at the crucifixion. From beginning to end the women disciples or some of them followed the Rabouni, they bear witness to Christ's life, death and resurrection. Only when men take up the story will it begin to be believed.
Laurence also said that the two words that she uses to typify discipleship in French are "service" and "suivre" - service and following. The female and male disciples in Luke's gospel do both. Only the female disciples in Luke still follow to the foot of the cross.