During His ministry, Jesus Christ restored sight to the blind and mobility to the lame. He restored the higher law of love and forgiveness. He restored Melchizedek Priesthood authority to act in God’s name. Yet one of the most important things He restored is rarely discussed: He restored the sacred nature of the family and marriage by re-establishing a noble image of women and children.
In order to appreciate the dramatic change that Jesus made to the role of women and their relationships, we need to place His teachings in the context of His day. How did Jewish, Greek, and Roman men treat women and children?
Combing through the volumes of documents, letters, poems, plays, histories, and holy books from the late Second Temple Era leaves the impression that in many cases their family relations went awry. We find startling differences when we compare their pages of misunderstandings, oppression, and dysfunctional relationships, to the New Testament stories of Jesus’ tender interactions with women and children.
As decisively as He cleansed the temple, Jesus attacked the cultural falsehoods that surrounded Jewish family life. He tore down false practices and notions regarding women, children, and family relationships. He denounced centuries of harmful traditions that destroyed marital partnerships and led to misogyny. He shocked his audiences with declarations of His Messiahship (i.e., Luke 4:21-28). Equally as shocking, He appreciated and validated women and children (Mark 14:4-6; Luke 7:39; 10:40; etc.). He made abrupt and radical changes that restored women to a place of value with eternal potential.
However, just like the Jews who were so intent on finding a conquering Messiah to overthrow their Roman oppressors that they missed the Son of God who came as a carpenter’s son, who grew into our suffering servant (Isaiah 49, 52, 53)—so too we may miss the subtle yet emancipating changes that Christ provided for family life if we only look for a gallant, daring liberator.
Christ sowed new spiritual and social seeds that had the potential to provide a loving, nurturing, healthy family life, but in some cases took years and even centuries to germinate and bear fruit.
Jesus and His Apostles spoke to women (John 4:7-27), incited their education (Luke 10:39-42), healed them (Mark 7:25-29), asked them to speak out as witnesses (Matthew 28:5-10), touched them (Mark 5:30-34; Matthew 28:9), called them by name, and taught them an eternal nature of their marriage relationships (Matthew 5:3-11; John 17:21; Ephesians 5:25, 31). All these ideas were considered scandalous!
Today, I will highlight five cultural customs that affected women and then contrasts them with Christ’s empowering changes: 1. Segregation, 2. Communication 3. Responsibilities, 4. Dress. and 5. Witness.
Cultural Background and Baggage
Jewish pharisaic traditions taught men and women to stay physically segregated, “[they] should not mingle.” Their physical segregation led to emotional segregation, which developed into misunderstandings. Women were seen as a cause of temptation, so they were veiled, silenced, and kept away from men as much as possible. Especially in the city, Jewish women were discouraged from going outside in order to avoid being seen by men. This protocol existed in Jerusalem and other large cities where Jews lived. For example, in Alexandria, the third largest city in the Greco-Roman world, the Jewish philosopher Philo (20 BC to AD 50), described his view of the ideal separation of men and women in public.
Marketplaces and council-halls, law-courts and gatherings, and meetings where a large number of people are assembled, and open-air life with full scope for discussion and action – all these are suitable to men both in war and peace.
The women are best suited to the indoor life which never strays from the house . . . A woman then, should not be a busybody, meddling with matters outside her household concerns, but should seek a life of seclusion.
This view of segregated women was accepted for centuries as the social norm at the time of the New Testament. Most Jewish girls and women remained at home, as one historian described it, were “confined at home as in a prison.”. Yet, A more relaxed attitude about gender separation existed in the country where the majority of Jews lived in Palestine.
The segregation continued inside wealthy Pharisee and Sadducee homes with separate quarters exclusive to members of their gender. Pious families in Jerusalem limited their interaction by gender except on rare occasions.
“[Women] were always kept in seclusion and did not even appear at the house-door, and their unmarried daughters, who were limited to the women’s quarter, women who for modesty’s sake shunned the eyes of men, even their closest relatives, now became exposed to people who were not just unfamiliar men.” Even in the home, though, if a male guest came for a meal, the women and girls were not to eat at the same table, but could silently interact with the company as a servant.
Synagogue worship was also segregated. Men were commanded to attend their Sabbath worship services, but women were not. If a woman chose to go to the synagogue, she sat separately and silently. Within a few decades after the time of the New Testament, rabbis added separate entrances for men and women and lattice barriers to keep the women unseen and unheard. Women did not read the Scriptures, give their opinion, teach, or pray verbally during the service, but they were allowed to listen in silence. Gender separation and silencing in religious meetings led to prejudices about the religious nature of women.
An element of protection underscored these rules: girls were segregated in hopes of keeping them chaste. From the Apocrypha, the Jewish leader Ben Sira counseled fathers to keep an eye on their unmarried daughters, even inside their homes, to avoid all risks of their being defiled, “lest she make thee a laughingstock to thine enemies, and a byword in the city, and a reproach among the people, and make thee ashamed before the multitude.” It appears that the public humiliation to the father was more of the concern than the abusive scars to the daughter.
For the most part, these confining regulations oppressed and demeaned women. They created a culture of fear and mistrust between the sexes. This gave rise to a lack of appreciation and reinforced negative gender stereotypes of women as dangerous temptresses. Segregation often inhibited a woman’s ability to contribute within her community, to serve outside of her home, to join in public worship, and to access education.
Changes by Jesus
Jesus did not live by these segregating restrictions for women. He refused to isolate women and treated them as valued individuals. He allowed women and children to join the group of five thousand and later four thousand men who gathered to hear Him teach in Galilee (Matthew 14:21; 15:38). He refuted those who wanted to send the women and children away (Mark 10:13-14; Matthew 15:23). He welcomed women to stay in the same room as men (Luke 7:38-40). He did not segregate the unclean, whether they were sick or sinful or social outcasts.
This is beautifully illustrated in all three synoptic Gospels on a crowded street in Galilee (Matthew 9:19-22; Mark 5:24-34; Luke 8:43-48). The story begins with a throng of people accompanying Jesus across town to the home of Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, to heal Jairus’ daughter. En route, an “unclean” woman tries to touch Jesus to receive His healing virtue. This woman was labeled “unclean” because, for over a decade, she had an “issue of a blood,” possibly a hemorrhaging uterus.
Socially this meant, for the past twelve years, the Mosaic law forbade her from going out in public, touching anyone, worshipping in the synagogue or temple, or sharing her husband’s bed (Leviticus 15:19-28). As a result of her condition, her husband had probably divorced her (Deuteronomy 24:1). Since physical disabilities were seen as the consequence of sin, and a woman’s menses made her “unclean” (Ezekiel 36:17-18), we assume that at least some of her neighbors and family had probably accused her of wickedness and rejected her. The Gospel of Mark also included that she was destitute after spending all her money on medical help (Mark 5:26).
Yet this faith-filled and determined woman sought healing from the Lord: “If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole” (Matthew 9:21; Mark 5:28). To do so, she broke the segregation protocol that had banished her to a life of seclusion—she went outside into a crowded street and tried to hide herself in the pack following Jesus. When she touched His outer garment, or the hem of His tunic, Jesus immediately felt that “virtue has gone out of me,” or more literally, “power has gone forth from me” (Luke 8:46 KJV and RSV). Jesus gave part of Himself in order to heal the woman physically. This in turn led to her healing socially and emotionally as well. It took amazing bravery for the woman to answer Jesus’ direct question, “Who touched me?” (Mark 5:31).
In that throng of townspeople hurrying through the village to Jairus’ home, she showed her faith, courage, and humility; “When the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately” (Luke 8:47). Jesus offered no reproach for her breaching social propriety—instead he praised the depth of her faith: “Your faith has brought you salvation” (Luke 8:47, ABT). And then Jesus offered a departing blessing, “Go in peace” (Luke 8:48). In this poignant story, Jesus defied the cultural norms that marginalized women. By acknowledging, touching and healing this woman, He set a new standard for the way women should be treated.
Cultural Background and Baggage
An obvious extension of the fact that men and women were segregated was that they did not directly communicate with each other. Simply stated, Jewish men were instructed, “Talk not much with womankind,” followed by the appalling phrase, “they said this of a man’s own wife: how much more of his fellow’s wife!” Along the same vein, Ben Sira recorded, “A silent wife is a gift from the Lord; her restraint is more than money can buy.” Equally extreme, a renowned Rabbi Joshua claimed that any girl or woman found speaking to a man in the street was guilty of breaking the law of chastity unless there was evidence to the contrary. With or without that inference, speaking with the opposite gender was avoided for fear it might result in something scandalous: “Do not speak excessively with a woman lest this ultimately lead you to adultery!”
Another Jerusalem rabbi taught that men who talked to women demonstrated misplaced priorities that would end in damnation: “He that talks much with womankind brings evil upon himself, neglects the study of The Law and at the last will inherit Gehenna [hell].” Another rabbi blamed the Scriptures for his rationalization to not communicate with women: “We have not found that the Almighty spoke to a woman except Sarah.” In his view, because the Holy Book did not record God speaking to women, neither should men.
Changes by Jesus
Jesus did not silence women, but spoke with them respectfully. In Bethany, he spoke directly with both Mary and Martha (Luke 10:42). In Samaria, He conversed with the woman at the well (John 4:7-27). In Galilee, He called to a crippled woman, bent over perhaps from osteoporosis, and spoke the healing words to her, “Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity”
(Luke 13:12). In Jericho, He conversed with Salome, the mother of James and John, politely asking her, “What do you wish?” (Matthew 20:21, NASB). She felt safe to make her request as well as to receive His answer, even though it included a gentle reproach: “Ye know not what ye ask . . . to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but . . . my Father[’s]” (Matthew 20:22-23). In Jerusalem, on the road to Golgotha, He sensitively observed the women crying and comforted them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me” (Luke 23:28). Over and over again, Jesus’ example cut through layers of segregation and silence to offer dignity and deference to women.
The longest recorded conversation that Jesus had with a woman is His encounter in Samaria with the woman at the well (John 4:7-28). Only John’s Gospel records this dialogue that took place in Samaria as Jesus rested alone near Jacob’s well, as His disciples went into the city to buy bread for their noon meal (John 4:8). As He rested, “a Samaritan woman came to draw water, [and] Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’” (John 4:7, NIV). This was an unusual request because a religious Jew would never eat anything touched by someone ritually “unclean,” especially a Samaritan. The whole trip would have been repulsive to a devout Jew from Jerusalem: walking on a Samaritan road, going into a Samaritan town, eating Samaritan food, and drinking Samaritan water.
John’s record includes the woman’s astonishment at Jesus’ breach of social rules. The woman correctly asked Him, “How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria?” (John 4:9). Jesus’ behavior slashed through strongholds of Judaic social norms: He spoke to a woman, He spoke to a Samaritan, and He asked to drink water from an unclean pot. His actions reinforced His message that God is no respecter of persons (2 Chronicles 19:7; Acts 10:34).
Yet, the Lord’s conversation pulled His listener in a different direction than she anticipated. Jesus had higher motives in mind than simply quenching His thirst as He proposed that she ask Him for living water—reversing their roles. “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water” (John 4:10). However, the Samaritan woman was initially deaf to this higher symbolism. Ironically, she responded, “Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well?” (John 4:12). To which Jesus answered, “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:13-14). Only aware of her literal need for sustaining water, the woman thought on a physical plane: “Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw” (John 4:15).
The challenges of getting water from a well, in addition to the social stigmas of her life, would have made the prospect of never again thirsting a welcome offer—but that was not the Lord’s message. He patiently taught her to look beyond her sphere of understanding, and explained that He was not referring to sustaining her physically, but eternally (John 4:14). Jesus wanted to emancipate her from her spiritual bondage. So He divulged His knowledge of her five divorces, and the fact that she currently was living in sin. She, in turn, humbly acknowledged, “I perceive that thou art a prophet” (John 4:19).
Her response after such a humiliating and embarrassing disclosure from a complete stranger spoke of the open and humble condition of her heart. Rather than feeling defensive, running away, or retreating in self-pity, the woman acknowledged Jesus as a prophet and then moved to the next logical step of asking for His prophetic insight into a standard doctrinal question that often surfaced between the Jews and Samaritans. In fact, the woman’s question gave evidence to her faith in Jesus as a prophet (John 4:19-20). She asked Him, “Where is the correct place to worship?” Mount Gerizim in Samaria (as the Samaritans believed) or Mount Moriah in Jerusalem (as the Jews believed).
The woman asked again for earthly evidence while Jesus’ answer stretched her upward to divine principles. He explained that the location was not the key issue in worship; it was who, why, and how one worshiped. True worship comes from the condition of one’s heart, “true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23). This dramatic conversation broke through walls of ethnic bigotry.
This became the earliest scriptural reference where John’s Gospel announced Jesus’ Messiahship. “The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am He” (John 4:25-26). This bold declaration stands in contrast to the many times in the Gospels when the Lord limited what He divulged due to the skepticism of His audience (Mark 13:4; Luke 20:2-8; 22:67; John 3:10-12; 3 Nephi 17:2; etc.). But here He forthrightly communicated with a woman (in particular, a sinning Samaritan woman), honoring her with great insight.
John’s description of what happened next offers profound symbolism: she left her water pot. Her pot can be seen as emblematic of the cares of the world, her old life, and her old source of sustenance. She left it all behind for her new life that led her to share the living water or good news—the gospel. Jesus broke down enormous social barriers and trusted her to witness the truth of His Messiahship. He trusted her with the mysteries, and He trusted her to change. In this manner, Jesus empowered her and those of us who also have water pots to leave behind.
III. Women’s Responsibilities
Cultural Background and Baggage
The most important duty of Jewish women at the time of Christ was to bear and raise children. Bearing children was so crucial that if a wife were barren for ten years, her husband had a religious obligation to divorce her. Some rabbis diminished women’s contributions in this sacred role: “All we [men] can expect from them [women] is that they bring up our children and keep us from sin.” This statement does not recognize the nobility in motherhood. Raising children was often seen as a menial task on par with other household tasks.
A Jewess’ household responsibilities are enumerated in the Mishnah as the “duties which a wife must perform for her husband” and included “grinding flour and baking bread, washing clothes and cooking food, nursing her child, making his bed and working in wool. If she brings one servant with her, she need not grind.” These duties would be increased or decreased depending on how many other women, children, or servants could help. Often multiple generations lived in the same home or close to one another and shared in the work. Without slaves or children it fell to a wife to wash her husband’s face, hands and feet, and “prepare his cup.”
A chaste wife was an utmost requirement in honoring her husband. One rabbi underlined chastity in a wife’s work load: she must always keep busy or her “idleness leads to unchastity,” and another commentary, “idleness leads to lowness of spirit.”
Next, a wife must be subservient to her husband. Philo explained that a husband, “delighting in his master-like authority, is to be respected for his pride: but the woman, being in the rank of a servant, is praised for assenting to a life of communion.” Most Jews referred to a wife as her husband’s property: “He that possesseth a good wife, beginneth a possession.” As her husband’s subservient property, a respectable wife was to honor her husband: “a wife who honors her husband is accounted wise by all.”
Wives were to take counsel from their husbands, not to give it. They believed that Adam was cursed in the Garden of Eden, “Because he weakly submitted to the counsel of his wife.” This attitude potentially fostered a sense of superiority and self-importance in the man that could inhibit the development of cooperation, unity, and selflessness between companions.
We see a lack of mutual respect in such statements: “Better is the iniquity of a man, than a woman doing a good turn, and a woman bringing shame and reproach.” It appears that male dominion became skewed.
The Jewish historian Josephus justified a man’s feeling superior to a woman by saying, “for says the Scripture, ‘A woman is inferior to her husband in all things.’” The “Scripture” that Josephus claimed is unknown, but Josephus further added that women were only “sanctified through the deeds of men . . . the anomaly of women is worked out . . . by assigning her to a man’s domain.”
Changes by Jesus
Christian women had many similar responsibilities to those of their Jewish peers: bearing children, serving one’s family, loving one’s husband, and serving those in need (1 Timothy 5:14; Titus 2:4). But the Lord made abrupt and fundamental changes to the priorities placed upon women. He never referred to women as possessions, nor did He dominant or try to control them (Matthew 9:22; 15:28; Mark 14:6; Luke 13:12; John 4:4-21; 8:10; etc.).
The Gospel of John tells us that Jesus “loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus” (11:5). When He went to their home in Bethany for a special dinner party, He noticed that Martha was frustrated with her sister’s lack of help. Even if the hostess had servants (which she probably did), Martha’s workload was huge.
From the perspective of most law-abiding Jews, Martha’s sister Mary was out of line to sit at Jesus’ feet to learn from Him. Not only did Mary neglect her responsibilities, but she was also speaking to a male guest, and it appears that she delved into areas of learning The Law, both of which were forbidden to women. Some rabbis taught that if a woman spoke with a man other than her husband, it was cause for a divorce. Other rabbis taught, “If a man gives his daughter a knowledge of The Law it is as though he taught her lechery.”
On the other hand, Martha acted as an upright Jewess preparing the meal and home for her honored guest, Jesus. She asked the male leader to correct her errant sister: “Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me” (Luke 10:40). Jesus certainly did not mean that serving others is not important (which I discuss in chapter 8). His response to Martha sounds like a reminder of priorities to the modern reader.
Yet to that ancient society, Jesus’ response would have been utterly shocking: “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part” (Luke 10:41-42). Jesus’ support of Mary’s behavior was a revolutionary endorsement of female spiritual engagement, learning and communication.
The last phrase in Luke 10:42 is also interesting, “which shall not be taken away from her.” We need to examine that phrase in the world of the Second Temple. At that time everything a girl or woman earned or found legally belonged to her male guardian. A female had no claim on anything tangible—including her children, who were the property of their father (including in a divorce, when the father had full custody). A female did not even have ownership of her own life: her father or husband could sell her into slavery. As a slave, a girl’s freedom and chastity could be taken away, as could her earnings, property or food.
With this as background, we find even more meaning in the Lord’s promise that her relationship with Him—and her knowledge—could not be taken away. Not only would Mary be able to learn and live a richer life from her experience, but also she would own her knowledge beyond this life. The Lord’s words apply to the eternal spectrum, “whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection” (D&C 130:18).
In addition to the benefits of educating women, this story validated male and female interaction. Jesus’ example indicated that it was acceptable for women to participate in the world of the mind and of the spirit, and not exclusively in the traditional domestic tasks.
Cultural Background and Baggage
In the Greco-Roman world, dress was an important symbol of one’s station and values. In the Jewish world, Strict modesty was necessary in order to communicate one’s chastity. Even though the Old Testament did not forbid it, the Jewish society of the late Second Temple era (20 BC to AD 70) required a married Jewess to be completely covered outside her home. If she did not entirely drape herself, her husband could divorce her and not have to pay for the marriage contract fee. The public protocol required a woman to cover her hair, face, and body. If a Jewess uncovered her head in public, it was interpreted as a sign of rejecting God: “You have departed from the way of the daughters of Israel, whose habit it is to have their heads covered, and you have walked in the ways of idolatrous women who walk about with their heads uncovered.”
The biblical scholar Joachim Jeremias described their custom of veiling their faces with a complex arrangement of “two head veils, a head-band on the forehead with bands to the chin, and a hairnet with ribbons and knots, so that her features could not be recognized.” The veiling was so extensive that on one occasion, a chief priest in Jerusalem did not even recognize his own mother as the person in front of him being tried for adultery. Several generations after the New Testament, as rabbinic Judaism expanded their definition of modesty to include covering a woman’s ankles. The Talmud warned against “voyeurism” because it may lead to adultery: “He who looks at a woman’s heels . . . is as if he had intercourse with her.”
Outside of the city, the dress code differed slightly. This is one reason why Jews in the city looked down upon their less pious kinsmen in the country. It was not practical for women in the country to wear such extensive wrappings because many farmers needed their wives’ and children’s help in the fields, and it would have severely impeded their productivity. Over the centuries, artists who depict New Testament scenes rarely portray women in public with their face and bodies completely draped, yet the writings from observant Jews from the time suggest that it was so. “A man goes out bareheaded while a woman goes out with her head covered” (Genesis Rabbi 17.8)
Changes by Jesus
The rigor of the Jewish dress code provides an interesting backdrop for the story in Luke about the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her hair. Given that women were to be covered in public settings, one can better understand the shock of Jesus’ host when an uninvited woman approached Jesus and unbound her hair (Luke 7:36-50). Instead of condemning the woman, Jesus acknowledged her thoughtfulness, humility, love, and faith as she wiped His feet with her hair. More astonishing, when the Pharisaic host questioned Jesus’ morals for allowing an uncovered woman to touch Him (which was interpreted as evidence that she was “morally uncovered”), Jesus condemned the host (Luke 7:44-46).
I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.
According to Luke’s record, Jesus pointed out that the host had neglected to offer his traveling guests the opportunity to wash upon arrival.
Walking in sandals on dusty stones or unpaved roads left one’s feet callused, cut, and encrusted with dirt. Decorum dictated that a host provide the means for guests to wash before entering a house. At the very least, hosts provided basins of water for their guests; in more polite settings, the host assigned a servant or child to do the menial task of washing the guests’ feet. Foot care was such a filthy job that it was often delegated to slaves. In their homes, children often had the assignment to wash their fathers’ feet each day. In washing Jesus’ feet with her own hair, this woman entered into the role of “servant” or “child” of Christ.
This act of submission to Jesus was a demonstration of her repentant heart, and Christ freely forgave her: “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much” (Luke 7:47). She seems to exemplify that discipleship of Christ requires submission to Him as servant to master, child to father. She also became yet another example of Jesus’ acceptance of social outcasts and of His rejecting restrictive social norms for women. In this account, we have no evidence that Jesus verbally condemned the woman for breaching the rules of dress by uncovering her hair. Rather, by allowing her to continue, He communicated an acceptance.
When Jesus needed to speak out or to educate about one’s clothing, He did. But rather than condemning uncovered hair, He condemned those who dressed and acted for social aggrandizement: “Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts” (Luke 20:46). He denounced dress as a form of pride. The Lord maintained a higher perspective around physical dress standards that fostered pure love rather than unhealthy rigid social standards.
After Jesus’ death, the Lord’s apostles counseled women and men to cover themselves with a different type of clothing—the armor of God:
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.… Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:12-17; 1 Thessalonians 5:8).
In Christianity, clothing took on an important figurative meaning. More important than concerning oneself with outer adornments, the apostles asked followers of Christ to put off the natural man in order to put on the armor of God. Christians dress in God’s armor as they live God’s commandments and apply “the enabling power of His atonement.” With its protection, one becomes more holy and less worldly.
Cultural Background and Baggage
Jewish magistrates did not allow women to act as legal or official witnesses in a court of law. Jewish law formally silenced a woman’s legal testimony because men did not think that women could be trusted. One source claimed that the custom stemmed from rabbinic interpretation of Genesis 18:15, “Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not.” From Sarah’s response, Jewish leaders extrapolated that all women were liars and unworthy of acting as witnesses. Josephus rationalized women’s disqualification as witnesses because of the “levity and boldness of their sex.”
Even outside of a court of law, some rabbis would not trust a woman’s word without additional proof. On a maiden’s wedding night, she had to produce various “tokens of virginity” because “we may not rely on her word, but she must be presumed to have been trampled of man unless she can bring proof for her words.” These accounts sound as if a girl or woman were guilty until proven innocent.
Changes by Jesus
Fortunately, Jesus validated a woman’s judgment by trusting her word as witness and by treating her as capable of speaking the truth. Over and over again Jesus called and accepted women among His witnesses. Beginning with the birth narratives, we see God authorizing women as witnesses: the priestess Elisabeth, the mother Mary, and the prophetess Anna (Luke 1:41-45; 1:46-55; 2:36-38). But would people at the time of Christ’s birth have believed their witnesses?
Perhaps the clearest witness of Jesus’ divinity during His ministry came from Martha. Jesus asked her if she believed that He had power over death. John recorded her inspired answer of the Lord’s divine nature: “Yea, Lord I believe that thou art the Christ [Messiah], the Son of God, which should come into the world” (John 11:27). Her vibrant testimony shines as a second witness beside Peter’s in Caesarea Philippi, voicing almost the same words.
|Peter in Matthew 16:16||Martha in John 11:27|
|Simon Peter answered and said,
Thou art the Christ,
the Son of the living God
|She saith unto him, Yea, Lord I believe that
Thou art the Christ, the Son of God,
which should come into the world
Her resounding testimony is one of the few—and possibly one of the most powerful—testimonies of Christ that John included in his Gospel text.
Each of the Gospel writers documented that devout women remained beside Jesus at His cross and at the tomb (Matthew 27:55-56, 61; 28:1; Mark 15:40-41; 16:1; Luke 23:55-56; 24:1-10; John 19:25; 20:1). They also emphasized that these women were the first witnesses of the resurrection. Unfortunately, the social prejudice against women as reliable witnesses also affected the apostles. Initially they did not believe the women who ran from the empty tomb with the angel’s message that Jesus had risen (Matthew 28:5-6).
At first, trapped in their culture and fears, the apostles did not believe the women’s witness: “their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not” (Luke 24:11). In Mark’s Gospel, the women “neither said . . . any thing to any man” (Mark 16:8). Either the story was remembered that way, or they could not trust their witness. Even Jesus’ closest companions were originally entrenched in this cultural baggage.
John’s Gospel explains that the women’s account piqued Peter’s and John’s curiosity enough that they wanted to see for themselves. After the two men saw the empty tomb they returned to “their own home” (John 20:10). But Mary Magdalene could not leave yet; she stood next to the tomb weeping when the resurrected Lord appeared to her. How beautiful and empowering—especially with the cultural view of women—that Jesus chose a woman as His first witness of the miraculous resurrection! This moment is perhaps the most powerful example we have of the Lord tearing down the anti-female societal values of the time.
The Gospel of John honors Mary Magdalene as the first eyewitness of the resurrected Lord. According to John’s account, Jesus entrusted her with relaying His message, “go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God” (John 20:17).
This act alone demonstrates Jesus’ veneration of women, raising them to a place of legal standing and giving them a voice in His religious order. Combined with the other female witnesses of Jesus’ birth, ministry, death, and resurrection, we see the Lord championing women with opportunities and power. This legacy carried into the young apostolic church (which is the subject of the following 7 chapters).
In conclusion, Jesus’ example and teachings counteract social bigotry that inhibited human respect and family unity. The cultural baggage of the ancient worlds had not only caused a gulf between fellow humans, but also between humanity and God. The Lord shattered cultural restrictions and taught that all Christians should treat all humans equally. From the time of Jesus’ birth to the apostolic church, God elevated women and children to a place of dignity.
Question: How do you explain Peter and Paul’s misogyny?
Answer: Its chapters 4, 5, 6 and 7. And I’m also addressing it at Education Week.
Question: Can you offer any explanation for the apparently misogynstic [tradition?] of Paul in the books of Timothy and Corinthians?
Answer: Yeah, that’s all… this was just chapter one. You’ve got to come to Education Week or read the book – either one. You’ll get it either way.
Question: Why do you think we are segregated in our temple worship today?
Answer: Can we open it up? [laughs] You know the temple is my favorite place on earth, outside of my home. I love temples. And I can only think that it’s for the best for now. We are not segregated when we enter the Celestial Room. And it’s always one-on-one, isn’t it? Isn’t that the way the gospel is taught? The endowment room to me is just one-on-one. I don’t know. Sorry. Email me. [waves question card] We’ll continue the conversation.
Question: If Christ came and changed the role of women, why does the woman have to hearken to her husband, while her husband hearkens to the Lord?
Answer: Okay, guys, this is awesome! There is a brand new Bible translation that’s coming out. It came out last year for Genesis. It’s online. It’s called the Transparent Bible. So I’ve been talking to the authors of that translation, but I’ve also spoken to many other Hebrew scholars. My favorite, and I had this long, long, long email from him on this subject, comes from Genesis chapter 3, where we have a translation, and I probably should read it from the text, of that the men should… Adam should “rule over” Eve. And I said, you know, I have no problem with that. I’ve been blessed with a wonderful father, wonderful brothers, a magnificent husband. I have no problem working, cooperating, working together, making sure we are on the same page, because I’m sort of Type A, I’m sort of a CEO, and you know I’d sort of take over if it wasn’t for that. So for me it works out real well. But talking to these folks, these translators – and in this new translation, in the Transparent Bible translation, which actually I feel is hilarious, because it’s very literal. And so they call Adam “Soil Man”– things like that. It’s very, very literal. But they are trying to divorce themselves. They come from five different universities, and they are trying to divorce themselves from a theological framework. Because of course, King James is Calvanist, the bishops… Jerusalem Bible is Catholic. You know most of our biblical translations are that way. And since Jack Welch is in the room, I’d like to put in a plug for the new translation of the New Testament that he and his team have been working on for well over a decade that’s just about to come out (claps). I am so happy to have a Latter-day Saint translation of the New Testament. It’s going to be awesome. Now, Jack, get going on Genesis, as soon as you are done with that one.
But, so in chapter three, this “ruling over” is translated by this one group, as well as several other people I’ve been working on, in a way that says “work with”. And they said “over” is entirely appropriate if that is their theologic thrust. But you are to “work with your wife”, and you are to “rule with your wife” is even more literal, according to their reading of the text. So for whatever it’s worth, that’s how I take that one. Transparent Bible – just get online and type in the Transparent Bible of Genesis. It’s so funny. It keeps my institute kids awake at all hours of the night. It’s just awesome.
Question: If Christ came and changed the role of women, why does the woman have… Oh did that one.
To call a woman a dangerous temptress by default calls a man a weakling who can’t control himself. Oh wow! Why did I read that one? [To Scott] You shouldn’t have handed me that one!
Question: Was Jesus married? Had he a family?
Answer: Ask him.
Question: Is there any of your research that indicates Jesus was married?
Answer: Ask him.
Question: What are your thoughts on the women’s movement?
Answer: I’m not going to answer that one. The problem with all of this is I have had such fabulous men in my life. I have no, nothing on my shoulders to give me any angst. So even though I am totally in favor of equality and opportunities and everything like that, I don’t have any anger so I have a hard time speaking to those things because so much of it is addressed to anger. And besides my husband is in the room. (smiles)
Question: I could be wrong but can’t imagine Adam treating Eve as property.
Answer: Oh no, no, no. No, no, no. There is a clear change when the oral laws come into play in the last half of the second temple period. None of the things are mentioned in the Old Testament that we talked about. The only thing that is mentioned in the Old Testament is the fact that you have to divorce your wife if she is committing adultery. And you don’t sleep with her if she’s [in] menses, if she’s bleeding. But the rest of that stuff is all in the latter half and I think it came out of the Babylonian captivity. They built a wall – and that’s the phrase that the Jewish rabbis use – they built a wall around the Torah with these 10,000 oral laws. And they just confined and restricted. I think I’m out of time.
[Scott Gordon: Pick one more.]
Question: Do you know anything about Adam’s first wife, Lilith?
Answer: Sorry. I don’t. I picked the wrong question.
Question: Is there any evidence that fully covered women passed out from the heat?
Answer: Oh wow!! I would be… That… No, because women were not writing the stories. But if women had been literate, they would’ve written that letter and they would’ve said that they passed out from the heat. Can you imagine living in the Sinai Peninsula dressed like that? Wow! Anyway, thank you!
[Scott Gordon: Thank you very much.]
 John H. Elliott, Anchor Bible: 1 Peter (New York City, NY: Random House-Doubleday, 1964), 568. “As roles and status were gender-specific and clearly demarcated, so was the social space that was proper to males (public) and females (domestic, private).” Then he quoted Xenophon (c.430-353 BC), an Athenian soldier: “God from the first adapted the woman’s nature, I think, to the indoor and man’s to the outdoor tasks and cares. For he made the man’s body and mind more capable of enduring cold and heat, and journeys and campaigns; and therefore imposed on him the outdoor tasks. To the woman, God assigned the indoor tasks” (ibid., 569).
 Mishnah, Middot 2.5; also see Charlesworth, Jesus and Temple, 15.
 Geoffrey W. Bromiley, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, B.L. Bandstra and A.D. Verhey, “Sex,” 4. 431. To “avoid tempting another to immorality; thus they were veiled in public and segregated as much as possible from men. At the synagogues and Herod’s Temple they were excluded from the court of the men.”
 Judaeus Philo, Special Laws III., 7 vols. (London: William Heinemann, Ltd., 1967), 3.169, 171.
 Skolnik, Encyclopedia Judaica, 21:161.
 Philo, Philo’s Flaccus, 70.
 Philo of Alexandria, Pieter Willem van der Horst, trans., Philo’s Flaccus: The First Pogrom (Boston, MA: Brill, 2003), 70. Scholars refer to this time as the Hasmonean (140 BC to 37 BC) and Herodian (37 BC to AD 68).
 Leonard J. Swidler, Jesus was a Feminist: What the Gospels Reveal about His Revolutionary Perspective (Landham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007), 76. John Baggett, Seeing Through the Eyes of Jesus: His Revolutionary View of Reality and His Transcendent Significance for Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008), 128.
 Michael Avi-Yonah, “Synagogue Historical Roots,” Skolnik, Encyclopedia Judaica, 19. 364-366; also 354-355. In the diaspora there is evidence of “women [acting] as donors to the synagogues and participants within manumission ceremonies. In general, the climate within the diaspora seems to have been more conducive for allowing women to assume more active roles within the synagogue.” The New Testament mentions specific synagogues in Capernaum (Mark 1:21), Nazareth (Luke 4:16), Damascus (Acts 9:2), Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 13:14), Iconium (Acts 14:1), Thessalonica (Acts 17:1), Berea (Acts 17:10), Corinth (Acts 18:8), and Ephesus (Acts 18:19). In addition there were synagogues in Jerusalem for specific immigrants such as the synagogue of the Libertines, Cyrenians, and Alexandrians (Acts 6:9).
 Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus, 374. Archeologists found a lattice separation for gender in a Mesopotamian synagogue from AD 245. Between the third and seventh century, galleries were built to keep the women on separate floors from the men in addition to their separate entrance. Michael Avi-Yonah, “Synagogue Historical Roots,” Skolnik, Encyclopedia Judaica, 19. 364-366.
 Mishnah, Kiddushin, 4:13. Dan W. Clanton, The Good, the Bold, and the Beautiful (New York, NY: T & T Clark International, 2006), 23; “There is no firm evidence for women functionaries” in leadership roles. Most women were illiterate, but even those who could read were discouraged from reading the Law or Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy).
 As an example of the evolution of limitations placed on woman’s religious opportunities, we read in Deuteronomy 11:18-19, “Lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul. . . . And ye shall teach them your children.” But sometime before 132 BCE when the Greek Septuagint (LXX) translated this passage, they interpreted it as “you shall teach them to your sons.” Later still, after the destruction of the temple and the rabbinic schools took over Judaism, we read a commentary on these verses in Sifre Deuteronomy 46, “. . . your sons and not your daughters.” Different schools of thought debated how much religious law a father should teach his daughter as we will discuss in chapter 7, but all sons had the religious duty to learn the Torah.
 Ben Sira, Ecclesiasticus, 42:11. The Jewish code of law, or Mishnah, recorded an example of “a young maid [who] once went out to draw water from the spring and she was forced.” Mishnah, Ketuboth 1:10.
 Ben Witherington III, Grace in Galacia (London and NY: T&T Clark International, 2004), 271, credited to Rabbi Judah b. Elai (c. AD 150) in Berakoth 7:18 and Jer Berakoth 13b; and to Rabbi Meier (c. AD 150) in Bab Menahoth 43b. Jewish rabbis from the second century after Christ supposedly began their morning prayers by saying, “Blessed be He that He did not make me a Gentile; blessed be He that He did not make me a slave; blessed be He that He did not make me a woman.”
 Charles, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha,2.134. See page 4 in this book, and Evelyn and Frank Stagg, Woman in the World of Jesus (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1978), 34.
 Skolnik, Encyclopedia Judaica, 21:161
 Ben Sira, Ecclesiasticus, 26:14-15.
 Interestingly the Scripture records there were “five thousand men, beside women and children,” meaning that the women and children were allowed to be there by the Lord, but not counted by whoever recorded the event (Matthew 14:21; 15:38). This gives us a feel for the cultural practices that did not include women in their tallies.
 Julie Smith, “A Redemptive Reading of Mark 5:25-34,” Interpreter (2015). Smith skillfully argues that “the story of the woman with the hemorrhage of blood redeems the story of the fall of Eve by paralleling and then inverting that text.”
 Mishnah Gittin, 9.10; Yebamoth, 14.1.
 Their culture assumed that God sent death, illness, or deformities, because of sin (Job 20:11; Exodus 20:5; John 9:2; etc.). The opposite also held, that the righteous are spared pain. See footnotes 591, 592, 593 in this book.
 1 Samuel 1:17 also repeats this same promise given to another woman of great faith, Hannah. The high priest Eli prophesied of a forthcoming son as she prayed in the Tabernacle and then said, “Go in peace.” We can find many parallels between Luke’s birth narratives and Hannah’s account. Brown, Birth, 335, 357.
 Mishnah, Avoth 1:5. In 1963 Philip Blackman translated the same passage “engage not in much gossip with womankind.” The text of the Mishnah varies significantly with different translators.
 Ben Sira, Ecclesiasticus, 26:14-15. Ben Sira’s request for silence may be literal, but just as likely, it may refer to a wife who did not speak against her husband, but honored his will.
 Mishnah, Ketuboth 1:8. “If they saw her speaking with some man in the street and said to her, ‘What manner of man is this?’ [and she answered], ‘His name is NN and he is a priest,’… R. Joshua says: We must not rely on her word, but she must be presumed to have suffered intercourse . . . unless she can bring proof for her words.”
 Babylonian Talmud, Nedarim. 20a. The Talmud postdates the New Testament but is occasionally cited as an example of the ripple effect that earlier thinking had on Judaism over time. It gives evidence of how the prohibitions of communication spread to extreme conclusions.
 Mishnah, Avoth 1:5.
 Jerusalem Talmud, Sotah. 7.1, 21b.
 The imagery of water is also poignant because water was a most critical issue in Palestine—politically, socially, and physically. The availability of water governed many of life’s decisions. In this story, it appears that there was plenty of water in the well and Eastern hospitality ensured service, even by a woman in Samaria.
 Tensions arose between northern and southern Israel dating back to King Solomon’s death and split of the kingdom. Problems flared up worse than ever after the Babylonian captivity. Ezra 4:1-4 and Nehemiah 2:19-20 explain that the Jews returning from their Babylonian captivity refused the Samaritans’ help to rebuild the temple. Zerubbabel’s team turned away the Samaritans who had no proper genealogical evidence of Levitical descent. In retribution, the Samaritans conspired with the foreign overlords to prevent the Jews from rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, reconstructing the city, and rebuilding the temple. Samaritans retaliated by claiming the Jews apostatized and built their own temple on Mount Gerizim (2,890 feet) near their capital city, Shechem, in the fourth century BC (around the time of Alexander the Great). In 128 BC, any hope of healing their rift was shattered by the Jewish retribution. Under orders from the high priest, John Hyrcanus, Jewish activists destroyed the Samaritan Temple on Mount Gerizim and captured the city of Shechem. The demolition of the temple on Mount Gerizim could not have been more offensive. For more information on the return from Babylon, see appendix 1.
 This raises the interesting question of whether or not Jesus considered the Samaritans part of the tribe of Israel. He told the gentile Syrophoenician woman that His mission was to preach only to Israelites (Matthew 15:26-27; Mark 7:26-28; Luke 16:20-22), yet John 4:42 says that the Lord’s first community of followers were Samaritans.
 Note that the woman mentioned Jacob—one of the patriarchs. This is in keeping with Samaritan belief that accepted the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), but not many of the Old Testament prophets. The Samaritans’ core beliefs came from the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) and were handed down orally:
- Belief in one God.
- Moses as the greatest and final, or “seal,” of the prophets
- The Torah as the word of God, and rejection of all else as Scripture
- Mt Gerizim as the chosen place for God’s Temple.
- Expectations of a final day of rewards for the righteous and punishment for the wicked.
Bruce W. Hall, Samaritan religion from John Hyrcanus to Baba Rabba: A Critical Examination of the Relevant Material in Contemporary Christian literature, the writings of Josephus, and the Mishnah (Sydney, Australia: Mandelbaum Trust, University of Sydney, 1987), 270. Other scholars add a sixth tenet that includes appearance at the end of time of a “Restorer” who would appear to usher in a new dispensation, teach the law, and restore the proper modes of worship. Kent Jackson, and Robert Millet, Studies in Scriptures: The Gospels (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1986), 5.205.
 See chapter 6 of this book under “Divorce.”
 Bromiley, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, “Sex,” 4.431.
 Mishnah, Ketuboth, 5:5.
 Ken Campbell, ed., Marriage and Family in the Biblical World (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 2003), 232.
 Philo, Yonge, trans., 138. Philo recounted the patriarch Judah’s reverie on a virtuous woman: “Perhaps then, according to my prayer, she is truly a virtuous mind, a citizen wife, excelling in modesty, and chastity, and all other virtues, cleaving to one husband alone, being content with the administration of one household, and rejoicing in the authority of one husband.” Ironically, Philo has these words coming out of Judah’s mouth in reference to Tamar, after Judah mistook her for a harlot and slept with her, making nearly every statement incongruous. The story screams of a double standard for men and women.
 Ben Sira, Ecclesiasticus, 44-50. A discriminatory attitude grew stronger throughout the period of the Second Temple. Throughout the entire apocryphal book of Ecclesiasticus we find praises for male Old Testament heroes without mentioning the noble women in their past. Yet in the Old Testament we find many positive relationships between men and women—like Job giving his three daughters gifts of inheritance (Job 42:15; also see Numbers 27:7). But that changed as we draw closer to the time that surrounded the New Testament. M. Jack Suggs, Katharine Doob Sakenfeld, James R. Mueller, eds., The Oxford Study Bible: Revised English Bible with the Apocrypha, 2nd Ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992).
 Philo, A Volume of Questions and Solutions to Questions which arise in Genesis, I.29. In the same volume, Philo describes the creation of Adam and Eve: “God, when first of all he made the intellect, called it Adam, after that he created the outward sense, to which he gave the name of Life [Eve]” (I.53). He felt man was the intellect and woman the senses.
 Ben Sira, Ecclesiasticus, 36:26.
 Ibid., 26.26.
 Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, I.1.4.
 Ben Sira, Ecclesiasticus, 33:20, 23; “Give not to son or wife, brother or friend, power over thee while thou livest; . . . In all thy works keep the pre-eminence.”
 Ibid., 42:14. Also statements like, “As long as thou livest, and hast breath in thee, let no man change thee.” Yet on the other hand, we also find in the same text, statements that praise humility, “The greater thou art, the more humble thyself, and thou shalt find favour before the Lord” (3:18, 21).
 Ibid., 26.25; “A headstrong wife is regarded as a dog.” Submission was often tied with remaining silent—see page 28.
 Josephus, Against Apion, II. 25. Neusner, ed., Judaism in the Biblical Period, 676. Furthermore, the “biblical society was defined in terms of its male members as indicated by the census in Exodus 20, and in Numbers 1 and 26, which counted adult males but no women or children” (673). Censuses were often taken to know the military potential or tax base.
 Josephus, Against Apion, II. 25.
 Mishnah, Ketuboth 1:8. See chapter 6.
 Mishnah, Sotah, 3.4. Rabbi Eliezer spoke out against educating women more than most rabbis, perhaps because he suffered under the tongue of his well-educated wife. His wife was the sister of the leader of the Sanhedrin, Gamaliel. It is feasible that in that wealthy home, young girls were educated too, or else they may have had the opportunity to overhear lessons. The Talmud mentioned a few females who learned the oral laws. Wirtherington, Women and the Genesis of Christianity, 7.
 Witherington, Women and the Genesis of Christianity, 4.
 Beryl Rawson, ed., The Family in Ancient Rome: New Perspectives (Ithica, NY: Cornell University Press, 1987), 36. See chapter 6 of this book.
 Mishnah, Ketuboth, 3.8.
 Judith Lynn Sebesta, Larissa Bonfante, The World of Roman Costume (Madison, WI: University Press, 2001), 8. “Dress serves to distinguish friend and foe in war and in peace; divine and imperial figures, wife, prostitute, and defeated barbarian mother with child.”
 Skolnik, Encyclopedia Judaica, 21.161.
 Judith Lynn Sebesta, Larissa Bonfante, The World of Roman Costume (Madison, WI: University Press, 2001), 155, 186. Also see chapter 6 of this book on “Divorce.”
 Philo, Yonge, trans., 817. Philo described the head covering as a “symbol of modesty, which all those women are accustomed to wear who are completely blameless.” This quote is in Philo’s discussion of Numbers 5:18, dealing with a woman accused of adultery. Nearly two centuries before the time of the Lord, Ben Sira surmised that he could determine if a woman had broken the law of chastity by the only part of the body unexposed: “The fornication of a woman shall be known by the haughtiness of her eyes, and by her eyelids” (Ecclesiasticus, 26:12, Douay-Rheims Bible).
 Sebesta and Bonfante, The World of Roman Costume, 186.
 Jeremias, Jerusalem, 359. We get a feel for how much of a woman was veiled in a story of a pious woman named Qimhit, who claimed to keep her head covered even in the house as a sign of her uprightness: “May it (this and that) befall me if the beams of my house have ever seen the hair of my head.” Ibid., 360.
 Jeremias, Jerusalem, 359. “It was said that once, for example, a chief priest in Jerusalem did not recognize his own mother when he had to carry out against her the prescribed process for a woman suspected of adultery.”
 Babylonian Talmud, Nedarim, 2.4, 58c. “R. Josiah said: He who gazes at a woman eventually comes to sin, and he who looks even at a woman’s heel will beget degenerate children.” Another translation reads, “He that looks upon a woman’s heel is guilty of an act of lewdness.” This led to the counsel for men never to walk behind a woman—even if she were his wife—in case he might “see her heels.” Talmud, Berakot, 61a.
 Sebesta and Bonfante, The World of Roman Costume, 186, “Women of Arabia may go out veiled, and women of Medea with their cloaks looped over their shoulders.”
 Jeremias, Jerusalem, 362; “there is no indication that the custom of wrapping up the head was observed as strictly in the country as in the town.”
 Mishnah, Nashim: Sotah, 3. 8. “How does a man differ from a woman? He may go with his hair unbound and with garments rent, but she may not go with hair unbound and with garments rent.”
 Luke is the only Gospel to tell this story, although shortly before Jesus’ death the other three Gospels tell of Mary anointing Jesus in Bethany with pure nard, and wiping His feet with her hair (see John 12:1-8; Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9).
 Craig Keener, 1–2 Corinthians (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 92.
 In Greek, “servant” is the same word as “doulos / slave, bondman, man of servile condition,” and similarly a female servant or handmaid, was a “doule / female slave, bondmaid” (see John 15:15; Luke 1:38). See chapter 8.
 See chapter 7.
 Clothing also took on emblematic meaning for the afterlife as John the Revelator described “white robes” given to those who died as martyrs of truth (Revelation 6:11; 7:9, 13-14). The white robe represented their purity by “wash[ing] their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 9:14). And Isaiah described, “[God] hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10). These clothes empower one with immortality.
 David A. Bednar, “The Atonement and the Journey of Mortality” Ensign (April 2012).
 Josephus, Antiquities, IV.8:15. Encyclopedia Judaica, 21.161. However, there are exceptions to this standard. “For example, rabbinic literature excludes women altogether as witnesses in a court of law. . . . In the Second Temple period, however, women apparently did serve in such a capacity. For example, one Dead Sea Sect text suggests that wives were encouraged to give evidence against their husbands in the Sect’s tribunal (1Qsa 1 10-11).” Jewish Women A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia, Tal Ilan, “Post-Biblical and Rabbinic Women,” jwa.org/encyclopedia.
 Mishnah, Shebuoth, 4:1, interpreted Leviticus 5:1 as “[The law about] ‘an oath of testimony’ applies to men but not to women.”
 Josephus, Antiquities, IV.8:15. The full quote reads: “But let not a single witness be credited, but three, or two at the least, and those such whose testimony is confirmed by their good lives. But let not the testimony of women be admitted, on account of the levity and boldness of their sex. Nor let servants be admitted to give testimony, on account of the ignobility of their soul; since it is probable that they may not speak truth, either out of hope of gain, or fear of punishment.”
 Mishnah, Ketuboth 1.7 also 1.6. This example was not recorded until after the time of the New Testament.
 David Noel Freedman, ed., Eerdman’s Dictionary of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s Publishing, 2000), 859. A second century Bishop, Papias, claimed that Mark was “Peter’s interpreter,” according to the Roman Church historian Eusebius (AD 263 -340). For centuries, Christian tradition taught that the Gospel of Mark was actually Peter’s message recorded by Mark while he was with Peter imprisoned in Rome. Biblical scholars debate this theory now.