Jeni Broberg Holzapfel and Richard Neitzel Holzapfel. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1993. Softbound, 6×9″, 203 pages.
In a day when many voices are clamoring for attention on women’s issues, women–and men–of the modern Church can benefit from a close look at Jesus’ teachings to and treatment of women. How did his approach to women differ from that of his contemporaries? What lessons in discipleship can all Saints learn from the examples of stalwarts such as Elisabeth, Mary Magdalene, and Mary, the mother of Jesus?
Drawing upon their extensive background in ancient history and New Testament studies, the authors not only examine Jesus’ teachings to and about women but also discuss the women specificallly mentioned in the four gospels and their relationship to the first-century world in which they lived. Some of the characteristics of that world are quite shocking by modern standards: Greco-Roman influences gave women who lived in Jesus’ time an essentially inferior and often degraded status; and ancient Jewish culture was broadly exclusionary toward women, who, for example, were not to read the scriptures in the synagogue on the Sabbath and were discouraged by rabbinical injunction from being taught the Tora. Jesus thus emerges as a true “revolutionary” in all the positive sense of that word.
As the authros point out, “We are left with the clear impression that to Jesus the intrinsic value of women is equal to that of men–an idea found nowhere else in the society of his day.” That the ancient male writers of the Gospels would leave such a clear impression is a testimony to the divinity of Jesus and of the message to which his followers bore witness.
Sisters at the Well is a reminder to all Saints that God sees men and women as individuals equally deserving of his love and attention.