Insightful but Flawed Look at Gospel Women -- By: Owen D. Strachan

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 15:1 (Spring 2010)
Article: Insightful but Flawed Look at Gospel Women
Author: Owen D. Strachan


Insightful but Flawed Look at Gospel Women

A Review of Richard Bauckham, Gospel Women: Studies of the Named Women in the Gospels. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002. 364 pp. $25.00

Owen D. Strachan

Managing Director
Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding
Assistant Director, Jonathan Edwards Center
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Deerfield, Illinois

Richard Bauckham, emeritus professor of New Testament studies and Bishop Wardlaw Professor at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, is a recognized expert in New Testament studies, having written well-regarded works on Revelation, the New Testament canon, and the testimony about Jesus.

Bauckham published his Gospel Women eight years ago. The text takes shape in eight chapters that generally tackle the role the named women of the Gospels played in the events of their day, though the chapters meander into other discussions—extrabiblical literature, the veracity of the Gospel accounts, and the structure of the texts, among others.

Chapter one covers how Ruth functions as a “Key to Gynocentric Reading of Scripture.” Bauckham expresses appreciation for feminist scholarship, which in his judgment has “made the women in the Gospels visible simply by attending to the evidence of the texts that generations of male scholars had (to put it charitably) not found very interesting or had not thought significant enough to deserve their labors” (xiii). Bauckham’s study is clearly a needed one.

Bauckham notes that his essays are “quite eclectic” and signals his intention to engage both “intertextuality” and “the distinction between androcentric and gynocentric perspectives in narratives,” which seem a good deal less obvious than Bauckham thinks (xvii, xix). His study, he says, has caused him to realize that while “the Gospels are primarily the story of Jesus,” they also comprise “the stories of many individuals who encountered him and followed him” (xvii).

From there, Bauckham proceeds to analyze the “Gentile Foremothers of the Messiah” in chapter two. He looks into possible reasons for the inclusion of Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and the wife of Uriah in the genealogy of Matt 1:1-17. He concludes the chapter by noting that Jesus functions as a New Joshua to the Canaanite woman of Matthew 15 and Mark 7, a nice theological insight (44-46).

In chapter three, Bauckham looks at Elizabeth and Mary from Luke 1. He argues that Luke 1:5-80 is, contrary to many of Scripture’s “andocentri...

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