Four Females Who Encounter Jesus -- By: J. Lyle Story

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 23:4 (Autumn 2009)
Article: Four Females Who Encounter Jesus
Author: J. Lyle Story


Four Females Who Encounter Jesus

J. Lyle Story

J. LYLE STORY is a Professor of New Testament and Biblical Languages of the School of Divinity of Regent University. He has taught at Regent University for the last twenty-five years, possesses special passion for the message of the four gospels, and has produced the Greek to Me Memory System (textbook, flash cards, and multimedia CD-ROM).

Amid many texts in the gospels that provide more lengthy interactions of women with Jesus, there are four brief stories, often overlooked, that express Jesus’ concern for women. Jesus provides healing or life, particularly for those in an unclean status, expressed through the language of the taboo. In the first three contexts, the person is in an unclean status either due to the loss of blood, having an unclean spirit, or being in the sphere of death. The last story notes the male objection of the synagogue official with respect to the time of the woman’s healing; she lives in the sphere of the unclean (“having an unclean spirit,” Luke 13:11) and is exorcised/healed “on the Sabbath.” In each situation, Jesus is unresponsive to the objections concerning religious and social taboos; he abrogates such distinctions and critiques.

Jairus’s daughter and the woman with the
hemorrhage (Mark 5:21-43 par.)

There are two miraculous encounters with females in this paragraph, expressed through a beginning (Mark 5:21-24a), interruption (vv. 24b–34), and sequel (vv. 35-43).

Jairus’s daughter is present for the agonized and desperate plea of her father, a local synagogue president. He requests that Jesus lay his hands upon the girl in order to heal her. Jairus underscores her desperate condition through the expression “at the point of death.” This daughter comes from the highest rung of the Jewish social and religious ladder, while the interrupting narrative informs the reader of a nameless woman who stands on the lowest Jewish rung: she is religiously unclean, discouraged, socially and religiously ostracized, and financially destitute. Bonnie Thurston notes,

[T]he woman is marginalized on four counts. She is female, without a male relative to be her advocate (we know this because she is not identified by male kin), without financial resources (she has spent her money on doctors—first-century gynecologists?) (v. 26), and she is subject to the blood taboo. Leviticus 15:19-30 sets out the limitations on menstruati...

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