Reason #6 The Importance of Female Testimony in the Resurrection Record
A motive of simple truthfulness is evidenced in the biblical narratives of Jesus’ resurrection by the important role women played in these accounts at a time in history when women were not considered equal with men in intelligence or reliability. In the 100s A.D., the Christians were mocked, predictably, for following a religion based on the word of a “hysterical female” (Celsus, as quoted by Origen). We have many ancient Roman and rabbinic documents which refer to women much as they refer to children with respect to their legal rights and intelligence. Therefore, it would have been a somewhat scandalous breach of cultural norms for early Christian teachers to rely heavily on the testimony of women while introducing others to their new religion. But this is what they did anyway.
So if the objective of the early Christian leaders was to make up a religion that would impress their skeptical first-century neighbors, then featuring the testimony of women would have surely had the opposite effect. If, however, their purpose was simple truthfulness, then the endorsement of female testimony would have been only right, even if that testimony was considered culturally offensive and somewhat damaging to their case. If it was the real intention of the Gospel writers to fabricate the kind of tale that would convince their neighbors to believe in the resurrection then, surely, they would not have featured women in that tale.
The emphasis on female testimony in the narrative of Jesus’ resurrections, in the midst of the anti-female cultural sentiment of the first century, strongly indicates that the real intention of the ancient Gospel writers was simply to relay what happened, and not to fabricate the kind of tale that would convince their skeptical neighbors to believe.
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