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Women Near the Cross

I read Matthew 27:55–56 this morning and saw something I had not noticed before. There were many women at Jesus’ crucifixion—many (Greek: pollai).[1] I had previously imagined that only a few women had accompanied Jesus and made the trip all the way from Galilee to Jerusalem, usually a journey of several days.

Many women were in this group, but in each of the four Gospels only three women near the cross are identified.

~ Matthew identifies Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph (or, Joses), and the unnamed mother of the sons of Zebedee.

~ Mark, in his parallel account, lists Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph (or, Joses), and Salome.[2] And like Matthew, Mark adds that many other women (allai pollai) from Galilee were near the cross with them (Mark 15:40–41 cf. Mark 16:1).

~ John also lists three women: Jesus’ mother, her sister Mary, the wife of Clopas,[3] and Mary Magdalene (John 19:25).

~ Luke does not mention women at the cross, but at the tomb, both before and after the resurrection. Luke also identifies just three: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother, or wife, of James, but he notes that there were many other women with them (Luke 23:55–56 cf. 24:9–10).[4]

Mary Magdalene is the only woman included in each list.

Travelling Town to Town

Earlier in his Gospel, Luke had mentioned certain women who had accompanied Jesus and the Twelve during Jesus’ itinerant teaching and healing ministry.[5] In Luke 8:1–3, he wrote that women travelled with Jesus and provided for him out of their own resources. Here Luke again identifies just three of the women—Mary Magdalene, Joanna the wife of Chuza, and Susanna—but adds that there were many other women (heterai pollai) in this group.

Many women were dedicated followers of Jesus during his ministry on earth. Some of these women seem to have been independent of fathers and husbands and were independently wealthy.[6] These women, like the male disciples, had left everything to follow Jesus. They had left their families and the relative comfort of their homes and put their wealth at the disposal of Jesus’ mission. They travelled in rough conditions and seemingly disregarded cultural conventions in order to faithfully follow and serve their Lord.

There is little doubt Jesus welcomed these women and valued their ministry, including their ministry of being his witnesses to the people of Israel and beyond (Acts 13:30–31).

Jesus’ Female Disciples

A close reading of the Gospels reveals that at least some of the many women who followed Jesus were his disciples even though the Gospel writers never plainly call them “disciples” (cf. Acts 9:36). [The Greek words for disciple in the New Testament are mathētēs (masculine) and mathētria (feminine).]

We have seen that some of Jesus’ female followers had given up everything to follow Jesus. These women fulfilled the criterium for discipleship given in Luke 14:33: “In the same way, therefore, every one of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.“[7]

Female Disciples in Matthew 12:46–50

Matthew 12:46–50 mentions female disciples.

While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Italics added.)

Kenneth Bailey comments on this text.

In our Middle Eastern cultural context, a speaker who gestures to a crowd of men can say, “Here are my brother, and uncle and cousin.” He cannot say, “Here are my brother, and sister, and mother.” The text specifically affirms that Jesus is gesturing to “his disciples” whom he addresses with male and female terms. This communicates to the reader that the disciples before him were composed of men and women.[8]

Women Discipled by Jesus

Matthew 27:55–56 is one of the passages cited above that mentions the many women from Galilee who were witnesses to Jesus’s crucifixion. In the following verse, we hear about Joseph of Arimathea. Using the verb mathēteuō it says that he was also discipled by Jesus, or as the CSB translates this phrase, he “had also become a disciple of Jesus” (Matt. 27:57). Is Matthew saying that Joseph of Arimathea was also discipled by Jesus like the women?

There are several passages in the Gospels that show Jesus taught and discipled women, and he included illustrations in his teachings that women could identify with.

Mary and Martha and their Teacher

In Luke 10:39, we are told that Mary of Bethany was sitting at the feet of Jesus; she was taking the position of a disciple learning from their rabbi (cf. Acts 22:3 KJV). Mary was behaving just as a male disciple would behave and  Jesus emphatically commended her decision to sit at his feet and to listen and learn what he was saying (Luke 10:42).[9]

In a different story, Martha tells Mary that Jesus has arrived in town. Martha says, “The Teacher (didaskalos) is here” (John 11:28). John had previously explained in his Gospel that didaskalos (a Greek word) is a translation of rabbi (a Hebraic word) (John 1:38). Jesus was their teacher, their rabbi. Mary and Martha were his students, his disciples.

Galilean Women Who Heard and Remembered

In Luke’s Gospel, the angels say to the Galilean women at Jesus’ tomb,

“He is not here; he has risen! Remember how [Jesus] told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again’” (Luke 24:6–7, italics added.)

This is followed by, “Then they remembered [Jesus’] words” (Luke 24:8, italics added.) We are told that Jesus had only told his disciples what would happen to him; it is apparent that women were among these disciples. (See Matt. 16:21; 17:22–23; 20:17–29; Mark 8:31; 9:30–32; Luke 9:22; 17:25; 18:33–34.) These female disciples included Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and others.

Mary Magdalene and her Master-Teacher

Finally, in John 20:16, there is a touching scene between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. They speak together and Mary calls Jesus “Rabboni” which is Aramaic for “my master-teacher.”[10] Mary Magdalene was one of Jesus’ closest female disciples.

Jesus’ Female Friends

Jesus did not shy away from female company. He had several, perhaps many, female friends, women such as Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, Salome, and Martha and Mary of Bethany. And he continually showed kindness and respect to the many other women he encountered during his ministry.

I’ve often pictured Jesus roaming around Galilee with just the Twelve, but on several occasions, at the very least, there were many women with him also. How many is many? 10, 20, 30, 40, or more? Did the women disciples outnumber the men? We can only speculate as to how many women were among Jesus’ followers (cf. Acts 1:13–14).[11] One thing is certain, throughout the last two millennia, many more women have continued to follow Jesus and serve him. And Jesus continues to welcome their company and value their ministry.


Footnotes

[1] “Many women”: The Greek word here, pollai, is the feminine plural form of polus. This word means “much,” “many,” “plentiful,” etc. Perhaps some of these many women were at the dinner with Levi, along with many tax collectors and sinners, where we learn that many people were following Jesus (Mark 2:15).

[2] Salome: The identity of Salome is unclear and debated. Even though she is listed with the name “Salome” only in Mark’s Gospel (Mark 15:40–41 & 16:1), some believe she is also mentioned in either Matthew’s or John’s lists of the woman at the cross, By comparing the lists, it has been suggested that Salome is the mother of the sons of Zebedee (James and John) in Matthew 27:55–56. Others suggest she is the sister of Jesus’ mother mentioned in John 19:25, Mary the wife of Clopas, an aunt of Jesus. Still others believe that the Salome in Mark’s list may have been one of Jesus’ sisters. Salome was a popular name for first-century Jewish women, and a disciple of Jesus named Salome is mentioned in several apocryphal Christian documents. I have written more on Salome, here.

[3] Mary the Wife of Clopas: The grammar rules in ancient Greek about making lists are different from English rules. In Greek, you have either lists with a conjunction such as kai (“and”) between every (main) item, or you have no connective between any (main) item. (This basic explanation ignores a few complexities.) Because of the kai, twice, in John 19:25, there are most likely three people in this list, not four: Mary, the wife of Clopas, is the sister (or perhaps cousin or sister-in-law) of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ
The mother of him
καὶ ἡ ἀδελφὴ τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ, Μαρία ἡ τοῦ Κλωπᾶ
and the sister of his mother, Mary the wife of Clopas
καὶ Μαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνή.
and Mary the Maddalene.

The Two on the Road to Emmaus: Some speculate that Mary and her husband Clopas were the two on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13–33, esp. Luke 24:18). But for three reasons, I have doubts about this idea.
First, Luke often highlighted male-female pairs in his Gospel, but he gives no indication whatsoever that the travelling partner of Cleopas was female. Perhaps they were brothers or friends.
Second, Κλεοπᾶς-Cleopas (Luke 24:18), which seems to be a contraction of the Alexandrian Greek name Κλεοπατρος, and Κλωπᾶς-Clopas (John 19:25), which seems to be Aramaic in origin, could be two unrelated names belonging to two different men.
[To complicate things further, it is frequently suggested that Mary of Clopas, mentioned in John 19:25, was the mother of James and Joses. (This idea comes from comparing the similar lists of women in Matthew 27:56, Mark 15:40, and Luke 24:10.) In Matthew 10:3, however, we are told that James was the son of a man named Alphaeus, not Clopas. This has led to the idea, often repeated in commentaries, that Clopas and Alphaeus are variations of the same Aramaic name תַלְפַי.]
Third, Mary of Clopas was at the cross and, if she was the mother of James and Joses, she was also among the women at the empty tomb (Matt. 28:1; Mark 15:40, 47; 16:1; Luke 24:1, 10). But Cleopas does not speak about the testimony of these women as though his travelling companion was among them. He tells Jesus,

“In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus” (Luke 24:22–24).

Nothing in Luke 24:13–35 hints that Cleopas was travelling with a woman, let alone a woman who had seen the empty tomb and heard the angels’ message of the resurrection for herself.

Clopas’s Son Symeon: According to Eusebius, after the death of James (Jesus’s brother and the first overseer of the church in Jerusalem) a man named Symeon, who is identified as the son of Clopas, became the second overseer in Jerusalem. Not only was Symeon’s mother related to the mother of Jesus (John 19:25), Clopas may have been the brother of Joseph. Eusebius states, “He [Symeon] was a cousin, as they say, of the Saviour. For Hegesippus records that Clopas was a brother of Joseph.” (Eusebius, Church History, 3.11.2) Whether Hegesippus is correct, is debatable. Eusebius further notes that, when he was 120 years old, Symeon was tortured and martyred for his Christian faith. (Eusebius, Church History, 3.32.1–4)

[4] The named women were eyewitnesses of Jesus’ death and burial (entombment); named women were also the first witnesses of his resurrection (cf. Deut. 19:15). Richard Bauckham suggests the variations between the lists are because the Gospel writers “were careful to name precisely the women who were known to them as witnesses to these crucial events in the origins of the Christian movement …” Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony, Second Edition (Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2006), 51. (Google Books)

[5] In reference to Luke 8:1–3, Dorothy Lee notes that Jesus’s “companions fall into two parallel groups: the Twelve and the Galilean women.” Dorothy A. Lee, The Ministry of Women in the New Testament: Reclaiming the Biblical Vision for Church Leadership (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2021), 47.

[6] “Whether as unmarried women or widows, or as married women operating independently of their household system, the women are present in the itinerant band of Jesus’ followers.” John T. Carroll, Luke: A Commentary (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2012), 182.

[7] Both Luke 8:3 and Luke 14:33 contain a neuter plural participle of hyparchō meaning “possessions/ belongings” (cf. Luke 12:33).

[8] Kenneth Bailey, “Women in the New Testament: A Middle Eastern Cultural View,” Theology Matters, 6.1 (Jan–Feb 2000): 2. (This paper can be read online here.)

[9] Mary and her sister Martha were not Galilean; they lived in Bethany near Jerusalem and may have hosted Jesus many times. (Mary of Bethany is often confused with Mary Magdalene in early Christian documents.)

[10] Rabboni (or rabbouni) is the Aramaic/ Hebraic word rabbon plus a suffix that mean “my.” Rabbon is the highest title of honour for a teacher in Jewish schools. Wesley Perschbacher, The New Analytical Greek Lexicon (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1990), 361.

[11] I suggest, based on numbers we have from churches throughout the centuries, that perhaps half of the 120 in the upper room were women. Jesus had many female followers!

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Postscript: More disciples than just the Twelve

Some readers have baulked at the idea that Jesus had more disciples than the Twelve, let alone female disciples. But Jesus had many more disciples while he was on earth than the twelve disciples who are listed in Matthew 10:1–4, Mark 3:14–18, Luke 6:13–16 and Acts 1:13.  His twelve (male) disciples are usually referred to in the Gospels as either the “Twelve” or the “twelve disciples”, or less specifically, as “disciples,” and, apart from Judas Iscariot, they would have a special role as being witnesses of Jesus. However, the word “disciples” can also refer to a larger group of devoted followers who were trained by Jesus.

Luke indicates that Jesus chose the Twelve from this larger group of disciples: “When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles” (Luke 6:13). A few verses later Luke refers to a large crowd of disciples who had come to listen to Jesus (Luke 6:17f).

In John’s Gospel, the word “disciple(s)” occurs frequently but only a few people are identified as disciples. One of these is Joseph of Arimathea (John 19:38).

Some disciples are named in the New Testament, others like the person in Matthew 8:21 are not. Some disciples stopped following Jesus (John 6:66) but many stayed true. And a crowd of presumably more than twelve disciples enthusiastically welcomed Jesus when he entered Jerusalem a few days before his crucifixion (Luke 19:37, 39).

Furthermore, Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias, who we don’t hear anything of except in Acts 1, must have been disciples of Jesus. Matthias replaced Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:23–26). Also in Acts, Ananias (a man) and Dorcas/ Tabitha (a woman) are plainly called disciples (Acts 9:10, 36).

The author of Acts refers to many people as disciples. The word may be used in a less technical sense in Acts than in the Gospels. Nevertheless, Jesus had many disciples, and some of them were women. Jesus even had more than twelve apostles.

In an address titled “Women at the Service of the Gospel,” dated February 14th, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI stated,

Jesus, as we know, certainly chose from among his disciples 12 men as Fathers of the new Israel and appointed them “to be with him, and to be sent out to preach” (Mk 3: 14-15). This fact is obvious; but, in addition to the Twelve, pillars of the Church and fathers of the new People of God, many women were also chosen to number among the disciples. I can only mention very briefly those who followed Jesus himself, beginning with the Prophetess Anna (cf. Lk 2: 36-38), to the Samaritan woman (cf. Jn 4: 1-39), the Syro-Phoenician woman (cf. Mk 7: 24-30), the woman with the haemorrhage (cf. Mt 9: 20-22) and the sinful woman whose sins were forgiven (cf. Lk 7: 36-50). (Vatican source)

Image

Excerpt of The Three Marys at the Tomb by Peter Cornelius, painted between 1815 and 1822. Public Domain (Wikimedia)


Explore more

Partnering Together: Jesus and Women
Jesus, Women and Theology: “Jesus said to her …”
Who was Mary the Magdalene?
The Other Mary: Mother of James and Joseph
Martha, Mary and Lazarus of Bethany
Salome: Follower of Jesus and Myrrh Bearer
Were there Women at the Last Supper?
The Samaritan Woman of Sychar (John 4)
Junia, the Jewish woman imprisoned with Paul
25 Biblical Roles for Biblical Women
Who will roll away the stone?
Was Jesus Poor?
A quick look at the Greek word for “follow”

artigos em portugues sobre igualdade entre homens e mulheres no lar e na igreja

30 thoughts on “Jesus had many female followers – many!

  1. And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him. 28 But Jesus turning unto them said , Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.

  2. Thanks for this, Judy. I’m wondering, though, whether Jesus said this to his own female followers, who were mostly from Galilee, or whether he said this to other, local women who had come to see the spectacle of the cross. I can’t see that Jesus would tell his female disciples to weep for their children. Perhaps the women from Jerusalem were professional wailers (Luke 23:27ff). Later in chapter 23, Luke singles out the women from Galilee. These women were at the cross but stayed clear of the ruckus, and they later prepared Jesus’ body (Luke 23:49, 55-56). Just a couple of thoughts.

    Another thought: Considering that there were many women who accompanied Jesus during his earthly mission as disciples, I think it entirely likely that some of these women were among the 72 in Luke 10:1ff.

  3. I think it entirely likely that some of these women were among the 72 in Luke 10:1ff.

    I have ALSO wondered about that…not much attention is given to the 72…

  4. Me too! I believe there were likely women among the 72. Jesus stopped to teach women like the woman at the well and the Syrophoenician woman, and his parables always included the women. Of course there were women who wanted to follow Jesus!

  5. Marg, I know this is an older post, but I want to comment on it. I was reading the end of Luke today, and wondered about the unnamed disciple with Cleopas. On a side note, Cleopas is another example of another disciple in addition to the twelve disciples (and the unnamed person is also called a disciple). I read in your notes that you don’t think the unnamed disciple is Cleopas’s wife. But I am wondering if it’s possible that the unnamed disciple really is his wife. Assuming that Cleopas and Clopas is the same person, then Clopas’s wife was at the cross.

    1. It’s not impossible that Cleopas (Κλεoπας) and Clopas (Κλωπας) are the same person. But if they are, why is Mary, the wife of Clopas, mentioned among the group of Galilean women in John 19:25 with no mention of her husband? And if she was at the cross, was she not also among the Galilean women who went to the tomb and who discovered that Jesus was alive?

      I can’t imagine that Mary would have been downcast or sad (Luke 24:17b) on the very same day (Luke 24:13) that she had seen angels and been told by them that Jesus was alive (Luke 24:1-10). I imagine she would have been excited and hopeful.

      Luke 24:11 indicates that the men didn’t believe the women’s report, and Cleopas sounds unconvinced (Luke 24:22-24). But if Mary of Clopas was among the women, she would have known the report to be 100% true.

      All in all, I can’t quite connect the dots between Clopas and Cleopas.

      Also, the Greek word for “disciples” doesn’t actually occur in Luke 24, which is why I didn’t include Cleopas and his companion in my postscript. But they were probably disciples.

  6. I never realized that Jesus could have had female disciples! It always makes me thankful to think about how much Jesus valued and respected women. There is one thing I am wondering about though. I know Jesus told the twelve to preach, but do you think all of His disciples would have preached? I ask because I recently heard someone say that women are never described as preaching, but I wonder if Jesus’s female disciples might have. Or do you think it would have been impractical for women to preach, since not many people respected women?

    1. Hi Taylor,

      As a general principle, women have always been respected as prophetesses in Israel. Admittedly, prophecy and preaching are not the same thing, but the way many of us use the word “preach/preaching” is different from how the word is used in the New Testament.

      I’ve slowly been working on an article about “preach” words. Here’s a preview.

      ~ In the New Testament, only the apostle Paul and Noah are actually called “preachers.” The Greek noun that means “preacher”, kērux, literally means “herald” (1 Tim. 2:7; 2 Tim. 1:11; 2 Pet. 2:5).
      ~ The related abstract noun is kerugma. C.H. Dodd explains that the content of preaching (kerugma) was primarily concerned with the lordship and resurrection of Christ. Dodd defines preaching (kerugma) as “. . . the public proclamation of Christianity to the non-Christian world”. The Apostolic Preaching and Its Developments (Harper and Row, 1964), 261.
      Information on kerugma: https://biblehub.com/greek/2782.htm
      All occurrences of kerugma in the NT: https://biblehub.com/greek/strongs_2782.htm
      The proclamation of Mary Magdalene, “I have seen the Lord,” when the gospel was brand new, may be regarded as an example of New Testament preaching (John 20:17-18).

      ~ The verb for preach/proclaim, kērussō, and verbs with similar meanings, euaggelizomai and kataggellō, are used of the ministries of John the Baptist, Jesus, The Twelve, the Seventy-Two, Paul, and Paul’s unidentified companions, etc. (I need to find these verses back so I can cite them.)
      Information on kērussō: https://biblehub.com/greek/2784.htm

      There’s no doubt the Twelve preached. In Matthew 10, Jesus gives the Twelve several instructions including this: “As you go, preach/proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near’” (Matt. 10:7; cf. Matt. 10:27). The Seventy-two were given the same message: Jesus told the Seventy-Two (which may have included women), “Tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” (Luke 10:8-9)

      There’s no reason to think that when Paul says “we preached” it does not include women like Phoebe, Priscilla, Euodia or Syntyche who were his coworkers. Women such as Priscilla travelled with Paul. Women such as Euodia and Syntyche ministered with Paul in the gospel (Phi. 4:2-3). Women such as Phoebe represented Paul to others as his envoy (Rom. 16:1-2).

      Also, the way women were respected in the ancient world varied from city to city. In some cities, especially Roman colonies and cities in Macedonia, it wasn’t a problem for women to speak and lead in churches. Philippi was a Roman colony in Macedonia and we see women being leaders in the church. Philip’s daughters were highly respected in the church at Caesarea.

      Also, in at least some churches associated with Paul, men and women could contribute speaking ministries, sometimes spontaneously (1 Cor. 14:26 CSB; Col. 3:16.

  7. Any sense on whether having many women follow him was out of the ordinary for a teacher back then? Thanks

    1. Ben Witherington sees the women as being disciples of a rabbi, and he thinks that was unusual. He says that there is no record before Jesus of a rabbi having female disciples. I tried to find where Dr Witherington said this, but I can’t find it just now.

  8. […] I explain why “the co-elect” woman in 1 Peter 5:13 (AKA “she who is in Babylon”) may be a woman and not a congregation. […]

  9. […] Junias and Junia in Early Commentaries of Romans 16:7; Jesus had many female followers—many! […]

  10. The Urantia Book refers to Salome in 15 passages as the wife of Zebedee and the mother of 3 sons, James, John and David Zebedee, and 4 daughters, unnamed I believe.

    1. Thanks, Dave. I have a long discussion, drawing on ancient texts, on the identity of Salome here:
      https://margmowczko.com/salome-follower-of-jesus-myrrh-bearer/

  11. […] Mary Magdalene was one of Jesus’s most faithful followers. She, and many other women, had travelled with Jesus around Galilee and had sponsored his ministry. They had also travelled with him to Jerusalem where they watched his crucifixion. And Mary was at the tomb and the first to be a witness of Jesus’s resurrection. Mary Magdalene was a “follower” of Jesus in the fullest sense of the word. […]

  12. […] [7] Furthermore, some think Miriam (Mary) the wife of Clopas was one of the two disciples who travelled from Jerusalem to Emmaus. I outline three reasons why I think this was not the case in a lengthy footnote on her identity, here. […]

  13. […] Mary Magdalene and other women who were close followers of Jesus may have been category two apostles. Many women from Galilee had left their homes to travel with Jesus and support his ministry. At least some of these women would have continued to travel after Pentecost, as eyewitnesses, evangelists, and apostles, spreading the gospel of their beloved Messiah and Lord (Acts 13:30–31).[…]

  14. […] [5] Tabitha (Dorcas) is a woman specifically identified as a “disciple” (Acts 9:36ff). However, Jesus had discipled other women too. Mary of Bethany sat at Jesus’ feet, the posture and position of a disciple, listening to his teaching (Luke 10:42 cf. 11:27–28). And Mary Magdalene called Jesus, “Rabboni,” my master-teacher (John 20:16). See also Matthew 26:46–50. (More on Jesus’ female disciples here.) […]

  15. […] Mary was with Jesus in many critical moments of his life and ministry, and she may have been strong support for him and his followers, especially his female followers from Galilee.[5] Mary, and many other women from Galilee, travelled with Jesus and the Twelve, and they financed Jesus’ ministry out of their own resources (Luke 8:2; Matt. 27:55–56 cf. Mark 16:1). Mary is named first in lists of these women from Galilee, with the exception of the list in John 19:25. […]

  16. […] Jesus had many female followers – many! […]

  17. […] I was struck by how many times Mary the mother of James and Joseph is mentioned in the Gospels. I hadn’t paid much attention to this woman before, apart from recognising that she was one of Jesus’s many female followers. […]

  18. […] Joanna, one of Jesus’ disciples and patrons, is identified in Luke 8:2 as the wife (or widow?) of Chuza, an epitropos of Herod Antipas. The Greek word epitropos is used “of governors and procurators, but [in Luke 8:2] most likely refers to one who administers a household or estate. Even if Chuza is only one steward among many, a high-ranking official is clearly indicated.”[8] Thus Joanna’s “marriage to Chuza places her squarely in the higher echelons of Herodian society.”[9] Gavia, likewise, was in the higher echelons of Smyrnaean society. […]

  19. […] Several wealthy women in the New Testament appear to have been the mistresses of their own homes with no mention of a husband or father: Lydia, Nympha, Chloe, Mary of Jerusalem, the chosen lady. Other New Testament women are mentioned as being of independent means. Jesus’s ministry was sponsored by Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, and many other women who accompanied Jesus and ministered to him out of their own personal resources (Luke 8:2–3). It was not rare for a woman to be independently wealthy and a householder in New Testament times. […]

  20. I think I see Matthew 12:46-50 different than you (and Kenneth Bailey).

    Verse 49: And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples and said “Behold my mother and my brethren (adelphoi).”

    Verse 50: For whoever does the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother and sister and mother.

    To me, Jesus here is purposefully doing away with gender distinctions and even age distinctions, and saying that the only thing that matters is that a person does the will of the Father. He doesn’t use the Greek word for sister in verse 49, but adds it in verse 50. I see a lesson being taught here by Jesus.

  21. […] Aspects of Phoebe’s ministry follow on from a ministry of women that is already evident in the Gospels and in early Acts. In the Gospels, many women (pollai) from Galilee travelled with Jesus and were ministering or providing (diēkonoun) for him and his disciples out of their own means (Luke 8:2–3).[12] Many Galilean women were also at the cross where they ministered or provided (diakonousai) for Jesus (Matt. 27:55–56). (Diēkonoun and diakonousai are diakon– words.)

    In chapter 16 of the third-century Didascalia Aspostolorum, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee, “and other women besides” are referred to, anachronistically, as women deacons (cf. Matt. 27:55–56).[13] It seems that these women—who were disciples of Jesus, although this is never explicitly stated in the Gospels—were ministering in a way that the male disciples were not. […]

  22. […] Matthew 12:50 is one of the few New Testament verses where the Greek word for “sister” is explicitly stated in the context of Jesus-followers. I have more on Jesus’s female disciples, and the context of Matthew 12:49–50, here, and more on “brothers and sisters,” especially in Paul’s letters, here. […]

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