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More than a friend?

When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her... John 19.26

Apart from Jesus' mother, Mary, the woman who stands out among Jesus' companions in Mary Magdalene, out of whom the Lord cast 7 demons. According to feminist theology, we must penetrate the misogynist filter through which a patriarchal society has conveyed the Gospel story. The argument goes that not only have women been side-lined but, in some cases, they have been replaced by men. For instance, it is contended that Jesus included women among his disciples on an equal footing with the men. The claim is bolstered by pointing out that, in a society where the roles of men and women were strictly divided, it made sense for the pairs in which the disciples were sent out by Jesus to be mixed rather than both being male. Furthermore, it is suggested that Jesus' partner was none other than Mary Magdalene.

Some argue that the rumours surrounding the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene must have some basis; that she was actually "the disciple whom Jesus loved" but an increasingly squeamish church supplanted her with John, as a more respectable alternative. Is this simply an appeal to the "no smoke without fire" principle, lacking an evidential basis? Not according to feminist theologians. Does it change our understand of Jesus or the New Testament? That depends on the significance one ascribes to rebalancing the gender agenda!



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