And they said nothing to anyone : a redaction-critical study of the role and status of women in the crucifixion, burial and ressurrection stories of the canonical and apocryphal gospels
The overall aim of this research is to ascertain the position and status of women in the early church as reflected in the most important event for the Christian tradition - the resurrection of Jesus. In the course of this study, we will be attempting to unravel the source- and tradition-critical relationships in these narratives in an attempt to make sense of these texts and the redaction-critical processes involved. In order to place this redaction-critical study in its wider context we will begin by looking briefly at the relevant background material. This will involve a short review of the general role and status of women in Judaism and the Greeco-Roman world and an examination of women in the early church. Our treatment of the stories of the crucifixion, burial and resurrection traditions will be developed within a framework of source-, form-, and redaction-critical analysis. The aim of this investigation will be to construct an interpretative framework within which we can assess the attitude to women in the early church as reflected in these particular narratives and the extent, if any, to which this attitude was influenced by questions of the acceptability of women as official representatives of the Christian Church. The thesis is divided into six chapters. In our introduction we will briefly address the question of methodology and in particular we will look at feminist approaches to the bible. Throughout this investigation the tools of source, form and redaction criticism are used with contributions from the more recent disciplines of wider literary criticism and feminist hermeneutics. Chapter One provides a brief Introduction to the role and status of women in the ancient world and then focuses on women in the early church with special emphasis on equality and subordination of women. The next five chapters are devoted to the canonical and apocryphal stories of the crucifixion, burial and resurrection. We begin with Mark's gospel and then move on to the subsequent redactional treatment of the Marcan stories within the canonical and extra-canonical traditions where there is a source relationship between a text or a tradition critical comparison where Mark is not the source and the tradition is independent. The main question we will raise here concerns whether women were redacted out of, or into, the developing tradition. Beyond this, we need to consider what meaning each gospel writer intended these stories to convey, and how the first century reader might have understood this material being the audience to whom it was addressed. In particular the treatment of these stories will be related to the question of women's leadership in the early church. The conclusion will then draw together the themes developed in each of the individual chapters and attempt a dialogue with various feminist exegetes with reference to the particular redactional observations we have made in order to show how our distinctive reading of the data integrates with the overall enterprise of feminist hermeneutics. In general our research has led us to conclude that the presentation of women in these stories is intimately connected with the question of the acceptability of women's leadership in the early church. We, therefore, have identified an attempt to write men back into the traditions at certain points with the effect that the women's role is thereby eclipsed. This redactional process does not, however, proceed unchallenged and within both the canonical and apocryphal traditions the conflict between male and female witness continues and is sometimes re solved in women's favour. Thus the role and status of women in the stories of the crucifixion, burial and resurrection can only ultimately be understood against the wider background of the struggles of the developing church and its relationship with various so-called 'heretical' groups and the position/status afforded to women within these traditions.