Generally marrying young, a woman was almost always under the protection and authority of a man: her father, her husband or a male relative of her husband if she was a widow. This left women in a very vulnerable position within Judaism. They had little access to property or inheritance, except through a male relative. Any money a woman earned belonged to her husband. Men could legally divorce a woman for almost any reason, simply by handing her a writ of divorce.
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A woman, however, could not divorce her husband. In the area of religious practice, women were in many ways overlooked. Men were required to pray certain prayers daily, but women were not. While the study of Scripture was regarded as extremely important for men, women were not allowed to study the sacred texts.
At the Temple in Jerusalem, women were restricted to an outer court. In synagogues they were separated from the men and not permitted to read aloud. They were not allowed to bear witness in a religious court. First, Jesus refuses to treat women as inferior. He recognizes their dignity, their desires and their gifts. Jesus, for example, speaks to women in public. He steps forward in a crowd of mourners to speak with the widow at Nain, and to call her son back to life Luke In John , Jesus ignores two codes of behavior. He initiates a conversation with a foreigner, a Samaritan.
In addition, this foreigner is also a woman.
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Jesus not only speaks with her but also enters into a prolonged dialogue, a dialogue which recognizes and honors her thirst for religious truth. Ultimately, he reveals his identity as the Messiah. Why are you talking with her? Second, Jesus refuses to view women as unclean or especially deserving of punishment. Women who were menstruating or persons who had any flow of blood were considered ritually unclean.
In this condition, women were not allowed to participate in most religious rituals. Anything or anyone she touched was deemed unclean. The most dramatic story concerning a woman in this state is the account of the woman who had a flow of blood for 12 years Luke Chapter 8 features Jairus, an official of the synagogue, coming to Jesus to beg him to cure his daughter. While they are on the way, this frightened, suffering woman, who has been ill and consequently isolated for years, touches his cloak.
Jesus turns his attention from the synagogue official to the woman. He wants to know who touched his garment. If the woman expects him to be angry with her for approaching, she is greatly surprised. Jesus recognizes the dignity of women in situations that seem by ritual law to demand judgment, for example, the sinful woman who anoints Jesus Luke and that of the woman caught in adultery John Not only does Jesus tell the woman that her sins are forgiven, but he also uses her actions and the love which prompted them to teach his offended host!
The question urges Simon to look beyond the categories by which he has always lived and to see her as a sincere woman, as a woman of great love. Jesus clearly teaches that the one who keeps all the rules is not necessarily the better person.
The scribes and Pharisees who bring the woman to Jesus present the case, the judgment and the punishment, and wait to see if he will reject the Mosaic law in favor of the woman. Gregg Allison. Welcome to Anglican Spiritual Traditions. Vicki K. Bishop C. Mason and the Roots of the Church of God in Christ. Ithiel C. Howard A Snyder.
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