Would naming women as first witness-heralds to Jesus’ resurrection scandalize Christianity?

“Yes, after all…
  • Jews felt: women can't mediate for God & us

    In 1st century Jewish thought, women were generally regarded as inappropriate or unworthy mediators of God’s word to men.

    After all...

    • E.g. Pseudo-Phil LAB 9:10 says Miriam’s righteous parents rejected her vision
    • E.g. Pseudo-Philo, LAB 42:1-5 says Manoah rejected wife’s words (from an angel)
    • E.g. Leviticus Rabbah 10:5

    This is relevant because it means that, for Jews, any Christian-based honoring of women as God’s primary envoys in their origin story would by default be a source of mockery. So in the Gospel accounts, it was to their own cultural embarrassment that the first Christians—all Jewish—were largely forced to honor a gaggle of women as God’s chosen messengers to men. What's more, the revelation they were entrusted with was a centerpiece in the men's religious belief and preaching: the tomb-emptying resurrection of their own rabbi, and the very Son of God.

  • Men trusting women invites shaming

    In 1st century Mediterranean thought, it could be rhetorically played as illicit or shameful in general for men to rely on women’s testimony as dependable evidence. Women ought not be sources of the men’s knowledge.

    • In general, men being influenced by women could be a point of shame (e.g. in later Roman/Greek thought).1
    • In general, women were considered unreliable witnesses.
    1. Setzer aptly cites Kate Cooper’s work on a widespread perception of the influence of women on men in the later Roman empire. Specifically, men were subject to rhetorical shaming if lured by women into embracing false ideas or betraying duty, which women were thought particularly apt to do. (It was allegedly part of what made them dangerous.) See Kate Cooper, “Institutions of Womanly Influence: An Aspect of the Christianization of the Roman Aristocracy,” JRS 82 [1992] 150-64).
  • Demoniacs were deemed unreliable

    A devil faces three judges who each have a rejection x below them.

    Reputed demoniacs (or former demoniacs) were considered unreliable as witnesses. [Full page.] In 1st century Mediterranean thought, it could be rhetorically played as illicit or shameful for the apostles to rely on the testimony of reputed demoniacs (or former demoniacs) as evidence.1

    1. As a side note: There was something else that potentially counted against Mary’s credibility in that culture: her lack of a husband.