In Mediterranean society, a woman’s testifying voice held relatively little persuasive value for listening audiences.
• Jews tended to distrust women’s testimony,1 as did Romans/Greeks. [Both forthcoming]
• Maurice Casey: “…the New Testament is not a law court. Accordingly, the position of women in court is irrelevant until John 20, which was written by people in open conflict with the Jewish community.”
• Claudia Setzer: “Discussions of whether or not women's witness was legally valid seem out of place since this is hardly a legal context.” [“Excellent Women: Female Witness to the Resurrection” Journal of Biblical Literature 116/2 (1997): 261.] Or because even in legal contexts women could testify in special circumstances: • R. T. Beckwith: “Applying this to the resurrection appearances, it would mean that Mary Magdalene was on rabbinical principles entitled to give witness to an appearance of Christ which was made only to her or to her and other women.” [as cited in John Wenham, Easter Enigma: Are the Resurrection Accounts in Conflict? (Second ed., Baker, 1992), 150-51.] However, these objections may miss the point being made my most historians. Very few claim that the resurrection was being judged in the New Testament as “in a Law court”. Instead, the point is that the cultural disallowance of women to testify in court is clearly symptomatic of a larger bias against the reliability of women as witnesses. This bias is all that is being argued for.
People possessed by demons (past or present) were not considered credible sources in Mediterranean society; their testimony held little persuasive value for typical audiences.
Full article [Forthcoming] weighs these 2 evidences:
• They were judged to be mentally ill (or crazy, subject to paranoia).
• E.g. Mary was considered unreliable on that basis.
This is relevant because Mary Magdalene, and some of Jesus’s other women followers, had a reputation of being formerly demon possessed.1
• Lk 8:2 — “Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out”
• Mk 16:9 — “He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons.” [Note: Although this is the so-called false ending of Mark, it is still early.]