Would Christians disfavor Mary & women being first witness-heralds of the resurrection?

“Yes, after all…
  • It’d clearly scandalize their Gospel

      Christians would know that the reported usage of women as witness-heralds would stigmatize their gospel, community, and leadership.

      This article analyzes 3 reasons to agree, namely…
      • …Jews were inclined to dismiss women as unworthy mediators for God.
      • …men trusting women would invite shaming.
      • …demoniacs would be deemed unreliable.
      This is relevant because Christians in general disliked stigmatizing their Gospel’s reputation. So for these apostles and Christians who desired to be proud of their leadership and the pedigree of their faith, it was uncomfortably embarrassing to dignify these women with an almost inextricably primary role in the news of Jesus’s resurrection to the men and the rest of Christendom. In fact, if Christians could have left it out of their origin story, the average Palestinian would’ve sooner assumed that none of the original witnesses—by the standards of AD 30 Mediterranean society—were scandalously subpar. [On a closely related note: see here on how Christians would consequently see this as a very unappealing lie to tell.]

  • It’d clearly discredit the origin of their belief

      In terms of their desire to have more evidence in the origin story of the Christian gospel that Jesus rose, this circulating account grounding it in the women’ testimony would be overtly subpar.

      This article analyzes 2 reasons to agree, namely…
      • …women were considered unreliable witnesses.
      • …demoniacs were considered unreliable witnesses.
      This is relevant because Christians would prefer to have at least have some average evidential force behind their witnesses.1, 2

      But against that first claim,…* • …[On the empty tomb evidence], Christians didn’t care to have this.

      1. • A.J.M. Wedderburn: “…we must bear in mind both the world in which the Christian movement arose in the purposes which such traditions were meant to serve apart from their stating what had happened. For they were not told to satisfy mere idle curiosity or to serve a purely antiquarian interest. In part the stories of Jesus’ resurrection were meant to persuade the outside world of the truth of the Christian faith, written to prove the reality of the resurrection, […]” [Beyond Resurrection (Hendrickson, 1999), 57.]
      2. It’s worth noting here that the ability to argue that the tomb was Jesus’s also seems to depend on the witness of the women. They alone are set up as knowing where Jesus was entombed, and so uniquely able to know if Jesus’ tomb was empty, and arguably whether the figure that appeared was Jesus doing so by the right tomb.
  • The women are negligible characters

      As portrayed by the Gospel authors, Mary and the other women who end up first learning Jesus rose, up until that moment, play virtually no role in the Gospel drama of Jesus’s ministry.

      • The women get virtually no mention prior to this. This is relevant because the empty tomb discovery and its proclamation of Jesus’s resurrection by the accompanying angel is the climax and main content of the Gospel story. Yet using negligible characters as the heroes in your story’s climax—tossing out all the character development beforehand—is awkward. It frustrates the narrative’s development, and makes for generally inept story-telling.

  • Later Christians downplayed their role

      Christians did historically (AD 35-100) dislike and/or disvalue those women being known as the empty tomb discoverers.

      An article analyzing these 4 reasons to agree is forthcoming…
      • …women are omitted in the kerygmatic summaries in Acts.
      • …Mt 28:16 does: it omits why the men went to Galilee.
      • …they were omitted in Justin’s dialogue’s (150 AD).
      • …they were replaced in the Gospel of Peter (150 AD).
      • Etc.
      This is relevant because its improbable that later Christians would choose to do this unless these women truly were undesirable as Christianity’s initiating witness-heralds to Jesus’s resurrection.

  • “No, after all…
  • In Mk, the women function as witnesses

      The Gospel of Mark clearly and deliberately chooses to portray the women as witnesses.

      This article analyzes 6 reasons to agree, namely…
      • …Mk 15 (buried) & 16:1 (emptied) re-list similar participants.
      • …Mk 16:1 and Lk 24:10 emphasize (by naming) different members.
      • …Mk 16:1 names them without introduction.
      • …Mk 15-16 is loaded with witness-engendering terms.
      • …Mk 15-16 portrays the women as being uniquely qualified as the witnesses.
      • Mark claimed to relay expert-witness testimony.
      This is relevant because Mk was a Christian; he wouldn't have emphasized their role as witnesses if it was so offensive to his Christian sensibilities.

      Against that first claim's relevance, plausibly…
      • …Greco-Roman biographical conventions required Mark to use them.
      • …the rampant awareness of the fact meant Mark could not avoid reporting it.1

      1. Carolyn Osiek: ”…if the entire story is secondary, it surely would have disappeared, or at least the women would have vanished from it, for they and the story came to serve no kerygmatic purpose in the canonical tradition. But they remained because the memory of their role was so persistent that it could not be removed.” [“The Women at the Tomb: What are they doing there?” HTS Theological Studies 53/1 & 2 (1997): 116.]
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