Cover image for Mary and Martha : women in the world of Jesus
Mary and Martha : women in the world of Jesus
Yamaguchi, Satoko.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Maryknoll, N.Y. : Orbis Books, [2002]

Physical Description:
xi, 204 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


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BS2545.W65 Y35 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Author Notes

Satoko Yamaguchi taught at New York Theological Seminary and the Newark School of Theology. She currently teaches in Japan and is co-director of the Center for Feminist Theology and Ministry, Tokyo. She received the Bible & Archeology prize for her dissertation at the Episcopal Divinity School

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Choice Review

Yamaguchi (Center for Feminist Theology, Tokyo) offers a feminist reading of the story of Mary and Martha in John's Gospel. Part 1 outlines, from a feminist perspective, some of the social characteristics of the first-century Greco-Roman world, including Jewish life in Israel. Yamaguchi claims that "a more women-focused historical imagination" is needed because most of our historical information about that period comes from "privileged male perspectives." She attends to the issue of how much of this information is relevant for ordinary women. Part 2 is a 30-page feminist reading of the story of Mary and Martha in John 11:1-12:8. Yamaguchi identifies how Mary and Martha behave as trusting friends and disciples of Jesus. Indeed, she suggests that Mary may even have been a model of discipleship for Jesus. In addition, she suggests that the communities responsible for John's Gospel "could also have imaged Christ as a female figure...," on the ground that the "I am" sayings of John's Gospel reveal Jesus as Sophia. This is speculative, but Yamaguchi does establish that Jesus welcomed women as disciples and friends. Recommended for libraries supporting feminist and religious studies; suitable for both undergraduate and graduate students. P. K. Moser Loyola University of Chicago

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introduction: Re-visioning the Past to Transform the Presentp. 1
Rereading of the Johannine Gospelp. 2
Some Key Terms and Conceptsp. 3
Part 1 Searching for a New Historical Imagination
1. Looking at Christian History in a New Wayp. 9
A New Historical Imaginationp. 9
Cautionary Remarksp. 11
Reading of Spiral Movementsp. 11
2. Daily Lives of Jewish Women and Men in the First Centuryp. 13
The Roman Colonial Worldp. 13
Family Life and Work Environmentsp. 16
Women and Men in the Earliest Christian Movementsp. 25
3. Deities and Religious Leadershipp. 34
In the Greco-Roman Worldp. 34
In the Jewish Communitiesp. 39
In the Earliest Christian Communitiesp. 45
4. Prophecy and "I Am" Revelationp. 51
Greco-Roman Prophetic Movementsp. 51
Prophecy in the Corporate Personalityp. 52
The "I Am" Revelation and Womenp. 55
Women Prophets in the Jewish and Christian Traditionsp. 62
5. Healing and Sign-Workingp. 66
World of Divine Humansp. 66
Human Ailments and Healingp. 69
Sign Stories and Womenp. 73
6. Storytelling and Tradition-Makingp. 80
The Jewish Heritage of Women's Storytellingp. 80
Biblical Stories in Greco-Roman Timesp. 84
Birth of Popular Literaturep. 89
From Storytelling to Written Textsp. 93
7. Persecution and Patriarchalizationp. 97
Roman Political and Religious Oppressionp. 97
Roman Persecution and Womenp. 100
Christian Patriarchalization and Womenp. 103
Part 2 Hearing the Story of Martha and Mary with New Ears
8. The Story and Its Charactersp. 113
The Storyp. 114
The Charactersp. 115
Summaryp. 128
9. Ethnicity, Class, and Gender of the Story Worldp. 130
Ethnicityp. 130
Classp. 132
Genderp. 135
10. Martha, Mary, and Christian Women (and Men) Todayp. 139
Making the Best of Jesusp. 141
Old Stories, Our Stories, and New Identitiesp. 142
Notesp. 145
Bibliographyp. 179
Indexp. 197