Miller, Susan E.
Women in Mark's gospel.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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This thesis aims to examine the portrayal of women in Mark's gospel in the context of his apocalyptic world-view. Each account that features women characters is interpreted in relation to Mark's definition of discipleship and his understanding of new creation. One of the key characteristics of Mark's portrayal of women is their association with the verb . Simon's mother-in-law serves Jesus at the beginning of the gospel (1:31), and the service of the women disciples is described for the first time at his crucifixion (15:41). In Mark's apocalyptic world-view the death of Jesus is a time of revelation. The service of the women disciples is mentioned at the crucifixion of Jesus because the true nature of discipleship can only be understood in the context of his service of giving his life to redeem humanity (10:45).
Jesus initially calls twelve male disciples who represent the twelve tribes and foreshadow the restoration of Israel. At the crucifixion no member of the Twelve is present, whereas a Gentile centurion is the first human being to recognise Jesus as the Son of God (15:39), and the women are mentioned standing at a distance. Mark depicts the death of Jesus as the turning point between the old and the new age, and the religious and social barriers between men and women, and between Jews and Gentiles are broken. The male disciples, however, are not condemned, since the women are instructed to pass on the news of the resurrection to the disciples and Peter (16:7). Mark points forward to an inclusive community which consists of Jews and Gentiles, women and men.
Mark associates women with service (1:29-31), anointing (14:3-9; 16:1-8) and the role of witnesses (15:40-41; 16:1-8). Women are thus aligned with Jesus' suffering and death. They are the last remaining disciples of Jesus, and the only witnesses to his death, burial and resurrection. At the end of the gospel, however, the women run away from the tomb, terrified to say anything to anyone (16:8). In Mark's apocalyptic world-view the fear of the women depicts the eschatological struggle between the old and the new age. Mark ends with the silence of the women, but also with the knowledge that the renewal of the discipleship group is dependent upon their witness and discipleship.
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