Women? In the gospels?! Yep, that's right. Luke gives women a pretty prominent role in his story. He names several female followers of Jesus (8:1-3), makes them the first witnesses of the empty tomb (24:1-8), and affirms that they, too, should attend to the teachings of Jesus (10:38-42). Luke is living in a Greco-Roman cultural world, where there are plenty of debates about whether women even have the capacity to learn at all and whether they can properly hold a job like, say, philosopher. It's pretty easy to see which side Luke seems to have come down on.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves; this isn't the stuff of Women's Lib. Luke is not re-writing the cultural expectations men hold about women or the cultural roles men assign to women. The trick is to tease out just how far Luke goes without losing sight of the fact that he's still working within the confines of a very male-centered world.
Questions About Women and Femininity
Does Luke give women the same treatment he gives other social outcasts?
What does Luke see as women's proper work and role?
Imagine a scale with Women's Lib on one side and patriarchy on the other. Where would you place Luke on this scale? Is he always consistent?
Does Luke take up any of the stereotypical female roles found throughout world literature, like the femme fatale, the chaste maiden, the lovesick woman, or the bad girl?