Study Guide

Gospel of Mark Women and Femininity

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Women and Femininity

Talk about a complex portrayal. On one hand, female followers of Jesus make impressive efforts at the end of the story to be faithful in contrast to their male counterparts (15:40-41; 16:1). Jesus even defends and affirms the bold actions of several women throughout the story—that's a meaty recommendation right there.

But don't get too excited. After all, throughout the story, women are expected to perform traditional roles, and the women of Herod's court are portrayed as manipulative, jealous, vengeful, and willing to use their sex-appeal to trap men into doing what they want. So…yeah.

The puzzle for you to untangle is what vision of women ultimately emerges in Mark and how we can come to terms with it on the other side of Women's Lib.

Questions About Women and Femininity

  1. How do women get what they want in Mark's gospel? What does this imply about their social roles?
  2. What roles are women expected to perform in this story? How are these roles undermined or affirmed?
  3. How do the women of Herod's court (6:17-29) compare and contrast with the other women in the story? 
  4. How do the female followers of Jesus compare and contrast with their male counterparts?

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