HERspective Part 10 – It’s Time to Speak

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(Women at the empty tomb – Fra Angelico, cell 9 San Marco)

This is the Final part of HERspective. Read previous parts here

 

“It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent”  ― Madeleine K. Albright

I once read a blog about reading books (yes, I’m that lame) where the author said, “I’m the kind of nerd who does not consider myself having read a book if I did not also read the footnotes.” 

When I first read that, I rolled my eyes…HARD. But the more I’ve read books since, the more I’ve paid attention to the footnotes, because they often contain some very important information. 

The Bible has some important footnotes as well. One of the most interesting ones comes at the end of the Gospel of Mark. Maybe you’ve noticed it before. If you open up your Bible to Mark 16, there is a footnote at the end of verse 8. When you go to the bottom of the page, the note says,

“The earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses do not have verses 9–20.”

What does that mean? In the world of Biblical Scholarship, the original document of a Biblical book is called an “autograph”. At this point in history, we have zero autographs. This means that the versions of the Bible we use are created from analyzing the many copies that were made. Sometimes these copies don’t agree. It is typically assumed that, the earlier a copy was written, the higher the likelihood that it’s closer to the original. Whether or not this is a good assumption is for a different blog, but this is the dominant view. Which brings us to our footnote. The earliest copies have the Gospel of Mark ending after verse 8, and verses 9-20 appear in later copies of the book. So what does the ending of Mark look like if we stop at verse 8?

By the end of chapter 15, Jesus has died and been buried. As we get to the beginning of chapter 16, several of the women followers of Jesus go to visit his tomb. Remember how, in the Gospel of Mark, the women followers of Jesus are shown to “get it” in a way the male disciples never do? Well, notice how none of the male disciples are there…even though Jesus literally told them he would die and then rise 3 days later (Mark 9:31).

When the women get to the tomb, they notice that the giant boulder door has been opened. Inside the tomb, there is no Jesus, but there is some young guy hanging out. Understandably, they are alarmed. The man inside tells them that Jesus isn’t there, he has risen, and to go tell the disciples what has happened. The fact that the women followers are being sent to announce the resurrection of Jesus to the male disciples is pretty unheard of. But Jesus doesn’t play by the rules. Remember how he also sends the woman at the well to announce Jesus to the men in her village?

At this point we are ready for a dramatic ending, and this is the one we get in the earliest copies of Mark.

Mark 16:8 – Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

THE END

Huh? If this was really the original ending, why would Mark leave it there? What could that ending possibly have to say to us?

In the Bible, many books seem to have an abrupt ending. The Book of Acts also comes to mind, as well as Jonah. The authors often do this as a way for the readers to understand that they are supposed to continue the story. If that’s what is happening here, what does Mark want us to know?

These women just had an experience, but they keep it to themselves. Why? Because they are afraid. Why were they afraid? Maybe they thought no one would believe them. Maybe they feared they would be silenced. Maybe they felt their voice didn’t matter. 

I think the message of Mark’s abrupt ending is clear. It’s time to speak! We need your voice. We need your story. Your experience is valuable. Don’t be afraid. Speak up!

So many women keep their experience to themselves. No one will believe me. People will try to silence me. My voice doesn’t matter. I know as a male, it’s easy for me to say that. I don’t have to fear these same things when I choose to speak up. But that lack of understanding is even more reason why we need the women around us to share. I cannot put into words how valuable it has been in my life to learn from the female perspective. We need your voice. We need your story. We need your experience. We have so much to learn from you. 

Please don’t be silent. It’s time to speak. 

 

HERspective Part 9 – I’ll Take the Check

 

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(Mary Magdalene, Susanna and Joanna – Painted by Mary McKenzie)

Previous Parts

 

 

I truly believe that women should be financially independent from their men. And let’s face it, money gives men the power to run the show. – Beyonce

If you’ve ever been on a dinner date before, there’s that brief awkward moment when the bill comes at the end. How are we going to do this? Are we splitting it? Should I pay for all of it? Are you paying for all of it? 

Well…I never had one of these awkward moments because I was given the message that the man should pay for everything when he goes out with a woman. Apparently Jesus didn’t get that memo.

In Luke 8, we are given this tiny little detail that’s easy to miss. Check this out,

Luke 8: 1-3

After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, 2 and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; 3 Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.

So many things are going on here. First, how would you like to be known for all history moving forward as the one “from whom 7 demons had come out”? Thanks a lot Luke!

Second, the twelve disciples get the most exposure, but Jesus had MANY female disciples following him as well. 

Third, those women were using their own money to fund the ministry of Jesus. 

Please don’t miss this! In Jesus, the Kingdom of God had come and that ministry was preached and spread because the female disciples were making it rain. But it gets even crazier!

Where did they get this money? We don’t necessarily know, but one detail is important. One of the women, Joanna, was “the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household”. 

Who was Herod? Herod Antipas was the ruler of Galilee during the life of Jesus. Although this is not the same Herod that ordered many babies to be killed after the birth of Jesus, he still was not a supporter of the cause. You may remember him as the one who ordered the execution of John the Baptist, and if you’re not quite sure how he felt about Jesus, just flip a few more pages to Luke 13.

Luke 13: 31 – At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”

So let’s work backwards. Herod has already killed John the Baptist, and wants to kill Jesus. Herod is a powerful ruler who is rich. He uses that power and money to hire employees to manage his assets. One of those employees he is paying is Chuza, who is married to Joanna. Joanna is then taking that money from Herod, and using it to fund the very person Herod is trying to stop. I hope you’re smirking right now.

That’s a bold move.

Jesus didn’t graciously allow women to stand in the back and watch his ministry happen, his ministry happened BECAUSE OF the women. They funded Jesus then, and they still fund him today. Check out this study on how women fund charitable causes over men on a regular basis. 

When it came to the things Jesus was doing, there was no question about who was taking the check. The female disciples said, “we got this!” I’m thankful they made things happen then, and I’m thankful they make things happen now.