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12/29/2008

Women in Religion

Many assumptions are made about the role of women in religion. Several sources - Christian an otherwise - draw from their own culture to present the role of woman in ancient Israel. Through the lens of the Medieval Virgin or the Victorian ethos they define her role. They transfer those values on to the women depicted in scripture. She is passive, she is gentile, she is motherly and she is beautiful if pure and virginal. The truth of this comes through clearly when reading about the question if Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married. Long misidentified by early papal writings as a prostitute, the assumption is that she had to have been young and lovely. Chances are just as high she was an older woman...maybe as old as an aunt or a grandmother. What Jesus knew and appreciated was that Israel had long had a place for its women as leaders and spiritual guides. These "wise women" and "mothers of Israel" are found throughout the pages of the Bible for those with eyes to see their presence.

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