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Yes. Jesus Had Female Disciples

Some helpful remarks from John P. Meier’s lengthy studies on the history of Jesus:

“One is reminded here of the danger of doing either history or theology simply through word-studies. New realities emerge on the historical scene before there are new words to describe them, and sometimes the time-lag between new reality and new coinage is lengthy. Hence, the lack of any feminine form for the Greek noun mathëtës ("disciple") in our four Gospels may be due at least in part to the tenacity and conservative nature of the Gospel tradition. During the public ministry, Jesus and his disciples never used a special word for female disciples in Aramaic — for the simple reason that none existed — and so the Greek Gospels that flow from that tradition used no such word either.”

. . .

“We are left, then, with something of a paradox. Did the historic Jesus have women disciples? In name, no; in reality — putting aside the question of an implicit as opposed to an explicit call — yes. Certainly the reality rather than the label would have been what caught most people's attention. The sight of a group of women — apparently, at least in some cases, without benefit of husbands accompanying them — traveling around the Galilean countryside with an unmarried male who exorcised, healed, and taught them as he taught his male disciples could not help but raise pious eyebrows and provoke impious comments. As it was, Jesus was stigmatized by his critics as a bon vivant, a glutton and drunkard, a friend of toll collectors and sinners (Matt 11:19 par.), a demoniac or mad man (Mark 3:20-30 parr.; John 8:48). A traveling entourage of husbandless female supporters, some of whom were former demoniacs who were now giving Jesus money or food, would only have heightened the suspicion and scandal Jesus already faced in a traditional peasant society. Yet, scandal or no scandal, Jesus allowed them to follow and serve him. Whatever the problems of vocabulary, the most probable conclusion is that Jesus viewed and treated these women as disciples.”— John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus (Volume 3: Companions and Competitors) Doubleday 2001. pp. 78-80.

(These two paragraphs represent a summary of Meier’s discussion of Jesus’ women disciples, which runs from page 73 to page 80. His whole discussion of this issue is worth reading.)

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