Gender critique on the narrator’s androcentric point of view of women in Matthew’s gospel
AbstractThe article, from a gender-sensitive perspective, is critical of patriarchal values that are harmful to women and other non-dominant groups. When the focus on women and women’s roles is usurped by male control, the androcentric self-interest of interpreters and authors becomes apparent. This is still the case in present-day theological studies, but is especially prevalent in premodern biblical writings, of which the Gospel of Matthew is an example. Recent mainstream Jesus studies demonstrate that women were welcomed in an ‘egalitarian’ way in the community of the first followers of Jesus. Women’s contribution to the first Christian faith community is highlighted. This stands in stark contrast to the silencing and invisibility of women in the surrounding patriarchal world of the ancient Middle East. Although Matthew does view women and other formerly excluded people as part of the faith community and equal recipients of God’s love, they are never treated as equal participants. The article focuses on three issues concerning the narrator’s point of view, namely that (1) women fulfilled a supporting, rather than an initiating role (Mt 1–2; 9:18–26; 15:21–28), (2) double standards were applied to male and female sexuality and women’s sexuality was regarded with prejudice (Mt 5:29–32; 19:2–12) and (3) women were seemingly given the opportunity to live ‘authentically’ as human beings, but in actual fact they could do so only if this ‘authenticity’ was sanctioned by men (Mt 20:20–23; 27:38; 27:56).
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