Luke 8:1-3

Faithful Women Included

Luke 8:1-3  -  Women Accompany Jesus

1 After that, he made his way through town and village,
preaching and spreading the good news of the kingdom of God.

Contrary to Mark’s emphasis, Luke stressed Jesus’ ministry in towns and villages, because at the time of Luke’s writing, Christian communities existed almost exclusively in cities and towns. The Christian movement throughout the Empire was an urban rather than a rural phenomenon. 

The Kingdom of God 

Luke adopted the wording “Kingdom of God” directly from Mark’s Gospel.

Modern readers may feel uneasy with the use of the word “Kingdom” as further instance of male patriarchy. Undoubtedly Luke was party to the collective thought patterns and language of his culture, which were decidedly patriarchal. However, a different and otherwise more preferable term might not do justice to the integrity of the text. It may be true, nevertheless, that in this instance the word “Kingdom” is not altogether inappropriate.

Masculine Energy. According to some psychological theories “kingly” energy is seen as one expression of archetypal masculine energy, normally spontaneously active in men and more likely latent, though still accessible (and important for mature balance) in women. The energy is seen as an instinctive drive to order, law, organisation and authority in human communities.

In this context, reference to God’s “Kingdom” would apply to the human community precisely as organised community, and its relationship to God as its point of reference and source of direction.

Feminine Energy. In the Hebrew Scriptures, there are references to God that would be identified as archetypal feminine energies. God was said to love with tenderness and faithfulness, indeed, even with “womb-love”. 

God, of course, has no gender (a specifically creaturely category). But as humans, people need to use human words and human concepts. On balance, the patriarchal culture of Luke’s time ensured that masculine descriptions of God outweighed the feminine. That patriarchal culture often still prevails. (The difficulty is compounded in English, which has no personal pronouns or adjectives that do not specify gender, and more often than not refers to God as “he”.) 

Later in his Gospel, Luke would complement the sense of “Kingdom”, with its masculine connotations, by strong emphasis on the need for inner conversion and self-knowledge, aptitudes that fit more easily the feminine energies natural to women (though they are clearly necessary also for males if they are to achieve a balanced and holistic maturity).

The twelve were with him, 
2 as were certain women who had been cured of evil spirits and illnesses,
Mary called the Magdalene, from who seven demons had gone out,
3 Joanna, the wife of Herod's steward, Chusa, Susanna
and a number of others
who provided for them all from their own resources.

Luke generally made more frequent references to women in his Gospel narrative than did the other evangelists, though little was said of their contribution, other than financial, to the life and interactions of the community of disciples and its mission. On this occasion Luke’s identification of some of them as cured of evil spirits and illnesses was somewhat negative. Though the comment came immediately after his account of the generous gesture of a sinful woman, it contained no reference to her. Sinfulness was not seen as an instance of the influence of evil spirits. The identification, therefore, of Mary Magdalene as one from whom seven demons had gone out said nothing of sinfulness and may simply have indicated what today would have been diagnosed as severe neurosis or psychopathology. It certainly did not imply that she was the woman who figured in the previous incident.

That the women had resources and the capacity to use them with a degree of independence might indicate either that they were wealthy widows or else enjoyed the support of their husbands.

Next >> Luke 8:4-15