Hey guys. I want to address the disciples’ reaction to the account of Jesus’ resurrection given to them by women.
I am seeing more commentary today claiming that the main reason the disciples disbelieved the women was that the women were women, and the men were misogynists. hard stop. (The most recent example I saw was in a blog post on Harper One publisher’s own website).
I think Luke’s account is the one most commonly pointed to:
“Returning from the tomb, they reported all these things to the Eleven and to all the rest. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them were telling the apostles these things. But these words seemed like nonsense to them, and they did not believe the women.”
Of course, it would be quite naive of me to disregard the patriarchal cultural context of their time and place as having no bearing on the men’s reactions whatsoever. Indeed, Bauckham notes that, in the Greco-Roman world, women were regarded as “gullible in religious matters and especially prone to superstitious fantasy and excessive in religious practices.” I don’t doubt that the men disregarded the testimony in part because of the gender of those giving it to them.
But to make that the sole reason, or even the majority reason, seems dishonest to me.
For starters, none of the four gospels explicitly say that the disciples dismissed the women “because they were women,” so, even considering the cultural context, you’re still in danger of reading that explanation into scripture when it might not actually be there.
Secondly, the gospels are replete with instances where the disciples struggled with doubting Jesus (for example, when Peter doubted he could walk on water, or when he denied Jesus three times, or when they questioned how he could possibly feed 5,000 people with so little food, or when Thomas doubted that Christ had risen even as he stood before him).
So, the disciples’ dismissal of the resurrection account seems to be more so a simple continuation of this rocky portrayal of character than it does a blatant example of their raging misogyny (though again, I don’t doubt that some cultural bias might have played a role in their reaction).
Is this assessment fair? Or no?