The gospels merely say that women went to the tomb of Jesus and found the body was not there and were told by emissaries in white that he had risen.

In a day where we are more aware of the rights of woman, attempts have been made to show that they are affirming that women could be relied on as witnesses.  And more cynically, Christians argue, "If the story had been made up even partly women would not be mentioned as witnesses."  This is self-serving religious rubbish.

Here is a quote from a scholar: Richard Bauckham expands on this issue after considering a couple of passages from Pseudo-Philo's Biblical Antiquities, a book (possibly written by a woman) from the relevant period that accords women great prominence and importance in Israel's history.

There are two passages within the book that Bauckham considers where women receive divine revelation, only to be disbelieved by those that receive the information that they pass along.

Here we will discuss one of the two passages that Bauckham analyzes, that being a revelation sent to Miriam, the sister of Moses: The spirit of God came upon Miriam one night, and she saw a dream and reported it to her parents in the morning, saying, “I had a vision this night, and behold a man was standing in a linen garment and he said to me, 'Go and say to your parents, Behold the child who will be born of you will be cast forth into the water; likewise through him the water will be dried up. And I will work signs through him and save my people, and he will exercise leadership always.' ” When Miriam reported her dream, her parents did not believe her (31).

Bauckham then elaborates: The parallel to the story of the women at the tomb is striking, though it is Mark and Matthew who have the command of the angel, "Go and tell," and Luke who reports that they were not believed. What is striking about Pseudo-Philo's account is that Miriam's parents are the righteous couple Amram and Jochebed. Amram has been portrayed as a man of great faith and faithfulness to God, approved by God.

There does not seem to be any strong reason in the plot for their failure to believe their daughter's prophetic dream. It seems as though Pseudo-Philo sees their unbelief as the expected reaction, even by such admirable characters as Amram and Jochebed, to a claim by a woman to have received divine revelation. Yet there is no doubt that Pseudo-Philo portrays the revelation given to Miriam as authentic (at the end of the chapter he points out that it was fulfilled: 9:16) and readers are surely therefore entitled to think that Amram and Jochebed should have believed it.

Bauckham goes on to discuss a parallel account of this revelation from Josephus, but at the same time gives us a further glimpse of how divine revelation to women was minimized during that time period: Indirect confirmation of this understanding of the story is provided by the striking parallel and contrast in Josephus, who also records a dream predicting that Amram and Jochebed's child would deliver Israel. In this case, however, the dream is Amram's; it is Amram who then tells his wife about it; and they believe the promises of God (Antiquities 2.210-18). Here the revelation is given by God to a man and there is no problem of belief.

Whether Josephus knew the tradition about Miriam's dream and corrected it, or Pseudo-Philo knew the tradition Josephus records and transformed it, we cannot be sure. Josephus was certainly capable of correcting even a biblical text portraying revelation given directly to a woman. Whereas in Genesis Rebekah inquires of the Lord about her unborn children and receives a prophetic oracle about them (Gen 25:22-23), in Josephus it is her husband Isaac who prays and receives the prophecy from God (Antiquities 1.257). Josephus does not consistently remove every case of God speaking directly to or through a woman that he found in his Scriptures, but he does seem to minimize them , and largely restricts them to a few women whom the Bible calls prophets, such as Deborah (Antiquities 5.200-209) and Huldah (Antiquities 10.59-61), but not including Miriam, whom the Bible (Exod 15:20) but not Josephus calls a prophet. It looks as though Josephus represents an opinion that was disinclined to believe that God communicates revelation directly to women and that Pseudo-Philo was concerned to counter this notion.

In Josephus's retelling of the story of Manoah and his wife (Antiquities 5.276-281) the theme of revelation is subordinated to the picture of Manoah as a jealously suspicious husband of a remarkably beautiful wife. Compare Pseudo-Philo's version ....Beyond that, the data from Josephus and Pseudo-Philo seems to indicate that this was in fact a substantial problem when it came to women being used as vessels of revelation, which is pertinent here given that Jesus appears first to women in two of the Gospels, and all of the Gospels tell us that women received the initial revelation through angels of Jesus' being raised from the dead. Bauckham then goes on to draw a connection here to Luke's narrative: In Luke's resurrection narrative the reaction of the apostles to the women's report from the tomb functions similarly to the comparable motif in Pseudo-Philo: It counters the male prejudice about revelation to women. There is no doubt that the apostles ought to have believed the women.

MY COMMENT: The women were not spoken of as witnesses.  The gospels were not affidavits.  The gospels were entitled to include them as all stories have to have a certain amount of hearsay anyway.  And all they said was that they found the body gone.  Jesus could have been stolen and still have risen.  The story is more interested in having the men at the tomb say Jesus rose.  They are the witnesses.  The gospel treatment of the women is no different from other "histories" of the time.  Women not being relied on did not mean they could be left out of the stories.

To argue that the gospellers would not have used women as witnesses for their evidence is necessarily flimsy is odd when the fact is the evidence is flimsy anyway!

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