Misogyny in Thomas?
- On Thu, 25 Jul 2002 10:56:10 AM Eastern Standard Time, Jim Bauer wrote:
> This may also be related to #114'sI do not believe we can confidently ascribe "misogyny" to "one of the authors of Thomas." Think about the portrayal of women in Thomas for a moment:
> "let Mary leave us, for women are not
> worthy of life" as yet another example
> of misogyny on the part of one of the
> authors of Thomas. Would anyone care
> to comment on this?
-- #96 and #97: the Kingdom is compared to a woman (or, at least, to a situation involving a woman)
-- #21 and #61: women put questions to Jesus
-- #79: one woman is quoted and another woman is declared blessed
-- #61: a woman declares herself to be a Jesus' disciple
-- #101: "(my) true (Mother) gave me life"
-- #114: Jesus at first rejects the exclusion of a particular woman and then rejects the exclusion of women in general.
As a group, then, women are represented rather favorably in the Gospel of Thomas.
I would suggest that the misogyny apparent in Peter's words in #114 is not inherent in Thomas but is, instead, commonly associated with the character of Peter in early Christian literature. Putting aside the larger question of whether Peter here symbolizes the "ekklesia," we note other instances of Peter's antagonistic relationship to Mary:
Gospel of Mary 9:1-9 ~
1) When Mary had said this, she fell silent, since it was to this point that the Savior had spoken with her.
2) But Andrew answered and said to the brethren, Say what you wish to say about what she has said. I at least do not believe that the Savior said this. For certainly these teachings are strange ideas.
3) Peter answered and spoke concerning these same things.
4) He questioned them about the Savior: Did He really speak privately with a woman and not openly to us? Are we to turn about and all listen to her? Did He prefer her to us?
5) Then Mary wept and said to Peter, My brother Peter, what do you think? Do you think that I have thought this up myself in my heart, or that I am lying about the Savior?
6) Levi answered and said to Peter, Peter you have always been hot tempered.
7) Now I see you contending against the woman like the adversaries.
8) But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her? Surely the Savior knows her very well.
9) That is why He loved her more than us. Rather let us be ashamed and put on the perfect Man, and separate as He commanded us and preach the gospel, not laying down any other rule or other law beyond what the Savior said.
We see the same traditions at work here as in #114 - Peter's rejection of Mary and the idea that "the Savior made her worthy."
The Pistis Sophia also contains the following passage illustrating a contentious relationship between Peter and Mary after Mary speaks and Jesus praises her words:
Pistis Sophia 36 ~
Peter leapt forward, he said to Jesus : "My Lord, we are not able to suffer this woman who takes the opportunity from us, and does not allow anyone of us to speak, but she speaks many times."
While the Gospel of Mary and the Pistis Sophia are later than the Gospel of Thomas, it is still apparent that Peter had a reputation for contending against Mary within early Christianity.
In light of all this, but especially #114, the following passage in the first letter of Peter is interesting:
1 Peter 3:7 ~
1Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,
2when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.
3Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.
4Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.
5For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands,
6like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
7Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
Note especially that in 3:7 women are portrayed as "heirs with you of the gracious gift of life." Women are co-inheritors with men of "life," which represents a marked change from Thomas #114 where Peter says that "women are not worthy of the Life."
At any rate, to sum up, the misogyny you refer to is consistently associated with the character of Peter and does not otherwise seem typical of the Gospel of Thomas.
- Kevin Johnson