At Huffpost Religion, Rice University Professor of Biblical Studies April D. DeConick encourages readers of the Bible to take seriously the place of women in biblical tradition.

DeConick suggests,

The stories of the biblical women recorded in the ancient sources take the back seat to the stories of the men because the texts were written by male leaders in emerging churches who had their own interests to front and authority to assert and maintain.

She then goes on to imagine some of the women who may have been present at the crucifixion:

I imagine Mary of Bethany standing there looking up at Jesus and remembering her brother Lazarus, how Jesus had consoled her when Lazarus had died, even crying with her. Was she also remembering sitting at Jesus’ feet as his student, rather than serving him dinner as women were supposed to do back then? Was she thinking about his teachings, that God is love, that the poor are blessed, that we should be peacemakers, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, taking care of the sick, welcoming the stranger, helping the outlaws? Had she come to realize how difficult and dangerous his message was?

I imagine the woman who anointed Jesus’ head with nard would have been in the throng of women watching. She was the one who had recognized him as a prophet, by performing a traditional anointing ceremony in the company of his dinner guests. Was she horrified now that Jesus’ prophetic role had been misunderstood as a threat to Caesar? Was she wondering how his message could have gotten so mixed up? That God’s reign and power is not coming in the future, but is already here inside each of us.

The woman that Jesus met at the well in Samaria, did she follow him to Jerusalem too? Was she among the women standing at Golgotha? What would have been going through her mind? I imagine that she was remembering meeting Jesus at the well and being totally taken by surprise that he would acknowledge her, let alone talk to her. Not only was she an unfamiliar woman, but also a Samaritan, segregated and off-limits. Yet they exchanged words and water. Jesus acknowledged her dignity and worth, even when his disciples thought he was crazy for doing so. And since then, she had not thirsted. Standing there, was she frightened and confused, wondering how this madness and violence could have come about?

We know that Mary Magdalene was there, Jesus’ devoted follower. How her heart must have been breaking, hearing Jesus crying out, despairing, pleading with God. Why had God had forsaken him? She must have wondered if God had forsaken all of them. Did she remember meeting Jesus in Galilee, when he reached out to her and healed her soul? Did she recall feeling Jesus’ power to heal, to love, to bring peace? At that moment, her own spirit must have been emboldened to step forward and help Joseph take Jesus’ body down. To wrap his body in linen. To lay it in the tomb. To prepare the oils and return at dawn to anoint his body for burial.

As a mother myself, the most difficult for me to contemplate is Mary, Jesus’ mother. What must it have been like for her to see her child suffering this wickedly cruel death? Was she remembering how she had tried to be a good mother and keep him safe? How he had been lost in Jerusalem as a young boy, and how scared she was that he had been snatched away? Was she thinking about Simeon’s prophecy that her soul would be pierced by a sword one day? Was she agonizing over her helplessness, wanting to change places with her son, to die in his stead? Was she grieving as only a mother can grieve who survives her child?

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