In a new piece for Christianity Today online, Andreas Köstenberger and I look at Five Errors to Drop from Your Easter Sermon. Here is a comment on the role of the women that may be helpful to remember:
As you preach this Easter, do not bypass the testimony of the women as an incidental detail.
In the first century, women were not even eligible to testify in a Jewish court of law.
Josephus said that even the witness of multiple women was not acceptable “because of the levity and boldness of their sex.”
Celsus, the second-century critic of Christianity, mocked the idea of Mary Magdalene as an alleged resurrection witness, referring to her as a “hysterical female . . . deluded by . . . sorcery.”
This background matters because it points to two crucial truths.
First, it is a theological reminder that the kingdom of the Messiah turns the system of the world on its head. Into this culture, Jesus radically affirmed the full dignity of women and the vital value of their witness.
Second, it is a powerful apologetic reminder of the historical accuracy of the resurrection accounts. If these were “cleverly devised myths” (2 Pet. 1:16), women would never have been presented as the first eyewitnesses of the risen Christ.
For a quick guide to the identity of these women, go here.