Women noted in Scripture

Ursuline Center offers series




Sister Patricia McNicholas will delve into the named and unnamed women of the Bible in the Women in Scripture series for Lent at the Ursuline Center.

The names Eve, Martha and her sister, Mary, Elizabeth, Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Jesus, may be familiar to those who read the Bible. But, there are other women mentioned in the Bible whose names have been lost.

Sister Patricia said Scripture scholars offer the explanation of a male-dominated culture at that time.

She also noted that “Scripture is not a historical document but a document of meaning that calls us to faith.” There is history mixed in, she said.

Sister Patricia said her presentations will include readings from some passages from the Bible. “A word or phrase may speak to us and promote faith sharing,” she said.

As an example, she cited Luke 24:13 that reads: “And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.”

She said “two of them” aren’t identified ... are they two women, two men or a man and woman? A previous passage, Luke 24:10, reads: “It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.” So, might the “two of them” be the women mentioned, or not?

That passage from Luke also highlights the unnamed women in the Bible “and the other women.”

Sister Patricia said Scripture often refers to God as “almighty,” but there are many other references including ones alluding to nature and feminine ones as well. “God is also portrayed as gentle and compassionate,” she said.

A favorite passage of hers is from Deuteronomy 32:18: “You were unmindful of the rock that begot you. You forgot the God who gave you birth.”

“It’s an image of God as life giver,” she said. “But God isn’t male or female ... God is God.”

In the beginning of Matthew, the “begat” passages mention Ruth, Tamar, Rahab and wife of Uriah. “The tradition of genealogy traces the history of the male side,” Sister Patricia said. These “begat” passages mention these four women and end with the mention of Joseph, husband of Mary.

In the anointing at Bethany, an unnamed woman is mentioned in Matthew 26:6-1 3, Mark 14:3-9 and Luke 7:36-50 while John 12:1-8 notes Mary of Bethany and the home of Martha and Mary. “Each one is a little different,” Sister Patricia said. Those differences will prompt discussion.

Mark 14:9 reads: “Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.”

We don’t know who “she” is, Sister Patricia pointed out, but the passage provides the basis for speculation and discussion.

In the Book of Revelation, a passage of 12:1 refers to “the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.” The Blessed Mother often is depicted with stars, but the reference is “her” and not a name.

The series also will discuss the development of the Bible, methods of reading the Bible, images of God, a method of finding women in the Bible, reflection on the cross and resurrection in women’s lives, an appreciation of women in the Bible and the church and mention of Eve, Mary, Elizabeth and Mary Magdalene.

Sister Patricia is the former executive director at Beatitude House, where she now is senior development officer. She recently participated in the Hesburgh Sabbatical program at Catholic Theologtical Union, University of Chicago.

She described the program as one for “those in transition.” She was in a group with 11 priests hailing from South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Zimbabwe, Ghana and the United States, which reflected cultural diversity.

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