Woman (chr.)

 
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(Turk. Kadın)

The question of the role of women in Christianity is a story fraught with many problems. A distinction must be made between the fundamental (theoretical) view of the nature of women expressed in the bases of Christian faith, on the one hand, and the practical reality in which women have lived and continue to live in cultures influenced by Christianity on the other. In the view of Christianity, all people are fundamentally equal in human dignity, regardless of ethnicity, social status or gender: ‘There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’ (Galatians 3:28). The equality of man and woman that Paul traces to Christ’s redemptive work is founded in God’s act of creation at the outset of the Old Testament: According to the first account of creation, mankind was created in God’s own image, man and woman alike and both from the same source (Genesis 1:27). In the second account of creation, however, an ambivalence is announced in the judgement of woman, an ambivalence that continues throughout Biblical Scripture: The first woman was created from one of Adam’s ribs (Genesis 2:21-25), seduced Adam to the fall from grace, and as punishment was subjected to the authority of the man (Genesis 3:1-16; cf. Ephesians 5:22‑24; 1 Corinthians 14:34 f.; 1 Timothy 2:12‑14). Of Jesus it is testified that he devoted himself to women just as unconditionally as to men, which also brought him criticism. The Gospels concur that the resurrected Jesus first appeared to the women (Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-13; Luke 24:12), an event read as an unheard-of distinction vis-à-vis their male counterparts, who were initially unable to believe the message of the resurrection. While there are reports of outstanding female figures to be found in both the Old and New Testaments (prophets, Mary the Mother of Jesus, missionaries), without a doubt both the image of God and the figures of the Bible are predominantly male (Jesus, too, the perfect and final self-disclosure of God, is a man). This fact has been reinforced in the course of church and theological history, particularly where the hierarchy of offices is concerned, offices that in the Protestant churches are predominantly and in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches are exclusively (and as a matter of principle) occupied by men. Equality for women currently does not occur (or occurs only to a limited degree) within the sphere of the church and instead is a feature (and a goal far from realisation) of a secular society and a secular state for which the Christian notion of equality of all people is nevertheless an important prerequisite.

Martin Thurner

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