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martha & mary: jesus the feminist & the destruction of privatised religion

Well-trodden.

That’s probably the adjective I would use to describe Luke 10:38-42, otherwise known as the story of Martha and Mary.

It would be an understatement to say that much has been written about this passage, particularly at a popular level. Music (“worship”) leaders love it! Martha, it is said, thinks the appropriate response to Jesus being present in her house is working, or serving – cleaning, cooking, whatever domestic duty the interpreter conjures up.

Mary on the other hand is said to really get what Jesus wants, which is to sit at his feet and listen – to be rather than to do.

This is a reading that has featured in middle class interpretation, and it suffices to legitimate a split-level faith in which being and doing can be separated, as can private and public religion, or faith (Mary) and works (Martha).

The problem is that this is not what the story is about. Read the rest of this entry

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