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Choosing the Better Part?

Because the Gospel of Luke includes more stories about women than any other Gospel, many find it is the most helpful in the search for equality in the Church today. However, feminist interpreters have discovered that Luke's portrait of women is ambiguous at best and hazardous at worst. This study focuses on the sayings of Jesus and on the passages in the Gospel of Luke in which women figure as characters. It suggests that these stories be reinterpreted and reconsidered from a feminist perspective, so that readers may know how to "choose the better part" toward equality and inclusivity. While there certainly are women disciples in Luke and Acts, their role is presented by the third evangelist as clearly different from that of the men. They are portrayed primarily as silent and passive. Their ministry is carried out behind-the-scenes, supporting the more visible, public ministries of the male disciples. This commentary shows that there is more than one way to read the biblical tradition and that it matters vitally how one reads it. The book examines a number of possible approaches to the text (critical, literary and narrative), and uncovers their presuppositions and their consequences - helping both women and men, particularly those who preach and teach the Scriptures - to do so in a way that will promote a Church of equal disciples, where gender differences no longer dictate ministerial roles.
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About the Author

Barbara E. Reid, OP, is a Dominican Sister of Grand Rapids, Michigan. She holds a PhD in biblical studies from The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, and is professor of New Testament and vice president and academic dean at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. Her most recent books are Taking Up the Cross: New Testament Interpretations Through Latina and Feminist Eyes (Fortress Press, 2007), The Gospel According to Matthew (Liturgical Press, 2005), Parables for Preachers (3 volumes; Liturgical Press, 1999, 2 , 2001), and Choosing the Better Part? Women in the Gospel of Luke (Liturgical Press, 1996). She is general editor for Wisdom Commentary Series (forthcoming from Liturgical Press).


This is a solid and well-written book, one that offers a host of enticing leads for preaching and teaching.The Bible Today More important even than the fresh interpretations of texts on women in the Gospel of Luke are Reid's methodological precision and the care with which she accompanies readers on the journey into and through these texts. In addition to offering rich background material and meticulous textual analysis, she describes the benefits and pitfalls of various reading strategies that will allow a liberating voice the 'better part' to be heard through, beneath, or even against Luke's words. This book is an essential resource for the classroom, Bible study group, and preacher's library alike.Sharon H. Ringe, Wesley Theological Seminary The frequent discussions of interpretive possibilities for contemporary women make this a very useful guide to the Gospel as a whole and in its individual passages for all who try to integrate the message of Jesus into their lives.Carolyn Osiek, RSCJ, Catholic Theological Union

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