Jesus and Marginal Women: The Gospel of Matthew in Social-Scientific Perspective

By Stuart L. Love

An illuminating study of gender inclusiveness and marginality in the Gospel of Matthew, using ideas and methods drawn from anthropology and the social sciences.

ISBN: 9780227173169


The Gospel of Matthew recounts several interactions between Jesus and the ‘marginal’ women of his society. The urban, relatively wealthy community for which Matthew writes faces a number of issues, including whether or how it will uphold Jesus’s inclusive vision to honour rural Israelite and non-Israelite outcast women in its midst.

Will the Matthean community be faithful to Jesus’s message of inclusiveness? Or will it give way to the crystallized gender social stratification so characteristic of Greco-Roman society as a whole? Employing social-scientific models and careful use of comparative data, Love examines structural marginality, social role marginality, ideological marginality, and cultural marginality relative to these interactions with Jesus. He also brings to bear models of gender analysis, social stratification, healing, rites of passage, patronage, and prostitution, models through which the reader can gain a better understanding of the community reaction to the social vision of Jesus’ unconventional kin group.

Additional information

Dimensions229 × 153 mm


Trade InformationJPOD

About the Author

Stuart L. Love is Professor of New Testament and Christian Ministry at Pepperdine University. He is also a member of The Context Group, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the Catholic Biblical Association.


List of Figures

1. Introduction
2. The Household in Matthew
3. Women and Men in Public Settings in Matthew
4. Models
5. Jesus Heals the Hemorrhaging Woman and Restores a Girl to Life
6. Jesus Heals the Canaanite Woman’s Daughter
7. The Woman Who Anoints Jesus
8. Jesus and the Women at the Cross and Tomb
9. Conclusion



Endorsements and Reviews

Stuart Love persuasively argues that while the Gospel of Matthew does not advocate social and gender egalitarianism, it does attempt to promote Jesus’s vision of a new surrogate family of God that challenges the structures of the agrarian household. This book is a welcome addition to studies on the Gospel of Matthew as well as those on women in early Christianity.
Alicia Batten, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, University of Sudbury

Love’s original studies of Matthean passages about women combine redaction criticism with Gerhard Lenski’s macro-social model of an advanced agrarian society and anthropological themes such as male and female space. They show how the Matthean writer follows Jesus in granting dignity to women in a community-as-surrogate-family. Like the Matthean writer, Love brings out of his treasure room old and new; and like the Matthean disciples, students and scholars alike will understand with new insight.
Dennis C. Duling, Professor Emeritus, Canisius College

… much can be gleaned from this clearly written work.
Steve Motye, London School of Theology, in Theology

Love offers a careful, and often subtle, study, which is transparent about its methodology at every stage. Although of most benefit to students of Matthew, or those engaged in social-scientific readings, it also reflects on contemporary implications for the church in a very different, advanced industrial society.
Ian K. Boxall, in Journal for the Study of The New Testament, Vol 33.5

One can only applaud what Love is endeavouring to do here. He is charting the shift from the advanced agrarian household of Graeco-Roman society to the new surrogate household of the Kingdom of Heaven, by recounting the interactions between Jesus and women, especially ‘marginal’ women, and showing how they are given their true dignity in the Matthean community.
Nicholas King, in The Heythrop Journal, Vol 54, Issue 5

Love’s study is rich with stimulating exegetical insights.
Dorothy Jean Weaver, in Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology, Vol 65, No 4