“The life of Jesus cannot be told without the women who interacted with him,” writes Bonnie Ring in her provocative Women Who Knew Jesus. Based on retreats the author—a psychotherapist, feminist and Episcopal priest—has conducted over the years, this book looks at the many instances Jesus’s life intersected with women in the Gospels.
Living in the 21st century, it can be difficult to imagine just how revolutionary Christ was in his time. In first century Palestine, women were seen as second- and third-class citizens. They were expected to stay home, avoiding any contact with men unless they were family, and they were not allowed to be educated. Yet, Jesus interacts with women as if he is their brother, Ring contends; he befriends them, touches them, heals them, and teaches them. Ultimately, he casts away taboos. From his encounter with his own mother in the Temple when he is 12, to his healing Simon’s mother-in-law, to his dialogue with the Samaritan woman at the well (and many others), he is someone who “responds with empathy, compassion, and concern. It is through his humanness that he reveals the magnitude of God’s love.”
Ring is a lively, thoughtful author. Mixing personal anecdotes with intelligent scriptural exegeses, she maintains a consistent and contemplative voice throughout. You sense that the author not only cares deeply about her material, but about readers as well. Along the way, she offers questions for reflections and short meditations to help readers engage with the stories on a more personal level.
Although aimed at both men and women, Ring’s book addresses the needs of the feminine heart and soul and offers a unique, often-overlooked perspective on Jesus. Erudite, compassionate and probing, this book is perfect for church groups and those seeking a portrait of Christ that emphasizes mercy and equality.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.