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 for women in the Church today. However, feminist interpreters have discovered that Luke's portrait of women is ambiguous at best and hazardous at worst. Choosing the Better Part? 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. Choosing the Better Part? examines a number of possible approaches to the texts (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.
Reid has written this work not as the definitive interpretation of the Lukan stories of women, but as an aid in critical biblical study, coupled with reflection on experiences of the global community and reliance on the Spirit to "choose the better part" to bring fullness of life for all. Barbara E. Reid, OP, holds a PhD in biblical studies from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and is assistant professor of New Testament studies at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. Her scholarly interests center on Luke- Acts, Paul, and feminist interpretation of Scripture. Her most recent articles appeared in Biblical Research, The Bible Today, and New Theology Review.