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Stone Age woman with deformities may have been shunned by her community

Stone Age woman with deformities may have been shunned by her community

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A case of possible ostracism because of deformation caused by rickets has come to light in an ancient burial from the Scottish island of Tiree. The remains of the Stone Age woman, buried about 5,000 years ago, show the first known case of rickets in the United Kingdom—and it was a rather severe condition in her case. She was misshapen from the disease, which can be caused by lack of vitamin D.

Researchers say the woman may have had low status in her community and was buried just with some rocks and a single quartzite pebble. Or, it is possible, suggests the team of archaeologists led by Professor Ian Armit, that she was a person of some spiritual status to her people.

Archaeologists determine whether a prehistoric person was of high or low status by the richness or lack thereof of grave goods. A person buried with jewelry, pottery, weapons, artworks and other artifacts is considered to have high status. The more valuable the artifacts, the higher in society the person is believed to have stood. People buried with no grave goods in some cultures may have been of lesser social status. People of high status at that time in Britain were buried in chambered tombs, not just with simple gravestone markers.

This woman’s simple burial and “grave goods”—a paltry pebble—show a particular lack of concern for her journey in the afterlife. The researchers say if she had been a spiritual or religious figure, she probably would have had a more elaborate burial. That led them to tentatively conclude she was of low status or even a despised person because of her deformities.

An X-ray of the curved leg bones of a child suffering from rickets ( Wikimedia Commons )

The researchers, from the universities of Bradford and Durham, said bones in her chest, ribs, arms and legs show signs of rickets. This, they conclude, was from a lack of vitamin D, which the body produces during exposure to sunlight. These deformities gave her a pigeon-chest and deformed limbs, which accounted for her hunched posture in the grave, which was exhumed along with three other burials by amateurs in 1912. She was assumed then to have lived at the same time as the people of a nearby Iron Age community that had been excavated.

Armit and his team speculate she was possibly a slave forced to stay indoors or she wore clothing that covered her completely, preventing sunlight from reaching her skin, the Daily Mail reports .

She was between 4 feet 9 inches (145 cm) and 4 feet 11 inches (150 cm) tall. That was short for a time when women averaged about 5 feet, the researchers say.

Armit and his team recently did radiocarbon dating to determine that she lived between 3340 and 3090 BC, during the New Stone Age or Neolithic period. They also analyzed elements in her teeth to get clues about her diet and found she may have suffered from stress such as malnutrition or disease when she was between 4 and 14 years of age. Analysis of isotopes in the teeth showed she was local to Tiree.

A Neolithic chambered tomb in Kilkeel, United Kingdom; researchers say Neolithic people of high social status were buried in such tombs, not just with a few stones marking the grave. (Photo by Eric Jones/ Wikimedia Commons )

Neolithic people on the island likely spent much time outside and probably ate a lot of fish. The analysis revealed that she didn’t eat sea fish, which would have given her the vitamin D she would have needed to prevent contraction of rickets.

“The questions remains as to how anyone could have contracted rickets on Neolithic Tiree,' the researchers wrote in their paper. “'Vitamin D deficiency should not be a problem for anyone exposed to a rural outdoor lifestyle and able to metabolise vitamin D - certain genetic conditions can prevent the efficient production of vitamin D, but these are extremely rare.”

It’s possible, they said, that initial illness may have led to her confinement indoors and resulting shielding from the sun, which would have led to a vicious cycle of vitamin D deficiency.

The previous earliest known case of rickets in Britain dated to the Roman era around the turn of the first millennium AD.

Featured image: The bent and hunched bones of the woman with rickets. (Images by the journal Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society)

By Mark Miller

Top 10 Bizarre Witch Burials

The extreme nature of &ldquowitch&rdquo burials reflects how deep our fear of sorcery goes&mdasheven from beyond the grave. It is not uncommon for the witches to be weighed down or have their jaws forced open. The designation &ldquowitch&rdquo is political. Because belief in divination and curses is universal to humans, spell-casters are always an easy scapegoat. Often, unexplained illnesses and misfortune are attributed to witchcraft. Many of these &ldquowitches&rdquo suffered from physical deformities, revealing our deep prejudice against anyone out of the norm.


With the establishment of Christian monasticism, other roles within the Church became available to women. From the 5th century onward, Christian convents provided an alternative to the path of marriage and child-rearing, to play a more active religious role.

Abbesses could become important figures in their own right, often ruling over monasteries of both men and women, and holding significant lands and power. Figures such as Hilda of Whitby (c. 614–680), became influential on a national and even international scale.

Spinning was one of a number of traditionally women's crafts at this time, [2] initially performed using the spindle and distaff the spinning wheel was introduced towards the end of the High Middle Ages.

For most of the Middle Ages, until the introduction of beer made with hops, brewing was done largely by women [3] this was a form of work which could take place at home. [2] In addition, married women were generally expected to assist their husbands in business. Such partnerships were facilitated by the fact that much work occurred in or near the home. [4] However, there are recorded examples from the High Middle Ages of women engaged in a business other than that of their husband. [4]

Midwifery was practised informally, gradually becoming a specialized occupation in the Late Middle Ages. [5] Women often died in childbirth, [6] although if they survived the child-bearing years, they could live as long as men, even into their 70s. [6] Life expectancy for women rose during the High Middle Ages, due to improved nutrition. [7]

Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122–1204) was one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in Western Europe during the High Middle Ages. She was the patroness of such literary figures as Wace, Benoît de Sainte-Maure, and Chrétien de Troyes. Eleanor succeeded her father as suo jure Duchess of Aquitaine and Countess of Poitiers at the age of 15, and thus became the most eligible bride in Europe.

Herrad of Landsberg, Hildegard of Bingen, and Héloïse d'Argenteuil were influential abbesses and authors during this period. Hadewijch of Antwerp was a poet and mystic. Both Hildegard of Bingen and Trota of Salerno were medical writers in the 12th century.

Female artisans in some cities were, like their male equivalents, organized in guilds. [8]

Regarding the role of women in the Church, Pope Innocent III wrote in 1210: "No matter whether the most blessed Virgin Mary stands higher, and is also more illustrious, than all the apostles together, it was still not to her, but to them, that the Lord entrusted the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven". [9]

In the Late Middle Ages women such as Saint Catherine of Siena and Saint Teresa of Ávila played significant roles in the development of theological ideas and discussion within the church, and were later declared Doctors of the Roman Catholic Church. The mystic Julian of Norwich was also significant in England.

Isabella I of Castile ruled a combined kingdom with her husband Ferdinand II of Aragon, and Joan of Arc successfully led the French army on several occasions during the Hundred Years' War.

Christine de Pizan was a noted late medieval writer on women's issues. Her Book of the City of Ladies attacked misogyny, while her The Treasure of the City of Ladies articulated an ideal of feminine virtue for women from walks of life ranging from princess to peasant's wife. [10] Her advice to the princess includes a recommendation to use diplomatic skills to prevent war:

"If any neighbouring or foreign prince wishes for any reason to make war against her husband, or if her husband wishes to make war on someone else, the good lady will consider this thing carefully, bearing in mind the great evils and infinite cruelties, destruction, massacres and detriment to the country that result from war the outcome is often terrible. She will ponder long and hard whether she can do something (always preserving the honour of her husband) to prevent this war." [11]

From the last century of the Middle Ages onwards, restrictions began to be placed on women's work, and guilds became increasingly male-only some of the reasons may have been the rising status and political role of guilds and the increasing competition from cottage industries, which prompted the guilds to tighten their entrance requirements. [8] Female property rights also began to be curtailed during this period. [12] [ why? ]

Medieval marriage was both a private and social matter. According to canon law, the law of the Catholic Church, marriage was a concrete exclusive bond between husband and wife giving the husband all power and control in the relationship. [13] Husband and wife were partners and were supposed to reflect Adam and Eve. Even though wives had to submit to their husbands' authority, wives still had rights in their marriages. McDougall concurs with Charles Reid's argument that both men and women shared rights in regards to sex and marriage which includes: "the right to consent to marriage, the right to ask for marital debt or conjugal (sexual) duty, the right to leave a marriage when they either suspected it was invalid or had grounds to sue for separation, and finally the right to choose one's own place of burial, death being the point at which a spouse's ownership of the other spouse's body ceased". [14]

Regionally and across the time span of the Middle Ages, marriage could be formed differently. Marriage could be proclaimed in secret by the mutually consenting couple, or arranged between families as long as the man and woman were not forced and consented freely but by the 12th century in western canon law, consent (whether in mutual secrecy or in a public sphere) between the couple was imperative. [15] Marriages confirmed in secrecy were seen as problematic in the legal sphere due to spouses redacting and denying that the marriage was solidified and consummated. [16]

Peasants, slaves, and maidservants and generally lower class women needed the permission and consent of their master in order to marry someone and if they did not they were punished (see below in Law).

Marriage also allowed for the couples' social networks to expand. This was according to Bennett (1984) who investigated the marriage of Henry Kroyl Jr. and Agnes Penifader, and how their social spheres changed after their marriage. Due to the couples' fathers, Henry Kroyl Sr. and Robert Penifader being prominent villagers in Brigstock, Northamptonshire, approximately 2,000 references to the activities of the couple and their immediate families were being recorded. Bennett details how Kroyl Jr.'s social network expanded greatly as he gained connections through his occupational endeavors.

Agnes' connections expanded also based on Kroyl Jr.'s new connections. However, Bennett also signifies that a familial alliance between the couples' families of origin did not form. Kroyl Jr. had limited contact with his father after his marriage, and his social network expanded from the business he conducted with his brothers and other villagers. Agnes, though all contact with her family did not cease, her social network expanded to her husband's family of origin and his new connections.

Widowhood and remarriage Edit

Upon the death of a spouse, widows could gain power in inheriting their husbands' property as opposed to adult sons. Male-preference primogeniture stipulated that the male heir was to inherit their deceased father's land and in cases of no sons, the eldest daughter would inherit property. However, widows could inherit property when they had minor sons, or if provisions were made for them to inherit. [17] Peter Franklin (1986) investigated the women tenants of Thornbury during the Black Death due to the higher than average proportion of women tenants. Through court rolls, he found that many widows in this area independently held land successfully. He argued that some widows may have remarried due to keeping up with their tenure and financial difficulties of holding their inherited land, or community pressures for the said widow to remarry if she had a male servant living in her home. Remarriage would put the widow back under the thumb and control of her new husband. [18] However, some widows never remarried and held the land until their deaths, thereby ensuring their independence. Even young widows, who would have had an easier time remarrying, remained independent and unmarried. Franklin considers the lives of widows to have been "liberating" because women had more autonomous control over their lives and property they were able to "argue their own cases in court, hire labour, and cultivate and manage holdings successfully". [18]

Franklin also discusses that some Thornbury widows had second and even third marriages. Remarriage would have affected inheritance of property, especially if the widow had children with her second husband however there are several cases where sons from the widow's first marriage were able to inherit before the second husband. [19]

McDougall also notes like the varying forms of marriage, the canon law regarding remarriage varied across regions. Both men and women could have been permitted to freely remarry or may have been restricted and/or deemed to serve penance before remarrying. [20]

In the Middle Ages the upper socioeconomic groups generally included royalty and nobility. Conduct books from the period present an image of the role of elite women being to obey their spouse, guard their virtue, produce offspring, and to oversee the operation of the household. For those women who did adhere to these traditional roles, the responsibilities could be considerable, with households sometimes including dozens of people. Further, when their husbands were away the role of women could increase substantially. By the High and Late Middle Ages there were numerous royal and noble women who assumed control of their husbands' domains in their absence, including defense and even bearing arms. [21]

Noble women were natural parts of the cultural and political environments of their time due to their positions and kinship. Particularly when acting as regents, elite women would assume the full feudal, economic, political and judicial powers of their husbands or young heirs. These women were never prohibited during the Middle Ages from receiving fiefdoms or owning real property during their husbands' lives. Noble women were often patrons of literature, art, monasteries and convents, and religious men. It was not uncommon for them to be knowledgeable in Latin literature. [22]

As with peasant men, the life of peasant women was difficult. Women at this level of society are usually considered to have had considerable gender equality, [2] (though some scholars have argued that they had fundamentally the same subordinate status as women elsewhere in medieval society [23] ) but this often meant shared poverty. Until nutrition improved, their life expectancy at birth was significantly less than that of male peasants: perhaps 25 years. [24] As a result, in some places there were four men for every three women. [24]

Chris Middleton made these general observations about English peasant women: "A peasant woman's life was, in fact, hemmed in by prohibition and restraint." [25] If single, women had to submit to the male head of her household if married, to her husband, under whose identity she was subsumed. English peasant women generally could not hold lands for long, rarely learnt any craft occupation and rarely advanced past the position of assistants, and could not become officials.

Peasant women had numerous restrictions placed on their behaviour by their lords. If a woman was pregnant, and not married, or had sex outside of marriage, the lord was entitled to compensation. The control of peasant women was a function of financial benefits to the lords. They were not motivated by women's moral state. Also during this period, sexual activity was not regulated, with couples simply living together outside a formal ceremony, provided they had permission by their lord. Even without a feudal lord involved with her life, a woman still had supervision by their father, brothers or other male members of the family. Women had little control over their own lives. [26]

Middleton provided some exceptions: English peasant women, on their own behalf, could plead in manorial courts some female freeholders enjoyed immunities from male peers and landlords and some trades (such as ale-brewing), provided female workers with independence. Still, Middleton viewed these as exceptions which required historians only to modify, rather than revise, "the essential model of female subservience." [25]

Overview of the medieval European economy Edit

In medieval Western Europe, society and economy were rural-based. Ninety percent of the European population lived in the countryside or in small towns. [27] Agriculture played an important role in sustaining this rural-based economy. [28] Due to the lack of mechanical devices, activities were performed mostly by human labour. [27] Both men and women participated in the medieval workforce and most workers were not paid by wages for their labor, but instead independently worked on their land and produced their own goods for consumption. [28] Whittle cautioned against the "modern assumption that active economic involvement and hard work translate into status and wealth" because during Middle Ages, hard work only ensured survival against starvation. In fact, although peasant women worked as hard as peasant men, they suffered many disadvantages such as fewer landholdings, occupational exclusions, and lower wages. [29]

Landownership Edit

To prosper, medieval Europeans needed rights to own land, dwellings, and goods. [28]

Land-ownership involved various inheritance patterns, according to the potential heir's gender across the landscape of medieval Western Europe. Primogeniture prevailed in England, Normandy, and the Basque region: In the Basque region, the eldest child -regardless of sex- inherited all lands [ citation needed ] . In Normandy, only sons could inherit lands. In England, the eldest son usually inherited all properties, but sometimes sons inherited jointly, daughters would inherit only if there were no sons. In Scandinavia, sons received twice as much as daughters' inheritance, yet siblings of the same sex received equal shares. In northern France, Brittany, and the Holy Roman Empire, sons and daughters enjoyed partible inheritance: each child would receive an equal share regardless of sex (but Parisian parents could favour some children over others). [30]

Female land-owners, single or married, could grant or sell land as they deemed fit. [31] Women managed the estates when their husbands left for war, political affairs, and pilgrimages. [31] Nevertheless, as time passed, women were increasingly given, as dowries, movable properties such as good and cash instead of land. Even though up the year 1000 female landownership had been increasing, afterwards female landownership began to decline. [32] Commercialization also contributed to the decline in female landownership as more women left the countryside to work for wages as servants or day labourers. [27] Medieval widows independently managed and cultivated their deceased husbands' lands. [32] Overall, widows were preferred over children to inherit lands: indeed, English widows would receive one third of the couples' shared properties, but in Normandy widows could not inherit. [33]

Labor Edit

Generally, research has determined that there is limited gender division of labor among peasant men and women. Rural historian Jane Whittle described this gender division of labor thus: "Labor was divided according to the workers' gender. Some activities were restricted to either men or women other activities were preferred to be performed by one gender over the other:" e.g. men ploughed, mowed, and threshed and women gleaned, cleared weeds, bound sheaves, made hay, and collected wood and yet others were performed by both, such as harvesting. [27]

A woman's standing as a worker might vary depending on circumstances. Generally, women were required to have male guardians who would assume legal liability for them in legal and economic matters: For the wives of elite merchants in Northern Europe [ vague ] , their roles extended to commercial undertakings both with their husbands and on their own, however in Italy tradition and law excluded them from commerce [21] in Ghent, women had to have guardians unless these women had been emancipated or were prestigious merchants Norman women were forbidden to contract business ventures French women could litigate business matters, but could not plead in courts without their husbands, unless they had suffered from their husbands' abuses [34] Castilian wives, during the Reconquista, enjoyed favourable legal treatments, worked in family-oriented trades and crafts, sold goods, kept inns and shops, became domestic servants for wealthier households Christian Castilian wives labored along with Jewish and Muslim free-born women and slaves. Yet over time Castilian wives' work became associated with or even subordinated to that of their husbands, and when the Castilian frontier region had been stabilized, Castilian wives' legal standing deteriorated. [35]

Both peasant men and women worked in the home and out in the fields. In looking at coroner records, which represent the lives of peasants more clearly, Barbara Hanawalt found that 30% of women died in their homes compared to 12% of men 9% of women died on a private property (i.e. a neighbour's house, a garden area, manor house, etc.) compared to 6% of men 22% of women died in public areas within their village (i.e. greens, streets, churches, markets, highways, etc.) compared to 18% of men. [36] Men dominated accidental deaths within fields at 38% compared to 18% of women, and men had 4% more accidental deaths in water than women did. Accidental deaths of women (61%) occurred within their homes and villages while men had only 36%. [36] This information correlated with the activities and labours regarding the maintenance and responsibilities of working in a household. These include: food preparation, laundry, sewing, brewing, getting water, starting fires, tending to children, collecting produce, and working with domestic animals. Outside of the household and village, 4% of women died in agricultural accidents compared to 19% of men, and no women died from labors of construction or carpentry. [36] The division of gendered labour may be due to women's being at risk of danger, like being attacked, raped and losing their virginity, in doing work in the fields or outside of the home and village. [36]

Three main activities performed by peasant men and women were planting foods, keeping livestock, and making textiles, as depicted in Psalters from southern Germany and England. Women of different classes performed different activities: rich urban women could be merchants like their husbands or even became money lenders middle-class women worked in the textile, inn-keeping, shop-keeping, and brewing industries while poorer women often peddled and huckstered foods and other merchandise in the market places, or worked in richer households as domestic servants, day laborers, or laundresses. [37] Modern historians assumed that only women were assigned childcare and thus had to work near their home, yet childcare responsibilities could be fulfilled far from the home and -except breastfeeding- were not exclusive to women. [32] In spite of the patriarchal medieval European culture, [38] which posited female inferiority, opposed female independence, [28] so that female workers could not contract out their labour services without their husband's' approval, [39] widows have been recorded to act as independent economic agents meanwhile, a married woman -mostly from among the female artisans- could, under some limited circumstances, exercise some agency as a femme sole, identified legally and economically as separate from her husband: she could learn artisan skills from her parents as their apprentice, she could work alone, conduct business, contract her labours, or even plead in law-courts. [40]

There was evidence that women performed not only housekeeping responsibilities like cooking and cleaning, but even other household activities like grinding, brewing, butchering, and spinning and produced items like flour, ale, meat, cheese, and textile for direct consumption and for sale. [29] An anonymous 15th-century English ballad appreciated activities performed by English peasant women such as housekeeping, making foodstuffs and textiles, and childcare. [29] Even though cloth-making, brewing, and dairy production were trades associated with female workers, male cloth-makers and brewers increasingly displaced female workers, especially after water-mills, horizontal looms, and hop-flavoured beers were invented. These inventions favoured commercial cloth-making and brewing dominated by male workers who had more time, wealth, and access to credit and political influence and who produced goods for sale instead of for direct consumption. Meanwhile, women were increasingly relegated to low-paying tasks like spinning. [41]

Besides working independently on their own lands, women could hire themselves out as servants or wage-workers. Medieval servants performed works as required by the employer's household: men cooked and cleaned while women did the laundry. Like their independent rural workers, rural wage-labourers performed complementary tasks based on a gendered division of labour. Women were paid only half as much as men even though both sexes performed similar tasks. [42]

After the Black Death killed a large part of the European population and led to severe labour shortages, women filled out the occupational gaps in the cloth-making and agricultural sectors. [43] Simon Penn argued that the labour shortages after the Black Death furnished economic opportunities for women, but Sarah Bardsley and Judith Bennett countered that women were paid about 50-75% of men's wages. Bennett attributed this gender-based wage-gap to patriarchal prejudices which devalued women's work, yet John Hatcher disputed Bennet's claim: he pointed out that men and women received the same wages for the same piece-work, but women received lower day-wages because they were physically weaker and might have had to sacrifice working hours for other domestic duties. Whittle stated that the debate has not yet been settled. [44]

To illustrate, the late medieval poem Piers Plowman paints a pitiful picture of the life of the medieval peasant woman:

"Burdened with children and landlords' rent
What they can put aside from what they make spinning they spend on housing,
Also on milk and meal to make porridge with
To sate their children who cry out for food
And they themselves also suffer much hunger,
And woe in wintertime, and waking up nights
To rise on the bedside to rock the cradle,
Also to card and comb wool, to patch and to wash,
To rub flax and reel yarn and to peel rushes
That it is pity to describe or show in rhyme
The woe of these women who live in huts" [45]

Peasant women and health Edit

Peasant women during the time period were subjected to a number of superstitious practices when it came to their health. In The Distaff Gospels, a collection of 15th-century French women's lore, advice for women's health was plentiful. "For a fever, write the first 3 words of the Our Father on a sage leaf, eat it in the morning for 3 days and you will be cured." [46]

Male involvement with women's healthcare was widespread. However, there were limits to male participation because of the resistance to males' viewing women's genitalia. [47] During most encounters with male medical practitioners, women remained clothed because viewing a women's body was considered shameful.

Childbirth was treated as the most important aspect of women's health during the period however, few historical texts document the experience. Women attendants assisted in childbirth and passed their experiences to one another. Midwives, women who attended childbirth, were acknowledged as legitimate medical specialists and were granted a special role in women's health care. [48] There is Roman documentation in Latin works evidencing the professional role of midwives and their involvement with gynaecological care. [48] Women were healers and engaged in medical practices. In 12th-century Salerno, Italy, Trota, a woman, wrote one of the Trotula texts on diseases of women. [49] Her text, Treatments for Women, addressed events in childbirth that called for medical attention. The book was a compilation of three original texts and quickly became the basis for the treatment of women. Based on medical information developed in Greek and Roman eras, these texts discussed ailments, disease, and possible treatments for women's health issues.

The Abbess Hildegard of Bingen, classed among medieval singlewomen, wrote, in her 12th-century treatise Physica and Causae et Curae, about many issues concerning women's health. Hildegard was one of the most well known of medieval medical authors. In particular, Hildegard contributed much valuable knowledge in the use of herbs as well as observations regarding women's physiology and spirituality. In nine sections, Hildegard's volume reviews the medical uses for plants, the earth's elements (earth, water, and air), and animals. Also included are investigations of metals and jewels. Hildegard also explored such issues as laughter, tears, and sneezing, on the one hand, and poisons and aphrodisiacs, on the other. Her work was compiled in a religious environment but also relied on past wisdom and new findings about women's health. Hildegard's work not only addresses illness and cures but also explores the theory of medicine and the nature of women's bodies. [49]

Diet Edit

Just as Classical Greco-Roman writers, including Aristotle, Pliny the Elder, and Galen, assumed that men lived longer than women, [50] medieval Catholic bishop Albertus Magnus agreed that in general men lived longer, but he observed that some women live longer and posited that it was per accidens, thanks to the purification resulting from menstruation and that women worked less but also consumed less than men. [51] Modern historians Bullough and Campbell instead attribute high female mortality during the Middle Ages to deficiency in iron and protein as a result of the diet during the Roman period and the early Middle Ages. Medieval peasants subsisted upon grain-heavy, protein-poor and iron-poor diets, eating breads of wheat, barley, and rye dipped in broth, and rarely enjoying nutritious supplements like cheese, eggs, and wine. [52] Physiologically speaking, women require at least twice as much iron as men because women inevitably lose iron through menstrual discharge as well as to events related to child bearing, including fetal needs bleeding during childbirth, miscarriage, and abortion and lactation. As the human body better absorbs iron from liver, iron salts, and meat than from grains and vegetables, the grain-heavy medieval diet commonly resulted in iron deficiency and, by extension, general anemia for medieval women. However, anemia was not the leading cause of death for women rather anemia, which lessens the amount of hemoglobin in blood, would further aggravate such other diseases as pneumonia, bronchitis, emphysema, and heart diseases. [53]

Since the 800s, the invention of a more efficient type of plough—along with three-field replacing two-field crop rotation—allowed medieval peasants to improve their diets through planting, alongside wheat and rye in the fall, oats, barley, and legumes in the spring, including various protein-rich peas. [52] In the same period, rabbits were introduced from the Iberian Peninsula across the Alps to the Carolingian Empire, reaching England in the 12th century. Herring could be more effectively salted, and pork, cheese, and eggs were increasingly consumed throughout Europe, even by the lower classes. [52] As a result, Europeans of all classes consumed more proteins from meats than did people in any other part of the world during the same period—leading to population growth that almost outstripped resources at the onset of the devastating Black Death. [54] Bullough and Campbell further cite David Herlihy, who observes, based on available data, that in European cities in the 15th century, women outnumbered men, and although they did not have the "absolute numerical advantage over men," women were more numerous among the elderly. [51]

Law Edit

Cultural differences across Western and Eastern Europe meant that laws were neither universal nor universally practised. The Laws of the Salian Franks, a Germanic tribe that migrated into Gaul and converted to Christianity between the 6th and 7th centuries, provide a well-known example of a particular tribe's law codes. According to Salic Law, crimes and determined punishments were usually orated however as their contact with literate Romans increased, their laws became codified and developed into written language and text.

Peasants, slaves, and maidservants were considered as property of their free-born master(s). In some or perhaps most cases, the unfree person might be regarded as of the same value as their master's animals. However, peasants, slaves, and maidservants of the king were regarded as more valuable and even considered to be of the same value as free persons because they were members of the king's court.

Crimes concerning abduction

If someone were to abduct another person's slave or maidservant and were proven to have committed the crime, that individual would be responsible to pay 35 solidi, the value of the slave, and in addition a fine for lost time of use. If someone abducted another person's maidservant, the abductor would be fined 30 solidi. A proven seducer of a maidservant worth 15 or 25 solidi, and who is himself worth 25 solidi, would be fined 72 solidi plus the value of the maidservant. The proven abductor of a boy or girl domestic servant will be fined the value of the servant (25 or 35 solidi) plus an additional amount for lost time of use. [55]

Crimes concerning free-born persons marrying slaves

A free-born woman who marries a slave will lose her freedom and privileges as a free-born woman. She will also have her property taken away from her and will be proclaimed an outlaw. A free-born man who marries a slave or maidservant shall also lose his freedom and privilege as a free-born man. [4]

Crimes concerning fornication with slaves or maidservants

If a freeman fornicates with another person's maidservant and is proven to have done so, he will be required to pay the maidservant's master 15 solidi. If anyone fornicates with a maidservant of the king and proven to do so, the fine would be 30 solidi. If a slave fornicates with another person's maidservant and that maidservant dies, the slave will be fined and also be required to pay the maidservant's master 6 solidi and may be castrated or that slave's master will be required to pay the maidservant's master the value of the deceased maidservant. If a slave fornicates with a maidservant who does not die, the slave will either receive three hundred lashes or be required to pay the maidservant's master 3 solidi. If a slave marries another person's maidservant without her master's consent, the slave will either be whipped or required to pay the maidservant's master 3 solidi. [4]

Peasant women by status Edit

The first group of peasant women consisted of free landholders. Early records such as the Exon Domesday and Little Domesday attested that, among English land-owners, 10-14% noble thegns and non-noble free-tenants were women and Wendy Davies found records which showed that in 54% of property transactions, women could act independently or jointly with their husbands and sons. [31] Still, only after the 13th century are there records which better showed free female peasants' rights to land. [31] In addition, English manorial court-rolls recorded many activities carried out by free peasants such as selling and inheriting lands, paying rents, settling upon debts and credits, brewing and selling ale, and - if unfree - rendering labor services to lords. Free peasant women, unlike their male counterparts, could not become officers such as manorial jurors, constables, and reeves. [39]

The second category of medieval European workers were serfs. Conditions of serfdom applied to both genders. [39] Serfs did not enjoy property rights as did free tenants: serfs were restricted from leaving their lords' lands at will and were forbidden to dispose of their assigned holdings. [56] Both male and female serfs had to labor as part of their services to their lords and their required activities might be even specifically gendered by the lords. A serf woman would pass her serfdom status to her children in contrast, children would inherit gentry status from their father. [57] A serf could gain freedom when released by the lord, or after having escaped from the lord's control for one year plus one day, often into towns escaping serfs were rarely arrested. [58]

When female serfs got married, they had to pay fines to their lords. The first fine upon a female serf getting married was known as merchet, to be paid by her father to their lord the rationale was that the lord had lost a worker and her children. [59] [60] The second fine is the leyrwite, to be paid by a male or female serf who had committed sexual acts forbidden by the Church, for fear that the fornicating serf might have her marriage value lessened and thus the lord might not get the merchet. [61]

Chris Middleton cited other historians who demonstrated that lords often regulated their serfs' marriages to make sure that the serfs' landholdings would not be taken out of their jurisdiction. Lords could even force female serfs into involuntary marriages to ensure that the female serfs would be able to pro-create a new generation of workers. Over time, English lords increasingly favoured primogeniture inheritance patterns to prevent their serfs' landholdings from being broken up. [62]

10 People With Shocking and Extreme Deformities

This list will detail ten unfortunate individuals who have suffered from severe disfigurements. A few of these people, with the help of modern medicine, have been able to live a more normal life. Some of the following tales are tragic, and others inspire hope. Here are ten shocking stories:

Rudy Santos, a 69 year old from the Philippines, suffers from the ultra rare condition known as Craniopagus parasiticus or parasitic twin. He is the oldest person with this condition. Attached to Rudy&rsquos pelvis and abdomen are an extra pair of arms and a leg, which developed when his twin was absorbed into his body during pregnancy. Also connected to his body are an extra pair of nipples and an undeveloped head with an ear and hair.

Rudy became a national celebrity whilst traveling with a freak show during the 1970s and &rsquo80s. He would earn up to 20,000 pesos per night as the main attraction. It was at this show where he gained his stage name&mdashthe &lsquoOctoman&rsquo. Rudy was likened to a god, and women would line up to be with him.

Strangely, Rudy vanished in the late &rsquo80s and ended up living in extreme poverty for over ten years. In 2008, two doctors examined him to see whether surgery would be viable or not. They concluded that they would be able to remove the parasitic twin, but Rudy decided not to have the operation. He said that he had become fond the extra growth.

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Manar Maged&mdashborn in Cairo in 2004&mdashalso suffered from parasitic twin. Manar and her twin sister were fused together at the head. Her twin had no limbs and could only smile, blink and cry.

At ten months of age, Manar was taken to a hospital in Cairo after she became very ill. It was decided that without the removal of the parasitic twin, they would both die. Unfortunately, after they were separated, the twin died as it used the blood supply of Manar and could not survive without her. Less than a year later, Manar also died due to a brain infection which was caused by complications from the surgery.

Minh Anh is a Vietnamese orphan who was born with a mystery skin disorder which causes his skin to flake and form scales. His condition is thought to have been caused by Agent Orange&mdashthe defoliate chemical used by the USA during the Vietnam War. This condition causes him to overheat and his skin can become very uncomfortable without regular baths. Fellow orphans have nicknamed him &lsquoFish&rsquo. Minh used to be violent to staff members and other children at the orphanage, so they had to restrain him by tying him to his bed.

When Minh was young, he met Brenda, aged 79 from the UK and she travels to Vietnam annually to see him. They have formed a close bond over the years and have become good friends. Brenda has helped Minh in many ways at the orphanage&mdashshe persuaded the staff not to tie him up when he is violent and she has found him a friend to take him swimming every week, which is now Minh&rsquos favourite hobby.

Probably the most well-known person on this list is Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man. Born in 1836, the Englishman became a celebrity in London and also gained fame around the world. He was born with proteus syndrome&mdasha condition which causes huge lumps to develop on the skin and the bones to deform and thicken.

Joseph&rsquos mother died when he was eleven and he was rejected by his father. He left home at a young age and worked in Leicester before contacting a showman. He was the main act and gained his stage name&mdashthe &lsquoElephant Man&rsquo.

Due to the size of his head, Joseph had to sleep sitting up. His head was so heavy that it was impossible for him to sleep lying down. One night in 1890, he attempted to sleep &lsquolike normal people&rsquo and dislocated his neck in the process. He was found dead the next morning.

Read about this classic case in the words of the doctor who had a first-hand look at the Elephant Man. Buy The Elephant Man and Other Reminiscences at Amazon.com!

Didier Montalvo, from rural Colombia developed congenital melanocytic nevus, which causes moles to grow all over the body at an incredibly fast rate. As a result of this disease, a mole grew so large that it covered Didier&rsquos entire back. He was dubbed &lsquoturtle boy&rsquo by his peers as the huge mole looked like a shell.

Apparently, Didier was conceived on an eclipse and the locals believed his mole was the work of the devil. For this reason, he was shunned by other children and banned from the local school. When British surgeon Neil Bulstrode heard about Didier&rsquos condition, he travelled to Bogota so he could operate and remove the mole. Didier was six years old when the surgery was performed. It was a success and the whole mole was excised. After the operation, Didier now goes to school and lives a normal, happy life.

Mandy Sellars, from Lancashire, UK, was diagnosed with proteus syndrome&mdashthe same medical condition as Joseph Merrick. Proteus syndrome is extremely rare and it&rsquos thought to affect only 120 people worldwide. It has caused Mandy&rsquos legs to become extremely enlarged, weighing a total of 95 kilograms and measuring one meter in circumference. As her feet are so large, she has to buy specially fitted shoes which cost around $4000 dollars. She also has a personalized car, allowing her to drive without using her feet.

Doctors decided to amputate one of Mandy&rsquos legs after she contracted deep vein thrombosis and MRSA. After the operation, the remaining section of leg kept growing and became too heavy for her prosthetic. She has now received a new prosthetic leg which should last the rest of her life.

Petero Byakatonda is a boy from a small, rural town in Uganda who suffers from crouzon syndrome. This affects about one in every 25,000 births, but Petero&rsquos case is an extreme one. Crouzon syndrome causes malformation of the skull, which in turn pushes the eyeballs out of their sockets and the ears down, leading to problems with sight and hearing. In developed countries, the deformities caused by crouzon syndrome are usually treated very soon after birth but Petero did not receive this treatment as he lives hundreds of miles away from a hospital.

Petero&rsquos neighbors tormented and shunned him for his appearance and he locked himself away in his room, hardly ever leaving the house. A doctor noticed his condition when driving through Petero&rsquos village. The doctor raised enough money for Petero to travel to Austin, Texas, for life-changing surgery. He spent six months there while doctors re-shaped his skull. This put a lot pressure off his optic nerve and brain. A second operation was needed to reconstruct the bone around Petero&rsquos eyes. Complications occurred during the second surgery&mdashhe lost 80% of his total blood volume and his condition turned critical. Luckily, he survived and he now lives a happy life in his village.

José Mestre from Lisbon, Portugal, developed a huge facial deformity which started growing on his lips when he was fourteen. Over the years, this tumor grew to be over five kilograms in weight. It caused him to become blind in one eye and made it very hard for him to breathe, eat and sleep. He spent forty years of his life without treatment because of &ldquoyears of medical misinformation, some misdiagnosis, lack of finances, and reluctance to undergo treatment due to religious beliefs.&rdquo

In 2010, José travelled to Chicago to undergo four operations to remove his tumor and restore his facial features. The tumor mass was removed completely in the first operation and the next three aimed to reconstruct the face. The operations were successful and José travelled back to Lisbon a few weeks after treatment.

Dede Koswara is an Indonesian man who, for most of his life, has endured the extremely rare fungal infection, Epidermodysplasia verruciformis. This causes large, hard fungal growths to protrude from the skin which looks remarkably like tree bark. This had become extremely uncomfortable for Dede, preventing him from performing basic functions with his hands, as they were so large and heavy. The fungus grows all over the body but it&rsquos mainly found on the hands and feet.

In 2008, Dede received treatment in the USA to remove six kilograms of warts from his body. After this was done, skin grafts were applied to the hands and face. Unfortunately, this surgery did not stop the fungus from growing and he had further operations in 2011. There is no cure for Dede&rsquos condition.

Fetus in fetu is an extremely rare developmental abnormality that occurs in one out of every 500,000 births. The reason for this condition is unclear, but many scientists believe that it occurs in the early stages of pregnancy, when one fetus is enveloped by the other. Many parasitic twins are small and undeveloped, but others can grow to a large size. Alamjan Nematilaev, from Khazakstan, had a parasitic twin that developed hair, limbs, teeth, nails, genitals, a head and a basic face. Alamjan&rsquos twin had been living inside him for over seven years before it was discovered&hellip

In 2003, Alamjan&rsquos school doctor noticed the swollen abdomen and sent him to the hospital. Doctors examined him and believed that the lump was a cyst. The following week, Alamjan was operated on and to the doctor&rsquos surprise, they found a baby measuring two kilograms in weight and twenty centimeters in length. The doctor who carried out the surgery said that Alamjan looked like he was in the sixth month of pregnancy. The boy&rsquos parents believed that his condition was caused by radiation from the Chernobyl disaster, but experts have dismissed this idea. Alamjan fully recovered from the operation, but to this day, he still does not know that his twin grew inside him.

Caleb is a Listverse author and moderator from Cornwall, UK. You can follow him on twitter.

1 &ndash Female Adulterers Were Brutally Tortured & Murdered

In Roman times, the whole ‘daddy&rsquos girl&rsquo thing was taken a bit too literally. Patria Potestas was basically lifelong subjugation of children to the will of their father. While it applied as much to sons as daughters, females were more likely to be forced to do as their daddy said. All fathers of legitimate children had the power of Patria Potestas and it was a practice that appalled other Mediterranean cultures. Children in this situation had to ask their father&rsquos permission for marriage for example. In the Lex Julia, a Roman father was permitted to murder his daughter if she committed adultery, under certain circumstances.

Things got particularly grim for female adulterers during Medieval times. Not only did cuckolded husbands gain revenge through murder, they occasionally used a device called a Breast Ripper to mutilate and torture their unfortunate wives. The Ripper was metal and had several claws which were used hot or cold on the exposed breasts of the victim. The claws tore the woman&rsquos breasts apart in many cases victims died during the process. A variant called The Spider was attached to a wall while its claws hooked into the victim&rsquos breasts. The woman was pulled away from the wall until her breasts were torn off.

The Puritan settlers who colonized America were also fond of meting out the worst possible punishments for adultery. In Nathaniel Hawthorne&rsquos classic novel, The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne is punished by having a scarlet ‘A&rsquo imprinted on her dress so she had to bear the shame of her misdeed. In reality, Hester got off very lightly compared to the punishments suffered by adulteresses in Puritan colonies. Indeed, sex crimes were the most commonly prosecuted crimes in New England during that era.

In 1641, Anne Linceford was whipped on two separate occasions for adultery while Mary Mendame was also whipped. Mendame was whipped as a cart was drawn through town in 1639 in what was a painful and humiliating experience. In 1631, Mary Latham was executed for adultery. She confessed to having sex with a dozen men and reportedly went to her execution willingly in the belief that she deserved her fate. The men in these tales received lighter punishments because they were usually said to have been ‘enticed&rsquo by ‘temptresses&rsquo.

Were the Mysterious Bog People Human Sacrifices?

A British archaeologist argues that the miraculously preserved bodies were left in the water as offerings to the gods.

Sometime around 60 A.D., a man was led into a marsh outside Cheshire, England to be killed. He was in his mid-twenties, stood about 5’ 7’’ tall, and had a trimmed beard, mustache, and brown hair. Except for an armband made out of fox fur, he was naked. It’s likely that he was accompanied, and restrained, by two or more individuals.

The details of his death make for grisly reading.

First, he received a blow from a blunt object to the top of his head, probably while he was seated, which fractured his skull. Then a cord was thrown around his neck. While he was being throttled, his throat was cut. Combined with the pressure from the noose, this would have caused a geyser of blood to erupt from the wound. Finally, he received a sharp kick to the small of his back, propelling him face-first into the waters of the bog, where, nearly two thousand years later, he was found by workers digging for peat in the Lindow Moss.

We know these details about the fate of the Lindow Man, as he has come to be known, because of the almost-miraculous preservative qualities of the bog where he was buried. Since the 18th century, hundreds of bodies like his have been pulled out of the marshes of Northern Europe. Their ages span thousands of years, from the Stone Age to the Second World War. Most, though, come from a relatively narrow band of time, from about 700 B.C. to 200 A.D. Many show signs of terrible trauma, including torture, mutilation, and dismemberment. Together, they are the coldest of cold cases, and the reasons for their demise constitute one of the enduring mysteries of European archaeology.

Explanations for why the bog victims were killed have included accident, punishment for crimes, execution of prisoners, and robberies gone wrong. In her new book, Bog Bodies Uncovered, Miranda Aldhouse-Green, a British archaeologist and expert on Celtic antiquity, argues that none of these causes make sense of all the available evidence. Bringing together results from forensic examination of the bodies with the testimony of classical authors and material gathered by ‘dry land’ archaeologists, she suggests that the likeliest explanation is also among the most disturbing: that they were victims of human sacrifice, and were left in the waters of the bog as an offering to the gods.

The first thing everyone remarks on when confronted with one of the bog bodies is their remarkable state of preservation. The Tollund Man, perhaps the most famous bog body, has been called the “perfect corpse,” chiefly because of the exquisite condition of his face and head. Discovered in 1950 by peat cutters in a Danish bog, he was buried naked, save for a skin cap and leather belt. He had been hung, and the noose that was used was still around his neck. Given the violence he seemed to have suffered before death, it always comes as a surprise that his face is the picture of calm. The Danish archaeologist P.V. Glob, present on the day after he was unearthed, described him as having “a gentle expression—the eyes lightly closed, the lips softly pursed, as if in silent prayer.”

The Tollund Man’s preservation is awe-inspiring, but it wasn’t deliberate. Unlike Egyptian mummies, the bog bodies owe their state to an accident of chemistry. The bogs in which they were buried contain little oxygen, which helps to inhibit bacterial growth. The most important ingredient for the bog bodies’ survival though comes from a plant called sphagnum. When sphagnum dies, it releases polysaccharides which block bacterial metabolisms. This helps keep organic matter like skin, wood, fur, and textiles from succumbing to decay.

Bogs cure bodies in a process akin to tanning, but while they are wonderful at preserving skin, they eat away at bones, leaving the bodies’ skeletons shrunken and sometimes, completely absent. At the same time, acids in bog water destroy DNA, making genetic studies impossible. Most bog bodies have been discovered in the process of excavating peat for use as fuel, and as a result, many have been hacked apart by spades and shovels, and more recently, by mechanical peat excavators. (The poor Grauballe Man even had his head stepped on, leaving it badly deformed). Modern forensic specialists have had to work hard to distinguish trauma inflicted on the bodies in life from the damage done to them when they were found.

On top of post-mortem trauma, the unusual preservation of the bog bodies can pose an additional challenge to investigators. When a body was found in the Lindow Moss in 1983, police at first thought it belonged to a recently murdered woman. By coincidence, it was found just a thousand feet from the cottage of a man who was suspected in his wife’s disappearance. Confronted with the body, he admitted to the crime. Only a few months later did it become apparent that the body was that of a two-thousand year old man.

But despite these mix-ups, there is a wealth of forensic data preserved in the bog bodies’ soft tissue, and it can tell us a lot about who these individuals’ were in life—their social status, medical history, and even the food they ate in their final hours. The Tollund Man’s last meal was a kind of gruel, described as ‘disgusting’ by a British archaeologist who tasted a reconstructed version for a program on the BBC. The Grauballe Man ate a porridge made out of 60 different types of plant, which contained enough ergot to put him in a coma, or at least, make him delirious. The Old Croghan Man, an aristocratic giant from Ireland, lived mostly on meat and dairy, but his final meal was buttermilk and cereal. The Lindow Man had an ‘upmarket’ meal of griddle-toasted flatbread, with a small addition of mistletoe pollen.

Many of the bog victims suffered from malnutrition. Others appear to have been better off. Some had finely manicured hands, or wore elaborate hairstyles that indicated their rank as freedmen or warriors. An unusual number of the bog bodies suffered from physical deformities. Some of these were fairly minor, like a cauliflower ear, or curved spines or diseased joints which would have made walking difficult. Other abnormalities were more pronounced. A survey of bog body research turns up a dwarf, a giant, and a man with an extra set of thumbs. Aldhouse-Green thinks this might be significant, and that “visually special people” may have been deliberately targeted for their uniqueness, and possibly, spiritual power.

One thing that the bog bodies make clear is that the mistreatment they suffered in death was as extreme as it was varied. The Haraldskaer Woman was killed with a garrote. The Yde Girl was strangled with her own girdle. The Tollund Man was hung. The Kayhausen Boy, a teenager from northern Germany, was hogtied before death. The Lindow, Grauballe and Kayhausen bodies all had their throats cut. The Windeby girl was drowned, and her arm was hacked off as well. The Borremose woman was scalped, her face crushed, and her right leg broken. The Old Croghan Man was hit with a barrage of blows, most likely from an axe, enough to sever his head and cut his body in half.

The violence inflicted on the bodies continued after death. Several of the bodies had their arms pierced, and willow branches were drawn through the wound. Others had wooden stakes driven through their knees. Aldhouse-Green writes that these restraints may have been a way of taming the dead, pinning their ghosts to the spot where they died. Several bodies also show signs of having undergone ritual humiliation. Most were buried naked, or wrapped only in a shroud. The Windeby Girl had the left side of her head shaved. The Yde Girl’s entire head was shorn, and her hair left by her side. In addition to everything else that was done to him, the Old Croghan’s nipples were sliced. This may have had special significance: According to tradition, in ancient Ireland, sucking a king’s nipples was a way of showing him submission.

The elaborate effort and preparation that went into the killing of the bog bodies suggests that these weren’t ordinary murders. Likewise, the placement in bodies the bogs suggests that they were not ordinary burials. Cremation was the most common form of internment in Iron Age northern Europe, while higher status individuals were sometimes placed in oak caskets and buried with grave goods for use in the next world. The bog bodies had neither. But does that necessarily mean that they were sacrificed?

Aldhouse-Green presents two main strands of evidence to argue that it does. One comes from classical antiquity. Several Roman historians, including Strabo, Tacitus, and Julius Caesar, described versions of human sacrifice being practiced by the peoples of northern Europe. Sometimes it was a means of telling the future, and at other times it was done as part of a cult associated with a particular god or temple.

The other strand comes from archaeology of the British Isles, where there are many examples of bodies that seem to have been buried alive, human remains used as foundation deposits for houses, and burials in which attendants were interred with their chiefs. There are even signs that bodies may, in certain places, have been pulled out of the bogs and kept on display hundreds of years after their deaths. Bogs themselves seem to have been places of special reverence. In Germany and Denmark, weapons, wagons, food, images of gods, and even whole ships were deliberately left in their waters. These were most likely as ceremonial offerings, and as Aldhouse-Green points out, in societies where slavery was common, a human being might have been worth less than a valuable sword or cauldron.

Both strands of evidence suffer from certain deficiencies. Aldhouse-Green emphasizes that the classical historians have to be treated with caution. They were, after all, writing as outsiders to the cultures they were describing, and each brought their own agenda to bear on the customs of the barbarian north. The archaeological record from Northern Europe is similarly problematic. Although it contains multiple signs of human and animal sacrifice, as well as material offerings made to the bogs, these finds give little indication—aside from a few tantalizing hints—as to the exact nature of the beliefs that motivated the ceremonies. Ultimately, the best evidence for human sacrifice comes from the bog bodies themselves, and the excessive, and clearly staged, violence used to kill them, as in the case of the Lindow Man.

Although we may never know for certain what was going through the minds of the killers, the bog bodies will still retain their fascination. I visited the Tollund Man more than twenty years ago on a childhood trip to Denmark and I still remember the vivid shock of seeing his face. The Irish poet Seamus Heaney, who devoted a cycle of poems to the bog bodies, wrote of being moved just by their photographs. Describing the Grauballe Man, he asked, “Who will say ‘corpse’/to his vivid cast?/Who will say ‘body’/to his opaque repose?” After thousands of years, the bog bodies are still with us, living a life they couldn’t possibly have imagined in death.

Anna Miller, who left Amish community, opens bakery in Sunderland, shares her story

Anna S. Miller, 23, of Sunderland, holds some of her freshly baked bread that she sells at the Amish Bakery in Sunderland. Cori Urban photo

Anna S. Miller, 23, of Sunderland, holds some of her freshly-baked bread that she sells at the Amish Bakery in Sunderland. Photo by Cori Urban

SUNDERLAND — Earlier this year Anna S. Miller did two things uncommon for a 23-year-old to do for the first time: She made a telephone call, and she began a business.

Born and raised in a strict Amish family on a dairy farm in Heuvelton, N.Y., the second youngest of 11 children in June left the only life she had ever known.

She left behind milking cows by hand, working in a vegetable garden and selling produce, helping the men of the community with plowing and planting and haying, ironing with an old-fashioned flat iron and doing dishes in a sink with no drain. She didn’t even know about dishwashers.

"Looking back, that would have been helpful," the good-humored young woman says today.

"Anna came from the strictest of the strictest of the Amish," explains Saloma M. Furlong, author of "Why I Left the Amish." Furlong's own story of breaking with her Amish roots was included in the PBS "American Experience" documentary, "The Amish," earlier this year.

A customer looks at baked goods on the porch of the Amish Bakery in Sunderland where cookies, breads and sticky buns are for sale. The bakery is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Photo by Cori Urban

Miller now lives with Furlong and her husband, David, in their renovated 1920s Sunderland home, complete with a 21st-century deep energy retrofit. It is where Miller has set up her Amish Bakery, selling baked goods and hand-woven baskets from the home's front porch.

"The best part (of her new life) is living with David and Saloma," Miller said recently as she shared her "Breaking Amish"-type story. "They are nice to each other, and they have a good relationship with each other." ("Breaking Amish" is a reality-TV series on TLC which has focused on the lives of five young men and women who contemplate breaking out from Amish and Mennonite communities to pursue new lives in New York City and shunning by their communities.)

Part of the reason Miller left her Amish community was its male domination.

"Male domination in her community is intense," said Furlong, who grew up in a less restrictive Amish community in Ohio."She was witnessing a total domination of her father over her mother."

She couldn't face more of her parents' disagreements, and she had glimpsed the world "outside" when she sold baskets and produce at a roadside stand.

Miller had few prospects for marriage in five years she had had only six dates, and four of them were with second cousins. "She saw her life stretched out as an old maid, living under the jurisdiction of a sister or brother's family," said Furlong, who left her Amish life behind in 1977 at age of 20.

Miller had been sent to help a married sister for a short period, and when she returned home, her father had decided she could no longer get the mail at the mailbox.

"That was the trigger," Miller said. "I cannot face this if my dad is treating us that way."

She left that night, purchasing a $75, one-way bus ticket to West Hartford, Conn., with money she had saved from her pay of $4 to $6 a day at home or at the farm stand.

And she used a telephone for the first time. Miller called a woman she had been told might be able to help her, and she ended up at the woman's home.

Miller does not reveal the details of her departure from the Amish community, not wanting to cause trouble for anyone.

The person in Connecticut found Furlong on the Internet and contacted her for help understanding Miller's Amish culture. In July, Miller moved to Sunderland where she had begun her baking and basket business.

"I was used to making baskets and baking, so I decided to do that," she said, explaining that she could not have a baking business in the Connecticut home because that supporter had pets. "Saloma said this house would do."

A plain and gentle woman with brown hair in a bun atop her head, Miller speaks after carefully choosing her words. A German dialect can still be detected as it is her first language, but she is currently being tutored in English.

On a recent day she wore a teal T-shirt under an aqua jacket, a purple calf-length skirt, black stockings and black shoes. She smiled and spoke easily with customers who climbed the steps to the porch to purchase her wares.

Handmade baskets and home-baked goods are for sale at the Amish Bakery in Sunderland, made by Anna S. Miller, who was born and raised on an Amish dairy farm in upstate New York. Photo by Cori Urban

UPS driver Alex Desrosiers, of South Hadley, is a regular customer. He smiled when he picked up a loaf of bread from one of the two tables laden with baked goods and baskets and announced that it was still warm from the oven.

"The first time I had this bread I said it was the best white bread I ever had in my life," Desrosiers enthused. "I tell everybody to come over here."

But it's not just the white bread he likes he also bought an oatmeal bread, a raisin bread and a plate of sticky buns with no nuts, spending $24. "The sticky buns are fantastic," he said.

Oatmeal and white bread sell for $5 a loaf, raisin is $4. Sticky buns, either with or without nuts, sell by the plate for $10, $7 and $5 a single bun is $2. Oatmeal raisin cookies are $4 a dozen. And, there are other treats, too.

"I heard (the oatmeal) bread was very good," said customer Irene S. LaRoche, of Sunderland. "People were talking it up."

Women Pastors in the Bible

A pastor is a shepherd. That’s what the word literally means. A pastor is someone who tends and guides spiritual sheep.

Let me answer that question with a better one: If God has gifted and called a woman to pastor, should we oppose him?

Here’s another: Since God empowered women to lead churches in the New Testament, is there any reason to expect that he has stopped doing that today?

Some may say, “No female pastors are named in the Bible.” Neither are any male pastors named in the Bible. Search the scriptures and you will find no one identified as Pastor So-and-so.

We live in the age of the celebrity pastor, but the early church had no such thing. What it did have were nameless groups of elders or overseers, such as the Ephesian elders who met with Paul, or the elders Paul greeted at the start of his letter to the Philippians.

That said, the Bible identifies at least three females who pastored. It’s time for us to meet these little-known ladies.

Pastor Prisca

Prisca was one of Paul’s closest friends. They were such dear friends that the apostle called her by the diminutive version of her name, Priscilla.

Priscilla and her husband Aquila were Jewish business people who met Paul in Corinth and travelled with him to Ephesus (Acts 18). When Paul left Ephesus, Priscilla and Aquila stayed behind and continued to preach the gospel (1 Cor 16:19). Soon they were hosting a church that met in their house. Later, they went to Rome and planted another church. We know this because of the way Paul greets them in his letter to the Romans:

Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Greet also the church that meets at their house. (Romans 16:3-5a)

This brief mention speaks volumes. Priscilla and her husband weren’t merely homegroup leaders they were church planters with a multinational legacy. Such was her influence that Paul said the Gentile churches owed Priscilla a debt of gratitude.

What did Priscilla do? To quote Gene Edwards, Priscilla was “Paul’s right-hand man.” Paul considered her his equal and said she had risked her life for him (like a good shepherd).

Priscilla was not just a preacher or teacher. She was a pastor to the apostles. She trained Apollos in Ephesus and had two apostles, Andronicus and Junia, in her church at Rome. Indeed, Priscilla was not merely a pastor she was a super-pastor who raised giants in the faith. (I guess she never got the memo about women staying silent in church.)

Nympha’s church

At a time when the church only met in people’s homes, several women were recognized as church leaders. Priscilla was one Nympha was another.

Paul greeted “Nympha and the church that is in her house” (Col. 4:15). We know very little about Nympha. Her house was located either in Laodicea or elsewhere in the Lycus Valley. Was she a pastor? Did she lead the church that met in her house? She must have done so, for Paul greets no one else in her church.

Chloe and her people

Chloe is another one of those intriguing people who gets only a single mention in the Bible: “I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you” (1 Cor. 1:11).

We don’t know anything about Chloe other than she lived in Corinth and she had people.

Who were these people? Were they her companions or a church that met in her house? We can’t be sure. But in the same way that “men from James” came to Antioch, “people from Chloe” came to Paul, and he recognized her as a leader within the church community. In short, she was a pastor.

If Paul objected to women pastors, the visit from Chloe’s people would’ve presented him with the perfect opportunity to say so. To quote Tim Fall, Paul might have expressed his concerns like this:

It has come to my attention you have a woman (Chloe) presiding over a group of brothers and sisters. This must not be! Is there not a man among you who could take over? Don’t wait until I am among you to correct this abomination.

Of course, Paul said no such thing because Paul had no problem with women in leadership. Instead of rebuking Chloe’s people for putting a woman in charge, he credited them for drawing his attention to a problem.

Many people say women cannot be pastors and they cannot lead churches, yet women did these very things in the Bible. The New Testament church had female pastors, female apostles, female prophets, female evangelists and female teachers, because God has commissioned all of us, men and women, to proclaim the good news. Some say women can’t teach because Eve was deceived. They forget that Jesus redeemed us from whatever mistakes Eve and Adam made, and he proved it by empowering women and including them among his disciples.

“But Paul, you have forgotten that the qualifications for a pastor that Paul gave in 1 Timothy 3 exclude women.”

No I haven’t, and no it doesn’t. Although many churches exclude women from influential positions of leadership, the reasons for this have more to do with tradition than what the Bible says.


Susanna Magrietha "Sandra" Laing was born in 1955 to Susanna Margaretha "Sannie" (née Roux) (1920-2001) and Abraham Laing (1916-1988), Afrikaners in Piet Retief, a small conservative town in South Africa during the apartheid era, when laws governed officially established social castes of racial classification. Her paternal grandparents were Alfred Laing (1874-1962) of Memel, Germany (now Klaipėda, Lithuania) and Hester Sophia Goosen (1877-1949) her maternal grandparents were Adriaan Roux (1876-1967) and Susanna Magrietha Veldman (1886-1967), after whom Sandra was named. She had darker skin than other members of her family, which seemed to become more obvious as she grew older. Her parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents were all white, but Sandra displayed the physiognomy of African ancestors of earlier generations, perhaps from the 18th century or more recent. [4] Her family treated her as white, the same as their sons Adriaan and Leon, and together they all attended the Dutch Reformed Church. [4]

When Laing was 10 years old and at an all-white boarding school, the school authorities expelled her [4] because of complaints from the parents of other students, based on her appearance: primarily her skin colour and the texture of her hair. They believed she was "Coloured", a term for mixed-race people. [5] She was expelled and escorted home by two police officers. [4]

Sandra's parents fought several legal battles to have her classified as white, based on her documented ancestry through them. Her father underwent a blood-typing test for paternity in the 1960s, as DNA tests were not yet available. The results were compatible with his being her biological father, though such tests are extremely imprecise due to the small number of blood types that most people have. [4]

After the publicity, Laing found herself shunned by the white community, although she was re-classified as white again in 1966 when the law was changed to allow a person to be classified as white if both parents are classified as white. She attended a Coloured boarding school away from her family and became immersed in the non-white world. Her only friends were the children of black employees. At the age of 16, Laing eloped to Swaziland with Petrus Zwane, a black South African who spoke Zulu. She was jailed for three months for illegal border-crossing. Her father threatened to kill her for the marriage and broke off contact with her. They never met again. [4]

Although she and her husband had two children, who were classified as "Coloured", she was threatened with losing them unless she also was classified as "Coloured", as a white parent could not raise Coloured children. At the age of 26, she arranged for the change in race classification officially, although her father had refused permission earlier. Except for secret trips to see her mother when her father was out of the house, Laing was estranged from her family and struggled to survive economically. [4] When her parents moved away from Piet Retief, the clandestine visits were no longer possible. Laing lost contact with her family completely. [6]

Laing and her husband separated due to the pressures they were under, and she put their children into government care for a period. Years later she married again, to Johannes Motloung, a Sotho-speaking man. They had three children together and she was able to reclaim her first two all are now grown and with families of their own. Trying to reconcile with her family in the 1980s, Laing learned that her father had died and her mother Sannie refused to see her. [4]

In 2000 the Johannesburg Times tracked down Laing to learn about her years since the end of apartheid. The newspaper helped her find her mother, and they were able to reconcile. Sannie was then in a nursing home. Sannie and the two shared time together before her mother's death in 2001. [4]

The publicity helped Laing, her husband and family gain new housing they now live in Leachville, new estates east of Johannesburg. In 2009, it was reported that Laing's brothers still refused to see her. [7] She has said in interviews with The Guardian and Little White Lies that she continued to hope they would some day have a change of heart. [4] [7]


According to New Testament scholar Frank Stagg and classicist Evelyn Stagg, [1] the synoptic Gospels of the canonical New Testament contain a relatively high number of references to women. Evangelical Bible scholar Gilbert Bilezikian agrees, especially by comparison with literary works of the same epoch. [2] : p.82 Neither the Staggs nor Bilezikian find any recorded instance where Jesus disgraces, belittles, reproaches, or stereotypes a woman. These writers claim that examples of the manner of Jesus are instructive for inferring his attitudes toward women and show repeatedly how he liberated and affirmed women. [1] Starr writes that of all founders of religions and religious sects, Jesus stands alone as the one who did not discriminate in some way against women. By word or deed he never encouraged the disparagement of a woman. [3] Karen King concludes, based on the account of Jesus' interaction with a Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7:24-30 and Matthew 15:21-28 , that "an unnamed Gentile woman taught Jesus that the ministry of God is not limited to particular groups and persons, but belongs to all who have faith." [4]

The gospels of the New Testament, written toward the last quarter of the first century AD, often mention Jesus speaking to women publicly and openly against the social norms of the time. [5] From the beginning, Jewish women disciples, including Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna, had accompanied Jesus during his ministry and supported him out of their private means. [Lk. 8:1-3] [6] Kenneth E. Bailey [7] spent 40 years as a Presbyterian professor of New Testament in Egypt, Lebanon, Jerusalem and Cyprus. He writes about Christianity from a Middle Eastern cultural view. He finds evidence in several New Testament passages that Jesus had women disciples. He first cites the reported occasion when Jesus’ family appeared and asked to speak with him. Jesus replied:

"Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" And stretching out his hand towards his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother."

Bailey argues that according to Middle Eastern customs, Jesus could not properly have gestured to a crowd of men and said, "Here are my brother, and sister, and mother." He could only have said that to a crowd of both men and women. Therefore, the disciples standing before him were composed of men and women. [7]

The Gospels record several instances where Jesus reaches out to "unnoticeable" women, inconspicuous silent sufferers who blend into the background and are seen by others as "negligible entities destined to exist on the fringes of life." [2] Jesus notices them, recognizes their need and, "in one gloriously wrenching moment, He thrusts them on center stage in the drama of redemption with the spotlights of eternity beaming down upon them, and He immortalizes them in sacred history." [2] : p.82

Peter's mother-in-law Edit

The three synoptic gospels all record the healing of Simon Peter's mother-in-law. When Jesus came into Peter's house, he saw Peter's mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He healed the woman of fever by touching her hand. She rose and began to wait on him. With this particular healing, something unique occurs. Quite often, after being healed, people left Jesus to go about their renewed lives. Peter's mother-in-law, however, immediately rose and began to "serve" him.

The woman who touched Jesus' garment Edit

Jesus practiced the ministry of touch, sometimes touching the "untouchables" and letting them touch him. Among the things considered defiling (disqualifying one for the rituals of religion) was an issue of blood, especially menstruation or hemorrhage. One such woman had been plagued with a flow of blood for 12 years, no one having been able to heal her. She found the faith in a crowd to force her way up to Jesus, approaching him from behind so as to remain inconspicuous, and simply touching his garment. [Mk. 5:27] When she did, two things happened: the flows of blood stopped and she was discovered. [2] : p.83

Jesus turned and asked who touched him. The disciples tried to brush aside the question, protesting that in such a crowd no individual could be singled out. Jesus pressed his inquiry and the woman came and trembled at his feet she explained her reason and declared amid the crowd what blessing had come to her. [Lk. 8:47] Jesus treated her as having worth, not rebuking her for what the Levitical code of holiness would have considered as defiling him. [Lev. 15:19-25] Rather, he relieved her of any sense of guilt for her seemingly rash act, lifted her up and called her "Daughter." He told her that her faith saved her, gave her his love, and sent her away whole. [Mk. 5:34]

Fontaine writes, "The 'chutzpah' shown by the woman who bled for 12 years as she wrests her salvation from the healer's cloak is as much a measure of her desperation as it is a testimony to her faith." [8] : p.291 Fontaine comments that "the Bible views women as a group of people who are fulfilled, legitimated, given full membership into their community, and cared for in old age by their children," and that barren women risked ostracism from their communities. She notes that when disabled people are healed, the act "emphasizes primarily the remarkable compassion of the one doing the good deed, not the deserving nature or dignity of the recipient." [8] : p.290

Daughter of Jairus Edit

Jairus was one of the rulers of the Jewish synagogue, and had a daughter who had been very ill and was now at the point of death. She was an only daughter, and was twelve years of age. So hearing that Jesus was near, Jairus came to Jesus, and, falling down before him, implored Jesus to come and see his sick daughter. She had been comatose, and in Matthew 9:18 her father says she is already dead. Jesus went to her, even though the others mocked him and said it was too late. When he saw her body, he took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum," which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise!" She immediately arose and walked around. He gave strict orders that no one should know this and said that she should be given something to eat.

Widow of Nain Edit

The widow lived in a remote small town on a hillside in Galilee. However, the death of her only son left her with little means of support. [1 Tim. 5:4] Jesus noticed the grieving woman in the funeral procession. Jesus gave the command "Arise!" and gave the bewildered son back to his mother. "They all knew that God had a special love for the little widow with one son in Nain of Galilee." [2] : p.84

The woman bent double Edit

Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath and saw a woman who had been "crippled by a spirit for eighteen years". She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. He called to the woman, said "Woman, you are set free from your infirmity", then laid his hands on her body, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. [Lk. 13:13]

The synagogue ruler, the defender of the Sabbath, was indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath. Rather than confront Jesus, he rebuked the woman publicly by saying to the whole congregation, "There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath". [9] In response, Jesus said, "You hypocrites! Doesn't each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?" [Lk. 13:15-16] The Staggs emphasize that this is the only reference in New Testament to "a daughter of Abraham". [1] They conclude that Jesus spoke of this woman as though she belonged to the family of Abraham just as much as did the sons of Abraham.

Jesus who always kept his covenant of chastity presented women as models of faith to his listeners. In the culture of the day, women were neither to be seen nor heard since they were considered "corrupting influences to be shunned and disdained." [2]

The widow of Zarephath Edit

The Queen of the South Edit

Parable of the ten virgins Edit

The persistent widow Edit

A poor widow's offering Edit

Jesus honors a poor widow who cast "two copper coins" into the Temple treasury. What the widow gave to God was the totality of her belongings. Women had only limited access to the Temple in Jerusalem. There Jesus found the most praiseworthy piety and sacrificial giving, not in the rich contributors, but in a poor woman. [1]

In the Parable of the Lost Coin and the Parable of the Leaven, Jesus presents his own work and the growth of the Kingdom of God in terms of a woman and her domestic work. [10] These parables follow the Parable of the Lost Sheep and the Parable of the Mustard Seed respectively, and share the same messages as their more male-oriented counterparts.

Joel B. Green writes of the Parable of the Leaven that Jesus "asks people — male or female, privileged or peasant, it does not matter — to enter the domain of a first-century woman and household cook in order to gain perspective on the domain of God." [11]

Raising their dead Edit

The Gospels describe three miracles of Jesus raising persons from the dead. In two out of those three incidents the dead are restored to women--to Mary and Martha their brother Lazarus [Jn. 11:1-44] and to the unnamed widow from Nain her only son. [Lk. 7:11-17]

Warning against lust Edit

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus expounded upon the Ten Commandments. He defended the value of women by equating men's lust to adultery, punishable by hell.

Warning against divorce Edit

Jesus expounded upon the Book of Deuteronomy. Regarding men's custom of divorce, he defended the rights of wives by equating unjustified divorce with the guilt of causing the sin of adultery.

After the Resurrection of Jesus, he chose to appear first to a group of women and gave them the privilege of proclaiming his resurrection and communicating his instructions to the Apostles. [Mt. 28:8-10] . In the story, appearing first to them implies his claim was not dishonest because a rational deceiver would not appear to witnesses that could not testify in court (i.e., the group of women).

At the Temple in Jerusalem Edit

The canonical Gospels offer only one story about Jesus as a boy—Luke's story about the boy Jesus in the Jerusalem Temple. According to Luke, his parents, Joseph and Mary, took the 12-year-old Jesus to Jerusalem on their annual pilgrimage to the Passover. Mary and Joseph started their journey home without Jesus, thinking he was somewhere in the caravan with kinsmen or acquaintances. When his parents found him three days later, Mary said, "Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you." The boy Jesus respectfully but firmly reminded her of a higher claim he must answer: "Didn't you know I had to be about my Father's business?" [1] : pp.103–104, 224 It is noteworthy that in obedience to his parents, Jesus left and was subject to them.

At the wedding in Cana of Galilee Edit

Mary told Jesus the wine was in short supply. Today his reply may seem curt: "Woman, what have I to do with you? My hour is not yet come." [Jn. 2:4]

Neither here nor elsewhere does Jesus renounce the mother-son relationship as such, but here, as in Luke 2:49 , he declares his vocational (ministerial) independence of his mother. He has an "hour" to meet, and Mary, though his mother, can neither hasten nor hinder its coming. [1] : pp.103–104, 236

Most scholars believe that in Jesus' reply to his mother there was no disrespect. According to Matthew Henry's Commentary, he used the same word when speaking to Mary with affection from the cross. [12] Scholar Lyn M. Bechtel disagrees with this reading. She writes that the use of the word "woman" in reference to Jesus' mother is "startling. Although it would not be improper or disrespectful to address an ordinary woman in this way (as he often does: see John 4:21 , 8:10 , 20:13-15 ), it is inappropriate to call his mother 'woman'" (Bechtel 1997, p. 249) harv error: no target: CITEREFBechtel1997 (help) . Bechtel further argues that this is a device Jesus uses to distance himself from Judaism.

However, Bishop William Temple says there is no English phrase that represents the original "Woman, leave me to myself." "In the Greek it is perfectly respectful and can even be tender—as in John 19:27 . We have no corresponding term 'lady' is precious, and 'madam' is formal. So we must translate simply and let the context give the tone." [13] Some versions of the Bible translate it as "Dear woman". ( John 2:4 NLT NCV AMP)

At the foot of the cross Edit

Jesus, being Mary's firstborn son, took the responsibility of caring for his aging mother's future. Soon before he died, Jesus made arrangements for the disciple whom Jesus loved to take care of her.

Mary Magdalene (also called Miriam of Magdala) is among the women depicted in the New Testament who accompanied Jesus and his twelve apostles, and who also helped to support the men financially. [Lk. 8:2–3] According to Mark 15:40 , Matthew 27:56 , John 19:25 , and Luke 23:49 , she was one of the women who remained at Jesus' crucifixion. The New Testament says she saw Jesus laid in a tomb. Mark 16:9 reports that after his resurrection, Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene. The New Testament also says that Jesus had cast seven demons out of her.

For centuries, Mary Magdalene was identified in Western Christianity as an adulteress and repentant prostitute, although nowhere does the New Testament identify her as such. In the late 20th century, discoveries of new texts and changing critical insight brought this into question. According to Harvard theologian Dr. Karen King, Mary Magdalene was a prominent disciple and leader of one wing of the early Christian movement that promoted women's leadership. [4]

King cites references in the Gospel of John that the risen Jesus gives Mary special teaching and commissions her as an "apostle to the apostles." She is the first to announce the resurrection and to play the role of an apostle, although the term is not specifically used of her (though, in Eastern Christianity she is referred to as "Equal to the Apostles"). Later tradition, however, names her as "the apostle to the apostles." King writes that the strength of this literary tradition makes it possible to suggest that historically Mary was a prophetic visionary and leader within one sector of the early Christian movement after the death of Jesus. [4] Asbury Theological Seminary Bible scholar Ben Witherington III confirms the New Testament account of Mary Magdalene as historical: "Mary was an important early disciple and witness for Jesus." [14] He continues, "There is absolutely no early historical evidence that Miriam's (Mary's) relationship with Jesus was anything other than that of a disciple to her Master teacher."

Jeffrey Kripal, Chair of Rice University's Department of Religious Studies, writes that Christian Gnostic texts put Mary Magdalene in a central position of authority, but these texts were excluded from orthodox Biblical canons. Kripal describes Mary Magdalene as a tragic figure who maintained an important role later diminished by the male church leadership (Kripal 2007, p. 51) harv error: no target: CITEREFKripal2007 (help) . Kripal explains that gnostic texts suggest an intimate, possibly sexual relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, but that Jesus' sexuality is absolutely ambiguous based on the available evidence: "The historical sources are simply too contradictory and simultaneously too silent on the matter".(Kripal 2007, p. 50) harv error: no target: CITEREFKripal2007 (help)

According to Kripal, the gnostic texts "consistently [present] Mary as an inspired visionary, as a potent spiritual guide, as Jesus' intimate companion, even as the interpreter of his teaching".(Kripal 2007, p. 52) harv error: no target: CITEREFKripal2007 (help) Kripal writes that theologies of the European Middle Ages likely invented the notion of a sexual relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus: "The medieval Catharists and Albigensians, for example, held that Mary was Jesus' concubine. The great Protestant reformer Martin Luther also assumed a sexual relationship between the two, perhaps to give some historical precedent for his own dramatic rejection of Catholic celibacy".(Kripal 2007, p. 52) harv error: no target: CITEREFKripal2007 (help)

This story, beloved for its revelation of God's mercy toward sinners, is found only in John's Gospel. [15] Jesus was teaching in the Temple in Jerusalem. Some scribes and Pharisees interrupted his teaching as they brought in a woman who had been taken in the very act of adultery. Their treatment of the woman is callous and demeaning. They stood her before him, declared the charge, reminded him of Moses' command that such women be stoned. More precisely, the law speaks of the death of both the man and the woman involved. [Lev. 20:10] [Deut. 22:22-24] We are left wondering why the man was not brought in along with the woman.

"What do you say?" they asked. If he is lax toward the law, then he is condemned. But if he holds a strict line, then he has allowed them to prevail in their ungodly treatment of this woman and will be held responsible by the Romans if the stoning proceeds. After a time of silence, Jesus stooped down and wrote with his finger on the ground. It was unlawful to write even two letters on the sabbath but writing with dust was permissible (m. shabbat 7:2 12:5). The text includes no hint of what he wrote. The woman's accusers were trying to entrap Jesus, not just the woman. To them she was a worthless object to be used to "catch" Jesus on a theological legal issue.

Finally, Jesus stood up and said to the accusers, "Let the one among you who is without sin cast the first stone." He stooped down once more and again wrote on the ground. In his answer Jesus did not condone adultery. He compelled her accusers to judge themselves and find themselves guilty—of this sin and/or others. No one could pass the test, and they slipped out one by one, beginning with the eldest.

When Jesus and the woman were finally alone, he asked her a simple question, "Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?" She simply replied, "No one, Lord." She becomes a memorable example of the fact that "God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. [Jn. 3:17] Jesus says to her, "Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on no longer sin." [Jn. 8:11]

"Here is mercy and righteousness. He condemned the sin and not the sinner." (Augustine In John 33.6) But more than that, he called her to a new life. While acknowledging that she had sinned, he turned her in a new direction with real encouragement. Jesus rejected the double standard for women and men and turned the judgment upon the male accusers. His manner with the sinful woman was such that she found herself challenged to a new self-understanding and a new life. [1] [16]

The in-depth account about Jesus and the Samaritan Woman at the Well is highly significant for understanding Jesus in several relationships: Samaritans, women, and sinners. By talking openly with this woman, Jesus crossed a number of barriers which normally would have separated a Jewish teacher from such a person as this woman of Samaria. Jesus did three things that were highly unconventional and astonishing for his cultural-religious situation:

  1. He as a man discussed theology openly with a woman.
  2. He as a Jew asked to drink from the ritually unclean bucket of a Samaritan.
  3. He did not avoid her, even though he knew her marital record of having had five former husbands and now living with a man who was not her husband.

The disciples showed their astonishment upon their return to the well: "They were marveling that he was talking with a woman. [Jn. 4:27] A man in the Jewish world did not normally talk with a woman in public, not even with his own wife. For a rabbi to discuss theology with a woman was even more unconventional. Jesus did not defer to a woman simply because she was a woman. He did not hesitate to ask of the woman that she let him drink from her vessel, but he also did not hesitate to offer her a drink of another kind from a Jewish "bucket" as he said to her, "Salvation is of the Jews." [Jn. 4:22] Salvation was coming to the Samaritan woman from the Jews, and culturally there was great enmity between the Jews and the Samaritans (considered a half-breed race by the Jews). [17] Although she was a Samaritan, she needed to be able to drink from a Jewish "vessel" (of salvation) and Jesus no more sanctioned Samaritan prejudice against Jew than Jewish prejudice against Samaritan.

This is an event without precedent: that a woman, and what is more a “sinful woman,” becomes a “disciple” of Christ. Indeed, once taught, she proclaims Christ to the inhabitants of Samaria so that they too receive him with faith. This is an unprecedented event, if one remembers the usual way women were treated by those who were teachers in Israel whereas in Jesus of Nazareth’s way of acting such an event becomes normal.

The key to Jesus' stance is found in his perceiving persons as persons. He saw the stranger at the well as someone who first and foremost was a person—not primarily a Samaritan, a woman, or a sinner. This evangelized woman became an evangelist. She introduced her community to "a man" whom they came to acclaim as "the Savior of the world." [Jn. 4:42] Jesus liberated this woman and awakened her to a new life in which not only did she receive but also gave. The Bible says she brought "many Samaritans" to faith in Christ. [v.39] If the men in John 1 were the first "soul winners," this woman was the first "evangelist" in John's gospel. [1]

This incident is unlike any other in the canonical Gospels. The woman, whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit, came and fell at his feet. The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter. Jesus seems harsh toward the woman as he first denies her request for help for her daughter. He also appears to be condescending and denigrating of her as he says, "First let the children be fed, for it is not fitting to take the bread of the children and throw it to the dogs." [Mk. 7:27] In the context, "the children" seem to be Jews and "the dogs" Gentiles.

She is identified as "a Greek, a Syrophoenician by race." [Mk. 7:25] The point is not that she is a woman, but that she is not Jewish, but a Gentile. "Dogs" was epithet of the day for Gentiles, and Jesus appears to be on the side of Jewish contempt for Gentiles. In both Mark and Matthew, non-Jews are likened to "dogs," and a woman deeply concerned for her daughter's condition is brushed off until she herself prevails in her discourse with Jesus.

As to the manner of Jesus with women, he did not substitute uncritical deference for prejudice against women. He related to women as persons with words and dignity. In this story as elsewhere, Jesus is seen as capable of manifesting a critical stance toward woman, yet at the same time being respectful of her self-affirmation as she boldly countered his own remarks. [1] : p.115

Why Jesus appeared harsh to a disadvantaged person, and also seems to lose the brief spirited and incisive dialog with her is still debated among authorities. Several interpretations have been offered by theologians.

Evelyn and Frank Stagg suggest three possibilities:

  1. Jesus could have been instructing his disciples, first assuming a familiar Jewish prejudice toward non-Jews, and then abandoning it as its unfairness was exposed. The story may have served as an object lesson about prejudice to his disciples as a barrier is broken down between Jews and Gentiles.
  2. Jesus may have been testing the woman's faith. Jesus' parting word to her is one of affirmation and acclaim. She passed his test.
  3. There may have been a deep struggle within Jesus as he dealt with the claims of both Jew and Gentile. He had openness to Jews who were outside of accepted circles (publicans, sinners, prostitutes). He also went out of his way to affirm Samaritans (for example, the woman at the well). As an ethnic group, Samaritans had mutual animosity with the Jews. It is clear that Jesus had to give himself unreservedly to Israel, and yet also to the rest of the world. Jesus may have been having a deep, honest struggle within himself over the claims of two worlds upon him. [1] : pp.113–115

Gilbert Bilezekian believes Jesus' seemingly indifferent attitude to the woman's plea and the strange dialogue that followed should not be interpreted as reluctance on his part to minister either to Gentiles or to a woman. He focuses on her faith, which Jesus later describes as "great". [Matt. 15:28] Wanting her to state her understanding of his ministry, he drew out her convictions and provided an opportunity to teach a lesson of racial inclusiveness to his "intolerant disciples". She expressed her faith that Gentiles have a share in salvation, confessing that his messiahship transcends human segregations of Jew, Gentile, man or woman. She was his first convert in the "Gentile world". [2] : pp.100–101

Luke and John show that Jesus had a close relationship with the sisters Mary and Martha who resided in Bethany. [1] They are featured in three major stories:

  1. A tension between the two sisters over roles [Lk. 10:38–42)]
  2. Grief at the death of their brother Lazarus, followed by his being raised, [Jn. 11:1–44] and
  3. Martha serving and Mary anointing Jesus (explicitly in John 12:1–8 ) presumably in Mark 14:3–9 Matthew 26:6–13 ). See the anointing in Bethany.

Kitchen and study Edit

Luke relates an occasion of tension during one of Jesus' visits to the home of Martha and Mary. While Martha prepared the meal, Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and "she was hearing his word." [Lk. 10:39] Martha became distracted and frustrated over having to serve the meal without any help from her sister. Finally she openly shared her feelings, stood over Jesus who was either seated or reclining, and complained: "She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" Jesus gently rebuked Martha for being so distracted and troubled over many things, when only one thing was necessary. "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." [Lk. 10:41-42]

Mary's choice was not a conventional one for Jewish women. She sat at the feet of Jesus and was listening to his teaching and religious instruction. Jewish women were not permitted to touch the Scriptures they were not taught the Torah, although they were instructed in accordance with it for the proper regulation of their lives. A rabbi did not instruct a woman in the Torah. Mary choose the "good part," but Jesus related it to her in a teacher-discipleship relationship. He admitted her into "the study" and commended her for her choice. In the tradition of that day, women were excluded from the altar-oriented priestly ministry, and the exclusion encroached upon the Word-oriented ministry for women. Jesus reopened the Word-ministry for woman. Mary was at least one of his students in theology.

Jesus vindicated Mary's rights to be her own person—to be Mary and not Martha. He showed his approval of a woman's right to opt for the study and not be compelled to be in the kitchen. Jesus established his own priorities in declaring, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word proceeding out through the mouth of God. [Mt. 4:4] Martha needed to be reminded of the priority of Word over bread. Luke's account of Jesus at the home of Mary and Martha puts Jesus solidly on the side of the recognition of the full personhood of woman, with the right to options for her own life. By socializing with both sisters and in defending Mary's right to a role then commonly denied to Jewish women, Jesus was following his far-reaching principle of human liberation. [1]

The grieving sisters Edit

One of Jesus' most famous miracles was raising Lazarus from four days in the tomb. But it is also a striking reminder that while God works all things for the best, He doesn't always do it according to the schedules we expect. [19]

Jesus' followers had given up hope after Lazarus' death, but Jesus had a plan to glorify God and heal Lazarus in a more spectacular way than anyone expected. The central figure, however, is Jesus, identified as "the resurrection and the life." When the brother of Mary and Martha became ill, they sent for Jesus. For some undisclosed reason, Jesus did not arrive until four days after Lazarus died. The grieving sisters, Martha first and then Mary, met Jesus. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and then proclaimed himself as "the resurrection and the life." Martha gently reproached Jesus, "Lord, had you been here, my brother would not have died." She hastened to express full confidence that God would grant whatever Jesus asked him to grant. Martha reflected a spiritual understanding beyond that required for preparing and serving a meal. [Jn. 11:21–27]

Apparently, Martha and not just Mary had benefited from the study. Mary stayed in the house until Jesus called for her. When Martha went to get her, Mary came quickly fell at Jesus' feet (Mary is at the feet of Jesus in every appearance recorded in John's gospel). She repeated the words Martha already had used: "Lord, had you been here my brother would not have died." Jesus was deeply moved upon seeing Mary and her friends weeping. They invited Jesus to come and see the tomb where Lazarus had been laid. Jesus burst into tears. The Jews standing by understood this as reflecting Jesus's love for Lazarus, "see how he loved him" (v. 36). The foursome of Jesus, Mary, Lazarus, and Martha had a close relationship as persons, with neither denial of gender differences nor preoccupation with it. Here were persons of both genders whose mutual respect, friendship and love carried them through experiences of tension, grief, and joy. Apparently Jesus was secure enough to develop such a relationship with two sisters and their brother without fear for his reputation. When necessary, he could oppose them without fear of chauvinism. Jesus had much to do with the liberation and growth of Martha and Mary. [1]

In the account of the raising of Lazarus, Jesus meets with the sisters in turn: Martha followed by Mary. Martha goes immediately to meet Jesus as he arrives, while Mary waits until she is called. As one commentator notes, "Martha, the more aggressive sister, went to meet Jesus, while quiet and contemplative Mary stayed home. This portrayal of the sisters agrees with that found in Luke 10:38-42 ." [20] When Mary meets Jesus, she falls at his feet. In speaking with Jesus, both sisters lament that he did not arrive in time to prevent their brother's death: "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." [Jn. 11:21,32] But where Jesus' response to Martha is one of teaching calling her to hope and faith, his response to Mary is more emotional: "When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. [Jn. 11:33] As the 17th-century British commentator Matthew Henry notes, "Mary added no more, as Martha did but it appears, by what follows, that what she fell short in words she made up in tears she said less than Martha, but wept more." [21]

The Gospels present two stories of Jesus being anointed by a woman: (1) three accounts of his being anointed in Bethany, only John's account identifying Mary with the anointing and (2) one account of Jesus being anointed by a sinful woman who definitely was neither Mary (of Mary and Martha) nor Mary Magdalene. [22]

The Eastern Orthodox Church views Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany, and the "sinful woman" as three different individuals, and also maintains that Jesus was anointed on two different occasions: once by Mary of Bethany and once by the "sinful woman."

The anointing in Bethany Edit

Jesus is quoted in Matthew as assuring that the story of a woman's sacrificial love and devotion to him will have a place in the gospel wherever preached. Mary probably anticipated Jesus' death, but that is not certain. At least her beautiful deed gave Jesus needed support as he approached his awaited hour. Each of the two sisters Mary and Martha had their own way of ministering to Jesus: Martha, perhaps being more practical, served him a meal Mary lavishly anointed him.

A narrative in which Mary of Bethany plays a central role (in at least one of the accounts) is the event reported by the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John in which a woman pours the entire contents of an alabastron of very expensive perfume over the head of Jesus. Only in the John account is the woman identified as Mary, with the earlier reference in Jn. 11:1-2 establishing her as the sister of Martha and Lazarus. The woman's name in not given in the Gospels of Matthew [26:6-13] and Mark. [14:3-9] According to Mark's account, the perfume was the purest of spikenard. Some of the onlookers are angered because this expensive perfume could have been sold for a year's wages, which Mark enumerates as 300 denarii, and the money given to the poor.

The Gospel of Matthew states that the "disciples were indignant" and John's gospel states that it was Judas who was most offended (which is explained by the narrator as being because Judas was a thief and desired the money for himself). In the accounts, Jesus justifies Mary's action by stating that they would always have the poor among them and would be able to help them whenever they desired, but that he would not always be with them. He says that her anointing was done to prepare him for his burial. "Mary seems to have been the only one who was sensitive to the impending death of Jesus and who was willing to give a material expression of her esteem for him. Jesus' reply shows his appreciation of her act of devotion." [20]

Easton (1897) noted that it would appear from the circumstances that the family of Lazarus possessed a family vault [Jn. 11:38] and that a large number of Jews from Jerusalem came to console them on the death of Lazarus, [11:19] that this family at Bethany belonged to the wealthier class of the people. This may help explain how Mary of Bethany could afford to possess quantities of expensive perfume. [23]

The anointing by a repentant sinner Edit

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus is an invited guest in the home of Simon the Pharisee. All at the table were men. During the meal a woman known as "a sinner" entered the room and anointed Jesus' feet with her tears and with some ointment. Her tears fell upon his feet and she wiped them with her hair.

The Bible does not say whether she had encountered Jesus in person prior to this. Neither does the Bible disclose the nature of her sin. Women of the time had few options to support themselves financially thus, her sin may have been prostitution. Had she been an adulteress, she would have been stoned.

When Jesus permitted her to express her love and appreciation to him as she did, the host rejected it contemptuously. At a minimum, this story shows the manner of Jesus with one sinful woman. His unconditional love for both saints and sinners may have been so well known that this woman had the courage to take this great risk to publicly express her love for him for seeing her not as a sex object to be exploited, but as a person of worth.

Luke's gospel is unique in documenting that there were many women who benefited personally from Jesus' ministry, but who also ministered to him and with him—even to the point of accompanying him and the Twelve on evangelistic journeys. Most prominent among these is Mary Magdalene. [1]

Luke 8:1–3 in the Greek text is one long sentence. Its three main focal points are Jesus, the Twelve, and certain women. Jesus is traveling through cities and towns, preaching the Kingdom of God, evangelizing, and accompanied by the Twelve. Other than mentioning that the Twelve were with him, nothing more is said of them here.

The chief motive of the paragraph seems to be to bring into focus certain women, of whom there were "many". This passage presents them as recipients of healing at different levels of need, and also as actively participating with Jesus and the Twelve, accompanying them in their travels. Luke makes special reference to the financial support of these women to Jesus' ministry. He says there were many women. He points out that these included women who were prominent in the public life of the state as well as in the church.

Luke's account specifies two categories of healing: evil spirits and infirmities. Jesus liberated and humanized people who otherwise were being enslaved or destroyed by forces within themselves and in society. Jesus healed many women of "evil spirits and infirmities". Only of Mary Magdalene does Luke provide any detail of her healing, stating that "seven demons" had been cast out. Presumably these "many" women had been healed of various illnesses—physical, emotional, and mental. No specific data is provided on Mary Magdalene's "seven demons". It is significant that women whose conditions subjected them to scorn and penalty found in Jesus a Liberator who not only enabled them to find health, but who dignified them as full persons by accepting their own ministries to himself and to the Twelve. [1]

Thus, it is significant that women had such an open and prominent part in the ministry of Jesus. Luke's word for their "ministering" is widely used in the New Testament. Its noun cognate, diakonos, is variously translated "minister," "servant," and "deacon" (the latter for Phoebe in Romans 16:1 and in the pastoral letters).

In summary, Jesus attracted to his movement a large number of women, ranging from some in desperate need to some in official circles of government. [1]

Jesus ate with a Pharisee leader one evening. After instructing his host to include the most disadvantaged in his feasts, Jesus gave a parable of the many personal reasons why guests might refuse an invitation, including marriage and recent financial acquisitions. [Lk. 14:18–20] Jesus then addresses a great multitude and says, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even life itself—such a person cannot be my disciple." [Lk. 14:26]

Various expositors suggest that "hate" is an example of comparative hyperbolic biblical language, prominent in some Eastern cultures even today, to imply "love less than you give me," "compared to Christ," [24] the Semitic idea of "lower preference," a call to count the cost of following Jesus. [25]

When Jesus was told that his mother and brothers waited for him outside and wanted to speak to him, Jesus created a novel definition of family. He said to the people who were gathered to hear him speak, "Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, 'Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.'" [Mt. 12:48–50]

There were no women among the Twelve, and neither were there any Gentiles. All four listings in the New Testament of the names of the Twelve indicate that all of the Twelve were Jewish males:

The names vary in the four lists, but their male identity is clear and is often cited as biblical evidence that pastors should all be male. The New Testament gives no clear answer why the example of Jesus in choosing his apostles is not a complete overcoming of male bias. [1]

Several considerations may be placed alongside this one. Jesus advanced various principles that went beyond their immediate implementation. For example, he clearly repudiated the Jew-Samaritan antipathy, affirming not only his own Jewish kin but also the Samaritan. Yet, there are no Samaritans among the Twelve. Jesus affirmed both women and Samaritans as persons having the fullest right to identity, freedom, and responsibility, but for some undisclosed reason he included neither women nor Gentiles in his close circle of the Twelve. [1]

Perhaps custom here was so entrenched that Jesus simply stopped short of fully implementing a principle that he made explicit and emphatic: "Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother." [Mk. 3:35]

By selecting 12 Jewish males, Jesus may have been offering a parallel to the 12 patriarchs or 12 tribes of Israel, each headed by a son of Jacob. [1]

Another possible explanation surrounds the purpose stated for his choosing the Twelve: ". so that they might be with him." [Mk. 3:14] They were his constant companions day and night—except when he sent them out to preach. It was the custom for Jewish rabbis to have such an entourage of disciples. "Such close and sustained association with a member of the opposite sex would have given rise to defamatory rumor." [3] : p.174

However the restriction of the Twelve to Jewish men is to be accounted for, Jesus did introduce far-reaching principles which bore fruit even in a former rabbi, the Apostle Paul, who at least in vision could say, "There is not any Jew nor Greek, not any slave nor free, there is not male and female for you are all one in Christ Jesus." [Gal. 3:28] Further, the inclusion of "many" women in the traveling company of Jesus represents a decisive move in the formation of a new community. The Twelve are all men and also are all Jews, but even at this point women "minister" to them. [1]

The Staggs' believe a likely explanation to be that Jesus began where he was, within the structures of Judaism as he knew it in his upbringing. His closest companions initially may have been Jews, men, and men of about his own age. He began there, but he did not stop there. Even in the early stages of his mission, women were becoming deeply involved at the power center of Jesus' movement. [1]

Reverent Fulton Sheen wrote extensively on this subject and believed that Jesus preached to the Jews first because they were the people promised the Messiah. In the same way that they received the Good News first, before it was preached to the rest of the Gentile world, so too Jesus's 12 Apostles were all Jews. This did not bar Gentiles from being accepted into the Church, nor from being ordained. However, it is important to note that the choosing of women apostles would not have interfered with the preferential treatment of Jews in Jesus's mission, and the Church understands His choice to exclude women from the priesthood He founded to be divinely inspired and set for all time.

Watch the video: The Body Of A Bronze Age Girl Was Discovered In Denmark, And She Lived An Astoundingly Modern Life (June 2022).


  1. Sproule

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  2. Kiran

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  3. Coinleain

    You, work, do not be afraid of us, we will not touch you. The best way to get rid of temptation is to succumb to it ... Do not dig another hole yourself. The limitedness of narrow-minded people is copied by the unlimited number of them! Only eggs can be steeper than mountains. Everything should be in a person. (Pathologist)

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