My sister in spirit, the Rev. Susan Russell, has written a blog I think needs to be widely disseminated.
It is entitled "Testify" and here's an excerpt:
Whether you call it the road to Zion, to wholeness or to "thy kingdom come" it is unarguably a long and winding one. But it's the road we've been called to to journey -- as individuals and as a community of faith -- as we follow the One who went before us. And last Sunday our friend and former-All Saints colleague Maggie Cunningham was in the pulpit and gave us this great beginning to a wonderful sermon with some fascinating food for thought as we make that journey together:
The [Road to Emmaus] gospel concludes with the two disciples returning to Jerusalem where they find the eleven and others exclaiming excitedly, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” They have no doubt about the veracity of Simon Peter’s report – but it is a different story in the verses immediately preceding our section of the gospel.
There, we are told that “Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the other women with them” had gone to the tomb first, found it empty, and heard two men (presumably angels) say to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here but has risen.” The response of the eleven to this report was predictable: “These words seemed to them an idle tale and they did not believe them.”
In the first century, the testimony of women was not only inadmissible – it was impossible. The words testimony, testify and testament are etymologically related to the word testicle. In the ancient Near East, a man would grab his testicles when swearing a solemn oath. Lacking the necessary equipment, women were incapable of testifying.
As fascinating and amusing as this information is, it would be more so if that belief system behind it had completely disappeared – but that is a topic for another day.
Read it all here.