Jesus and the Gospel Women is written by psychotherapist and Anglican priest Joanna Collicutt McGrath who confesses to some sympathy with feminism. McGrath wrote the book primarily for women to feed their spiritual life. It's an emotional book about Jesus' encounters and discourses with women as described by the gospel writers, and his relationship with women today, a mixture of conjecture and theology. The book created a mixed reaction from the eleven readers who met to discuss it.
Controversially the book begins by comparing Jesus with the character Mr Darcy from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.Mr Darcy is a hero who overcomes prejudice of the social and financial status of the Bennett family and the disgrace from Lydia's actions, and marries Elizabeth. Jesus was often in the company of those whose social and financial status caused prejudice towards them. McGrath draws the analogy with how many see Jesus as a hero who tells us that with God we are not alone, things do not have to stay as they are.
Each chapter examines the psychology of Jesus as it is expressed in his engagement with women. It's not about his personality or temperament but about the characteristic way that Jesus thought about, communicated and acted in relationships with women. The gospels tell of two-way transactions between Jesus and women.
Through the stories of encounters with women such as: the Syro-Phoenician; the woman taken in adultery; the Samaritan women; Mary Magdolan; and his mother Mary, McGrath explores the development of Jesus'character and ministry through them. Regularly through the gospels accounts of encounters with individual women follow accounts of male encounters, giving wider examples of the themes of Jesus' ministry. The gospels tell of two way transactions between Jesus and women. Many of the encounters with women relate to the provision of hospitality and women often minister to Jesus from their own resources, water, oil etc. Listening isalso regarded as hospitality.
Several members of the group felt they needed to re read the Gospels with a different perspective in light of the themes of the book.