Woman in the World of Jesus book

Woman in the World of Jesus^[1]^ is a book written by classicist Evelyn Stagg and renowned Baptist theologian Dr. Frank Stagg. It was published in 1978 by Westminster Press in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

This book explains woman's role in the church today by explaining what it was like for woman in the world into which Jesus was born.

The book describes:

  • The status of woman in the world Jesus entered
  • The position of Jesus with respect to women
  • The status of women in the church as reflected in the New Testament.

The authors show how woman was perceived, how she was treated, and how she saw herself.

The three divisions of the book:

  • Part I describes the Jewish-Greek-Roman world that bears most directly upon the world in which Jesus lived.
  • Part II is concerned with Jesus' manner, teaching, and post-resurrection appearances to women.
  • Part III investigates perspectives on woman in the writings of Paul, the early Domestic Code embedded in the New Testament, the Synoptic Gospels, the book of Acts of the Apostles, and the Johannine literature|writings of the Apostle John.


The book opens with an in-depth probe of the ancient world to see how woman fared in the eras leading up to the birth of Jesus.

The book is written from a Christian perspective. The basic concern behind the book is to understand the intention of Jesus for woman, in which light the past performance of the church may be tested and directions for the church today may be sought. The authors expressed their intent to make Jesus the heart of the book. Their basic assumption in the book is that the New Testament, in particular the tradition centering in Jesus himself, as revealed in the Synoptic Gospels, remains for Christians their basic and authoritative witness for seeking direction.

A further contention of the authors is that Jesus founded the church, and that the church from the first has struggled to understand him and to follow him. In that regard, the Staggs contrast the teachings of Jesus that "whoever does the will of God is my mother, and my brother, and my sister" (Mark 3:35) and "in Christ there is no male nor female"(Galatians 3:28) to commands in the early Christian church for women to wear veils (1 Corinthians 11:5, 10), keep silent in church (1 Corinthians 14:34), and the judgment that "women are not worthy of life. "^[2]^

The Staggs believe that the six antitheses ("You have heard it was said...but I say unto you...") of Matthew 5:21-48 are evidence that Jesus intended to correct his heritage.

The radical correctiveness of Jesus to his religious heritage are apparent throughout the Gospels, and there should be no surprise that this holds for what he did for woman. The Christian hermeneutic which sees Jesus as both respectful of his heritage and exercising a lordship over it is both compelled by the New Testament and visible to the piety today which esteems and cherishes all Scripture yet worships Christ the Lord above all. By the same token, Jesus must be Lord over his church, the one by whom it is to be measured and corrected today." (pp. 10-11)

The authors

Evelyn and Frank Stagg are a husband and wife team who coauthored this book. Dr. Frank Stagg graduated from and later became Senior Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He also taught at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Evelyn Stagg also attended Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, took most of the same classes, but could not graduate because she was not a male.


  1. ? Stagg, Evelyn and Frank Stagg. Woman in the World of Jesus. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1978. ISBN 0-664-24195-6
  2. ? According to the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, Peter tells Jesus: "Tell Mary to leave us, "for women are not worthy of life. " Although that book does not appear in today's Canonical gospels, it was widely circulated in the early church. Many church fathers began to preach that Jesus had died to rid the world of Adam’s sin. The source of that sin, they said, was Eve. In the third century, the prolific defender of the orthodox church, Tertullian, wrote: "On account of [women]…even the Son of God had to die." Burstein, Dan and Arne J. de Keijzer. "Preface. " Secrets of Mary Magdalene. CDS Books, August 2006. ISBN 1593152051