Lydia does not need a man or any other figure of authority to speak for her or to dictate her life. She is her own agent and even Luke-Acts’ Paul has to respect that. She cares for her own, commits to seeking justice, and makes her own choices.
The Parable of the Ten Virgins, a rare example of women appearing in the parables and sayings of the gospel, invites us to consider challenging questions of representation.
As political theologians we may be peculiarly vulnerable to the error of neglecting—or even denying—the significance of the obscure and personal struggles and victories of the faithful that do not assert themselves onto the grand public stage of society. We have much to learn from Hannah’s recognition that, in God’s answer to her prayer for a son, the seeds of a dramatic social and political upheaval had been sown.
The Old Testament account of Jacob’s sojourn with Laban can expose some contemporary Christian blindspots, not least in assumptions concerning the ‘biblical’ meaning of marriage. However, we must also reckon with the limitations of the text’s own perspective, giving voice to the silent female characters within it.