Bible experts Helen Bond and Joan Taylor have used forensic examination of the New Testament to search for the key to understanding how women were really viewed 2,000 years ago.
The pair believe they have unearthed secrets which could change how millions of Christians across the world view their faith.
Typically only ever associated with men, the notion female disciples went forth and used their influence to spread the word of Jesus has major implications for the religion.
Taylor and Bond believe for every male member of the traditional 12 disciples, there was an equally pivotal female counterpart.
Mary Magdalene, often wrongly dismissed as a prostitute, is one such example.
“Jesus and his twelve disciples has been a very male affair”
Taylor and Bond
She garnered influence and became a well respected public figure in a town on the Sea of Galilee according to the historians.
Another notable disciple is a noblewoman named Joanna who fled Herod’s court.
They believe she was behind large amounts of the disciples’ financial backing and helped fund the spread of Christianity.
Highlighting how damaging Roman Emperor Constantine’s impact on Christianity was, Taylor and Bond are seeking to repair the heavily deteriorated reputation of women in the Bible.
“For 200 years the story of Jesus and his twelve disciples has been a very male affair,” they the historians claimed.
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“It’s a story in which women play minor supporting roles, as pious onlookers or repentant whores.
“We know now there were many women, disciples of Jesus. It’s very important to the Jesus movement. Women weren’t just bystanders to the greatest story ever told, but the ones who made it all possible.”
Throughout various periods in history, including the early Roman Empire, variances in religious mood saw women scratched from artwork and removed from key texts.
“When you look at the texts, you start to notice that there are actually little references to women,” said Bond.
“Apart from ‘the twelve’ there was Mary called Magdalene, Joanna and Suzanna.”
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Taylor believes a key to the importance of women lies within the language used to described them in the New Testament.
“She’s always called Mary the Magdalene, never Mary from Magdala, so it wasn’t just about where she came from it was also about who she was,” she said.
“She’s strong, she’s a towering figure in some way.
“The fact she’s remembered in this way makes me thinks she was equal to the twelve male disciples.”