Baron, Eugene. "Dancing with Jesus as the Incarnate Male 'Missionary' Conversant: A Homeless Group's Reading of John 4 in Dealing with Gender-Based Violence." Verbum et Ecclesia 40(1), 2019, a1912.
Baron evaluates the interactions of Jesus and the Samaritan woman in John 4 through the lens of a power encounter of South African patriarchy and the context of sexual abuse (Baron 2019, 1). In this article, patriarchy is understood as a probem which has been unfortunately contributed to by the church. It leads naturally to gender-based violence. He refers repeatedly to the works of Pilley, who describes instances of abuse which are covered up by a desire for women to be submissive and virtuous (Baron 2019, 2). This interpretation of biblical categories would appear to line up with his understanding of patriarchy in the church.
Baron's thesis is that a traditional interpretation of John 4 views the woman as inherently inferior to Jesus in status and social position, and that the relationship can be described as a dance (Baron 2019, 2). The rhetorical effect of the interactions is similar to the impression given by a series of carefully choreographed dance movements. It intends to place our attention on the scene in a particular way.
Baron gathered a group of homeless people to engage in a Bible study of the passage, using a method identified as "Contextual Bible Study" developed by West (1993) (Baron 2019, 3). The group of about 18 participants was divided into three subgroups and responded to four questions: "How does the text help us to deal with gender-based violence? What is the problem in the text? What is the text about? Who are the characters and what role does each play in the narrative?" (Baron 2019, 3). Baron reflects on the answers in order. He emphasizes theological authors who do not hold to what he undestands as a patriarchal view, then compares their answers with the answers of the homeless community.
The theologians Baron interacts with tend to focus on the power dynamic by which a man might use a location such as a well to meet a woman and win her as a bride or otherwise takes advantage of her. Jesus initiates the interaction by asking for a drink. He further affirms her correct statement that she has not been sexually exclusive in her relationships (Baron 2019, 4). The woman is knowledgeable about her religion as well as about Judaism, thus she is able to enage with Jesus in intellectual discourse. However, some theologians see Jesus' act of correcting her theology as an act of patriarchal oppression (Baron 2019, 5). While some deny that the passage is about gendder, others do affirm it (Baron 2019, 6). The very language Baron uses describes his endorsement of the passage being focused on gender roles.
Counter to the views of the selected theologians, the homeless gorup identified Jesus as showing respect and acceptance of the woman. His work was heroic in that he was sent by God and brought salvation to the woman(Baron 2019, 7). The researchers had to work to get agreement that the woman played a significant role or to vie the woman's role as messenger in similar terms to Jesus' role. baron takes this to be because Jesus is a man. The homeless group tended to see Jesus as more concretely in charge of the course of the discussion than did the theologians (Baron 2019, 8). The homeless group also considered the woman to show a "carnal mind" (Baron 2019, 8). This is disturbing to Baron, who observes that a request for water is also carnal. The homeless group was very hesitant to see the encounter as a move for male domination.
Baron lays his cards on the table when he says, "Patriarchy has always been the cause of the relegation of women to an interior position. This is seen in the way especially male theologians, and a large section of the homeless people, would interpret the text in question (Baron 2019, 8). He sserts that his interpretation is correct and that other interpretations are harmful. Baron's conclusion is that in their interpretation, the homeless people, themselves oppressed, took on the role of oppressors. They saw the male character as more powerful, and therefore endorsed "gender-based violence" (Baron 2019, 9). Baron sees this as a negative social outcome, to say the least.