In the Gospel of John, the anointing of Jesus’ feet (Jn 12:1-8) and the washing of the disciple’s feet (Jn 13:1-20) are set in a meal context. However, in these two narratives John is much less concerned with the meal as such but rather goes beyond the meal setting to a metaphorical meaning. Some scholars find a close connection between these two narratives while others do not find such a correspondence. However, the stories not only have an interconnection but also have a connection with the Lukan representation of Mary choosing the better part (cf. Lk 10:42). Jesus in his appreciation of Mary’s act, which has a clear connection with his hour, invites Martha to imitate Mary who chose to be at Jesus’ feet. Thus, the Lukan and the Johannine Jesus invites all women who interiorise their traditional roles and duties to come out of their enclosed walls to choose ‘the better part.’ In this paper, we will first analyse some of the traditional interpretations given to the interconnection between John 12:1-8 and 13:1-20. In the second part, we will offer a new understanding of the connection between these two pericope taking also into account Lk 10:42. In the third part, we will critically apply the result of our investigation to the context of Asian women from a Normativity of the Future Approach.
Bincy Matthew begins her paper on “Diminishing Supper, Increasing Love: The Anointing Mary (John 12:1-8) and the Footwashing Jesus (John 13:1-20) as the Representors of Asian Women” by reflecting on The Anointing Mary (John 12:1-8) and the Footwashing Jesus (John 13:1-20) as diminishing supper and increasing love. The Gospel of John is often interwoven with meals. There is a focus on meal at Bethany (John 12:1-8) and the final meal of Jesus with disciples (John 13:1-38). In Luke, there is the challenge to Martha (Luke 10:1-38) that conveys how banquet is diminished and love is increased. In connection to these stories, the story of the anointing woman in Luke 7:38-39 and John 12:1-8 can imply a correction to Simon by conveying the message of how banquet gives way to live and life again by building on the excessive love of women. In relation to this, John 13, is a story of intimacy rather than domination. The point of footwashing is love and its perfection; thus, rewriting the relationship into that of friends.
Bincy reads scripture in a way that expresses a normativity of the future where “the future makes ethical claims on the present” (Beiringer). By following the steps for this interpretation, the vision encoded in the text itself is decoded: Women and Jesus cross over traditional boundaries. These daring women in Scripture are shining examples for Asian women who unfortunately do not break the walls of the kitchen leading them to the dining room. In all these instances, the evangelists, knowingly or unknowingly, reduce the importance of the food and serving, where Asian women’s presence is very much seen. However, they heighten the value of equality based on love and life (the meaning of food), which points to the soteriology of the Gospels.