But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.” (Luke 24:1-12 ESV)

If someone wanted to start a new religion in the first century the last thing they would ever do is have women play such a crucial role in its beginnings. But that is the case with Christianity. Jesus refused to be governed by the fear of man or cultural norms. He only did what he saw his Father doing, such as approaching the woman at the well and ministering to her, which was unacceptable in that culture. She left the presence of Jesus as a transformed woman and immediately evangelized her community. The fact that the Jews of Jesus’ day despised the Samaritans and that it was unacceptable for a Jewish teacher to talk to a woman in public did not deter his ministry. (John 4)

One of the reasons to believe the gospels is the honesty in which they were written. As Richard Bauckham says in his book Jesus A Very Short Introduction, ” He taught women as well as men, not something one may take for granted in that society.”  Women were the first to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. If Jesus’ disciples wanted to spread a lie about their founder rising from the dead, they would have never used the testimony of women.

Here is another quote from Bauckham, “But these eyewitnesses were women! As almost every scholar notes, in that society women were not trusted to give evidence. They were thought to be more emotional than men, and especially in religious matters apt to be credulous, too easily swayed by emotion. Celsus, a 2nd-century intellectual despiser of Christianity, dismissed the alleged testimony of Mary Magdalene by calling her ‘a hysterical female.’ Luke’s Gospel candidly admits that at first even the male disciples did not believe these women’s report. Not only were women unreliable; it was unsuitable that women should be the first recipients of what was, in effect, a divine revelation. If Jesus had risen from death, the men ought to have been the first to know.”  Richard Bauckham, Jesus A Very Short Introduction, pages 105-106. I believe the men got over it!