The fourth gospel presents the reader with an early Christian text in which women and men are treated as "e;a discipleship of equals. ? Margaret M. Beirne makes an argument for the existence in the gospel of six examples of "e;gender pairs ? of characters (a widely-accepted Lukan feature). The members of each pair are portrayed in a parallel or contrasting faith encounter with the Johannine Jesus, that is of substantial theological importance to the gospel's stated purpose (John 20:31). Through close examination of these pairs, Beirne offers a reading of the Gospel which gives support to the equality of women and men with respect to the nature and value of their discipleship.