First, a presupposition: in the First Century, the normal posture of Rabbis teaching was seated. Disciples stood and listened. Normally, that is. With that in mind, perhaps we need to reconsider what’s going on in Luke 10:38ff.
38 As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. 39 She had a sister named Mary (who) sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. 40 Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” 41 The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. 42 There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”
And the underlying Greek text-
38 Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ πορεύεσθαι αὐτοὺς καὶ αὐτὸς εἰσῆλθεν εἰς κώμην τινά· γυνὴ δέ τις ὀνόματι Μάρθα ὑπεδέξατο αὐτόν εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν. 39 καὶ τῇδε ἦν ἀδελφὴ καλουμένη Μαριάμ, ἣ καὶ παρακαθεσθεῖσα πρὸς τοὺς πόδας τοῦ κυρίου ἤκουεν τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ· 40 ἡ δὲ Μάρθα περιεσπᾶτο περὶ πολλὴν διακονίαν· ἐπιστᾶσα δὲ εἶπεν· κύριε, οὐ μέλει σοι ὅτι ἡ ἀδελφή μου μόνην με κατέλιπεν διακονεῖν; εἰπὸν οὖν αὐτῇ ἵνα μοι συναντιλάβηται. 41 ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ εἶπεν αὐτῇ ὁ κύριος· Μάρθα Μάρθα, μεριμνᾷς καὶ θορυβάζῃ περὶ πολλά, 42 ἑνὸς δέ ἐστιν χρεία· Μαρία γὰρ τὴν ἀγαθὴν μερίδα ἐξελέξατο, ἥτις οὐκ ἀφαιρεθήσεται αὐτῆς.
The bold words are important.
Mary sat (took the posture of the Rabbi?) at Jesus feet and heard his word. ‘Sat’ is an aorist participle, deponent (so either reflexive or passive in function) = ‘sat herself’ or ‘was sat down’. The word only occurs here in the New Testament. ‘Heard’ is an imperfect active indicative verb (so it implies ongoing action in the past = ‘kept hearing’).
Perhaps what we have here then is a fascinating once in the Gospels event: Mary sits as the Rabbi and Jesus and the others are standing around dialogging with her (she ‘keeps hearing’ his responses). Martha gets more than a little annoyed with her and walks up to Jesus, objecting (as anyone would!). Jesus’ response, ‘leave her alone, she has chosen the best thing in the world to do- and I’m not going to take that from her!’
Grammatically, linguistically, exegetically, and historically there’s no hindrance, is there, to this reading. And if there is, I’d enjoy your insights.