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The Biblical Mary Magdalene

There are many myths about Mary Magdalene. We’ve already encountered the two most famous in Part 1 of this post, but there are others in addition to those two. In some stories, Mary has also become the lover and wife of Jesus and even the mother of his child. There is an entire “Gospel of Mary Magdalene” dating all the way back to the third century – 200 years after Jesus lived. This “gospel” claims that Mary was the appointed leader of the Church after Jesus’ ascension.

Are any of these true? In which Bible books and verses can we find any of these stories? The answers are “No” and “None”.

So what does the Bible have to say about Mary of Magdala? We find her mentioned in all four Gospels. However, in Matthew, Mark and John, she is only mentioned in the Crucifixion and Resurrection narratives. John has her at the cross (John 19:25), as does Matthew (Matt 27:55-56). Mark has her at the grave (Mark 15:47). All four have her witnessing the empty grave after the Resurrection (Matt 28:1; Mark 16:1,9; Luke 24:10; John 20:1; 18). That’s all we read of Mary Magdalene in the entire Bible – except for one other time.

Soon afterwards, He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, – Luke 8:1-2

This is the only information we have regarding Mary other than seeing her as a disciple at the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. It is proper for us to make some educated guesses about her, but there is a difference between educated guesses based on the Biblical accounts and fictional fantasies made up in the imagination of inventive individuals. Hence, it is right to talk about her love and dedication to Jesus, her appreciation to him for what he did for her (specifically, the removal of the seven demons) or the honor bestowed upon her by Jesus when He presented Himself to her first, even before any of the Twelve Disciples. These teachings are not necessarily explicitly mentioned in the Bible but we can certainly imply them from the Biblical accounts.

However, to assume she is a prostitute, adulterer, or any of the other legends that have cropped up is beyond the scope of proper exegesis (understanding what the author intended).

In part 3 of this blog, I will give a better option for who might be the woman in the city who was a sinner.

Your Turn:

What are your thoughts about Mary Magdalene, the non-prostitute? Any other insights that can be gleaned from what we have read about her in the Bible? Anyone willing to guess who might be the loose woman? Add your comments below.