Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Mary called Magdalene

There is a woman mentioned in the New Testament of the Bible, one of the few mentioned several times by name. Her name was Mary. She was called the Magdalene. I would presume that is because that was where she was from. Perhaps it was just a nickname - after all, of the woman mentioned by name in the New Testament, most of them appear to be named Mary. There had to be some way to distinguish her.

What do we know about Mary, called Magdalene from the Bible? Very little. We know that Jesus cured her. He cast out seven demons from her. (Mark 16:9, Luke 8:2) She traveled with Jesus and his disciples (Luke 8:1-2). She witnessed the crucifixion. (Matthew 27:56, Mark 15:40, John 19:25). She attended his burial (Matthew 27:60-62, Mark 15:47). She went to the tomb on Sunday morning to properly annoint the body and found the tomb empty (Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1, Luke 24:1-10, John 20:1). She announced this finding to the disciples and in two of the gospels (John 20:11-18 and Mark 16:9) she is the first to see and speak to the Risen Lord.

From this small amount of information Mary Magdalene has been turned over by popular culture to a prostitute and Jesus's wife and the mother of his children. Seems like kind of a big leap to me.

Did Jesus love Mary Magdalene?

He loved all that followed him. He loved everyone.

Did Mary Magdalene love Jesus?

She stayed to witness his death and burial, she went as soon as possible to annoint his body. You don't do this for a casual acquaintance.

Did Jesus and Mary have a special relationship?

Two accounts have her as the first person who sees the Risen Christ. One account has him speaking to her. I'd say that she was special to him.

We don't know a lot about Jesus's life. Part of his three years of public ministry is recorded in the Gospels. Nothing about his personal life is recorded. We don't know if he was in love with any particular woman. We don't know if he ever married. It doesn't say he did - it also doesn't say he didn't. I believe he didn't marry. After all, men in that time period often did not marry until they were about thirty and able to support a family - he turned thirty and became an itinerant minister.

But I believe that Mary Magdalene was an important part of Jesus's inner circle and that she has gotten a bad rap. Do people only believe she would be there if Jesus were having a personal relationship with her? Why?

In the Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown supports the theory that Mary and Jesus wed. Interesting to contemplate - but no evidence to back it up. But why do people flock to that theory? Do they think woman can only be important if there is sex involved? That is a denigrating way to view women. Can't we as a society do better than that?

It's something to think about.

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