Mary Magdalene


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Mary Magdalene

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As is indicated by her name, Mary Magdalene came from the town of Magdala, on the western shore of Lake Galilee. It was a prosperous town, dominated by Gentile interests, and a port town, with all that implies.

Mary enters the gospel story as one of a group of women who joined Jesus and his disciples during Jesus’ ministry in Galilee, and who financially supported his mission (Luke 8:1-3). This information comes only from Luke, who adds that Jesus had healed some of the women, and in particular had driven seven demons out of Mary Magdalene.

A mistake was made back in History and Mary Magdalene became mistaken for Mary the postitute who washed Jesus feet with her tears and dried them with her hair, and also Mary of Bethany the sister of Martha. It was obviously a common name back in Jesus day and there were 3 of them or more, so the mixup is understandable and forgiveable. But Mary Magdalene often depicted as a penitent postitute in art, was probably not a prostitute at all. Rather she was an intelligent and wealthy woman who had been plagued by demons until Jesus set her free.

What we know for certain about Mary Magdalene is that she followed Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem and contributed financially to Jesus’ cause (Mark 15:4:41; Luke 8:1-3). When the disciples fled in fear after Jesus arrest it was Mary Magdalene and John who stayed with him right through and were present at the crucifixion, comforting Jesus mother (Mark 15:40; John 19:25). It was they who after the death of Jesus, took spices to the tomb to anoint his body (Mark 16:1; Luke 23:55-24:1). Mary and the other women reported the empty tomb to the 11 disciples (Luke 24:1-11), though the report was not believed (Luke 24:11).

In John’s Gospel, Mary Magdalene has an even more prominent role in the resurrection accounts. She is the one who runs to fetch Peter and another disciple and the first person to see the risen Jesus. Mary meets Jesus outside the empty tomb and mistakes him for the gardener (John 20:1-18). Mary Magdalene is the first witness of the resurrection who can say “I have seen the Lord” (John 20:18). Mary Magdalene’s involvement with the ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus, on the criteria of (Acts 1:21,22), makes her the equal of the apostles.

Mary can still not escape controversy, as it is claimed that she was to be the Apostle to the Apostles and may have been the wife of Jesus Christ. It is possible, it was unusual for a Rabbi not to be married and she travelled with Jesus and the others. It is reported in one of the apocryphal gospels that Jesus spent much time with her, that she understood him and his ministry more than anyone else and that he kissed her. None of that changes who Jesus was or is, or what he did and does. When did marriage become a sin? It doesn't change the fact of his being God's son and the Messiah. Many Old Testament Prophets were married as were all the Patriach's. Wife or not - she stands equal to the disciples and deserves remembrance and respect.

Some legends say that she lived with Jesus mother and the disciple John in Ephesus, and died there. Other legends say that she died in France.

BORN: Magdala, Israel

DIED: Ephesus, Turkey, Or France.

Quotes at the bottom of our prayer pages today come from the 'Gospel of Mary'. This was found in the late-19th Century somewhere near Akhmim in upper Egypt and became part of the Berlin Gnostic Codex (Papyrus Berolinensis 8502). Two more fragments were discovered in the 20th Century. The translation was finally printed and released in 1955. Academics say it is not written by Mary but is about her.