Mary’s Resolutions and Resilience: A Historical Narrative

Bewildered and in shock, Mary half runs, half stumbles away from Simon’s ornate home. The chill night air reddens her face as she clutches at her torn robe and wipes away blinding tears. Minutes ago Simon had compelled her to have sexual relations.[1] He then threatened to have her cast out of the temple if she told anyone or if she didn’t return every Tuesday evening. Mary knows, that as a highly respected Pharisee, Simon has the power and influence to back up his dire warning.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11596
2 Likes

[quote=“spectrumbot, post:1, topic:22373”]
Minutes ago Simon had compelled her to have sexual relations.[1] He then threatened to have her cast out of the temple if she told anyone or if she didn’t return every Tuesday evening. Mary knows, that as a highly respected Pharisee, Simon has the power and influence to back up
A good compilation from Ellen White (and Dougbatchelor), champions in destroying the innocent, decent character of this faithful follower of her Master. Mary of Magdala (Galilee) and Mary of Bethany are not one and the same. The sinful woman was a different one altogether. Magdalene was not a prostitute as portrayed by Ellen White. The mischief was actually was done by pope Gregory l, Ellen White conveniently adopted his false teaching. Both the Marys were of sound character.

1 Like

there’s only one account of a woman anointing jesus with ointment in each of the four gospels…Matthew, Mark and John set this account in Bethany…Matthew, Mark and Luke identify this setting as the house of Simon, and Luke identifies Simon as a Pharisee…Matthew, Mark and John position this anointing close to the crucifixion, while Luke seems to position it earlier…

Matthew and Mark say the woman anointed jesus’ head…Luke and John say she anointed jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her tears and hair…Matthew, Mark and Luke say the ointment was in an alabaster box, and Matthew, Mark and John say the ointment was expensive…Matthew, Mark and John say jesus accepted this anointing in terms of his impending burial, Luke says jesus accepted this anointing as a form of sincere repentance…

if we read the gospels in full recognition that they, in addition to the rest of the bible, are rife with factual errors, it isn’t difficult to see that they’re describing the same scene from the perspective of different, conflicting memories…the portrayal of Mary as a sinner, or prostitute, in Luke, but also a cohort of Lazarus and Martha, with no second Mary mentioned, in John, makes it reasonable to see Mary Magdalene, the prostitute, and Mary of Bethany as one and same…

and are you suggesting that a repentant prostitute, whom christ freely and openly forgave and commended, and who was obviously accepted by the disciples, wasn’t of a sound character…

in any case, and as you know, the current pope says the two Mary’s are different, as you do…so when it comes to mischievously adopting a false teaching from a pope, take your pick…

Elizabeth Schrader looked at the Lazarus story (John 11) in the oldest nearly complete manuscript we have of the book of John, discovered in Egypt in 1952 and written around 200AD.
She made a great discovery. Over 100 ancient manuscripts of the book of John, were examined and it was noted that there is evidence of a gradual change in the transmission of John 11 from Lazarus having one sister (Mary) to Lazarus having two sisters (Mary and Martha).

Many ancient manuscripts containing John 11 have the name of Mary corrected to Martha and the word sister (singular) changed to sisters (plural). For example in the first manuscript she examined the word ‘Maria,’ (or Mary) had been altered, with the Greek iota symbol – the ‘i’ –scratched out and replaced with a ‘th’ that changed the name to ‘Martha.’ And in a later verse, a woman’s name was replaced with ‘the sisters.

Elizabeth has suggested that this might have been a deliberate attempt at minimizing the legacy of Mary Magdalene.

Among the ancient towns in Israel, Magdala is the only ancient town in which 2 synagogues have been discovered. In spite of its thriving fishing industry, the residents seem to have been God fearing. We cannot say that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute, just because she came from a prosperous town. Magdala was not another Corinth.

Ellen White took the bait from pope Gregory, so followed her followers. No serious Bible student would ever conclude Magdalene a prostitute. She was delivered from evil spirits along with other women and for which was grateful to the end. Mary of Bethany was grateful for her brother raised from the dead for which she honoured Jesus. The sinful women I believe was different from these women. If you believe otherwise, no problem.

Not really, the events in Luke 7 and John 12 cannot be the same event, because
in Luke it takes place in the home of Simon the Pharisee in the land of Galilee (in the north)
and in John it takes place in the house of Mary (of Bethany), Martha, and
Lazarus in the land of Judea (in the south). Galilee and Judea were separated by Samaria

in my bible, the books of Matthew and Mark say jesus was anointed in the house of Simon the leper, and that it was in Bethany (Matt 26:6; Mark 14:3)…the book of Luke doesn’t specify Bethany as the location of the house, but it says the house belonged to Simon the pharisee (Lk 7:36, 40)…the book of Luke also positions jesus in judea earlier in the chapter (Lk 7:17)…

the book of john in my bible says the anointing took place in Bethany, but it doesn’t specify the setting as the house of Mary (of Bethany), Martha, and Lazarus in the land of Judea (in the south), or of Simon, or anyone’s house…it simply says Lazarus was in Bethany when jesus came there, and that he sat at the table with jesus for the supper that was set for jesus, and that Martha served at this supper…

putting this together, it is clear that simon the leper was simon the pharisee, and that his house was in Bethany, not in Galilee…and despite some of the discrepancies in the accounts, it is more probable than not that the singular event that all the gospels are describing are the same event…

Mary was a common name during the new testament times. Of the 14 women named in the new testament, 6 share the name Mary. We cannot just assume that some of the mentioned people called Mary and unnamed women are all Mary Magdalene.

Additionally, the anointing events take place at different times in the ministry of jesus, in Luke Jesus is anointed by the unnamed sinful woman at the beginning of his ministry just after he had selected the 12 apostles (Luke 6). In John Jesus is anointed by Mary of Bethany towards the end of his ministry just before The Last Supper. They are not the same event.

Towards The End Of The Ministry of Jesus In The House of The House of Martha, Mary and Lazarus in Bethany, Judea (in the south)
John 11:5-7 Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, 6 after having heard that Lazarus[b] was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7 Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”

John 11:17-19 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother.

John 12:1-3 Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. 2 There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. 3 Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.

At The Beginning Of The Ministry of Jesus In The House of Simon the Pharisee in Galilee (in the north)

Luke 7:36-37 One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and He went into the Pharisee’s house [in the region of Galilee] and reclined at the table. 37 Now there was a woman in the city who was [known as] a sinner; and [b]when she found out that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume;

The unnamed sinful woman who anoints Jesus in Luke 7 is not Mary Magdalene, because Mary Magdalene is actually introduced by Luke in his very next story (Luke 8:1–3), where he gives her name (Mary), her identification (of the town of Magdala), and describes something about her (“from whom seven demons had gone out”). If the earlier story of Luke 7 were about Mary, he would have introduced her for the first time there, not later

According to Bart Ehrman, this account wasn’t part of any of the Gospels, but was added later. The writing style is different from anything written by John, both before and after this story, and includes wording found nowhere else in the Gospels.

(For what it’s worth…)

1 Like

this is not the basis for the belief that the woman who anointed jesus is Mary Magdalene…for one thing, John names her simply as Mary, and assumes she is part of the trio of Lazarus, Martha and Mary…Matthew, Mark and Luke don’t name her, but Luke describes her as a “sinner”, which we can easily understand as a euphemism for prostitute…perhaps her relative boldness in Simon’s house suggests familiarity with this house…perhaps her use of her hair and tears to wipe jesus’ feet suggests familiarity with different aspects of the sense of touch, and of using that sense to service men…

Matthew, Mark and John position the anointing towards the end of Jesus ministry, while Luke inserts it somewhat earlier…Luke also uses it to show jesus’ power to forgive sins, which was wondered at, and which may explain this discrepancy…

of note is the fact that Matthew, Mark and Luke say the anointing took place in a Simon’s house by a woman with ointment in an alabaster box (your Amplified Bible supplies the detail that Simon’s house was in the region of Galilee, but neither the KJV nor NIV do)…these details cannot be coincidental, and they cannot be describing different events…

Luke’s naming of Mary Magdalene immediately after her anointing of jesus, as part of his cohort, is interesting, but it doesn’t overcome the difficulty of believing that there was more than one anointing in a Simon’s house by a woman with ointment in an alabaster box…the importance of the fact that John names the woman as Mary, and Luke cites a Mary Magdalene with an obvious past as part of jesus’ cohort immediately after this story cannot be overlooked…

Luke 7:36-37 , takes place somewhere near Nain, in the Galilee.

Luke 7:11 Jesus left Capernaum where He had healed a centurions servant from a distance, without even seeing him. Now He and his disciples traveled on down to Nain, a town about 25 miles southwest of Capernaum.

The story of the sinful woman in the book of John is dismissed as non-canonical based on its very poor manuscript evidence. There are no major Greek manuscripts prior to the eighth century that include the story except Codex Bezae, possible the most free of all the uncials. It is known in the Old Latin versions, indicating that the story was known in the western church. There are many ninth century byzantine texts that include the story, but often with an indication by the scribe that the story was doubtful. It is missing in all major Greek manuscripts and in all eastern versions and eastern fathers, as well as the earliest lectionaries.

Internal evidence is not much better. The location of the story shifts from John 7:53 to the end of John, to after Luke 21:38 or Luke 24:53 Additionally, the twelve verses of the story have the highest rate of major text variants in the New Testament.

Gary M. Burge, “A Specific Problem In The New Testament Text And Canon: The Woman Caught In Adultery (John 7:53-8:11)

Luke 7 is a hodge-podge of anecdotes and events…i don’t think we need to think that because they’re compiled in the same chapter, they’re somehow contiguous…

but this is only if the stories recorded in all four gospels are one and the same…if they are not one and the same, and if there are three, or even four separate anointings - possibly copy cat events - in the house of at least three different simons, and on opposite ends of palestine, there are no textual variants to consider…

Before dismissing the work done by the bible scholars involved in the translation of the English bibles we use from the ancient copies of biblical manuscripts, please read about their work on bible translation and textual variants. Nowadays you can even watch their presentations on bible translation and textual variants on youtube.

The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration by Bruce M. Metzger and Bart D. Ehrman

Presentation on the transmission of Mary of Bethany in the book of John

I’ve never believed (despite being taught) that Mary Bethany and Mary Magdala were the same person. This is a tradition thing and an EGW thing, just like the tradition thing and EGW thing about Joseph being an old man with grown up children and his wife Mary remaining a forever virgin with only one kiddo.

1 Like

there’s another piece of evidence we need to consider that i just suddenly thought of, namely John 11:1-2:

“Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)”

here we have a clear identification of the woman who anointed jesus in Bethany with costly spikenard ointment, in Jn 12, as Mary of Bethany…if this woman is the same woman who anointed jesus with costly spikenard ointment in an alabaster box in a Simon’s house in Bethany, in Mark 14, she is likely the same woman who anointed jesus with costly ointment in an alabaster box in a Simon’s house in Bethany in Matt 26, and with ointment in an alabaster box in a Simon’s house in Luke 7…and if she is the woman who anointed jesus in Luke 7, she is certainly a “sinner”, and more likely than not a prostitute, which points us directly to Mary Magdalene…this would mean that Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalene are the same woman…

i think we need to ask ourselves what the chances are that a story mentioned only once in each of the four gospels means that either two or three different women anointed jesus on two or three separate occasions (or one woman anointed him on two or three separate occasions), when three of these accounts position this anointing in Bethany, and shortly before jesus’ burial, and in a Simon’s house, using costly ointment, and when three of these accounts specifically mention an alabaster box, and two specifically mention spikenard ointment…

at some point we have to yield to the laws of probability, which say to us clearly that there was one anointing by one woman on one occasion, definitively named Mary of Bethany, but labeled euphemistically as a sinner, and therefore more than likely also Mary Magdalene, in the house of one Simon the pharisee, who was also a leper, and in the one town of Bethany…the differences in the gospel accounts of this story are not more marked than other differences in the description of events that we see in these same gospels, such as the number of cock crows before peter denied jesus three times; the geneologies of jesus; the father of joseph (Mary’s husband); whether jesus was born during Herod’s or Quirinius’ reign; whether the disciples left their boats and nets to follow jesus before or after he miraculously filled their nets with fish; whether or not the disciples were to carry staffs on their missionary journey; whether jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, or on a donkey and also a separate colt; whether the tree that jesus cursed withered at once, or only on the following morning; whether judas died by hanging himself, or by falling headlong and having all his bowels gush out; whether jesus was led to Caiaphas or to Annas, Caiaphas’ father-in-law, after his arrest; whether Barabbas was a murderer or a robber; whether Mary Magdalene, or Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James, or Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joanna were the first to discover jesus’ empty tomb; whether jesus ascended into heaven from Bethany or Mount Olivet; etc, etc, etc…

i think we have to accept the staggering plethora of important discrepancies, outright error and mistaken memories that we see in the gospels, sometimes by the same writer, even though these are inspired texts…in short, there’s no particular academic virtue in attaching particular significance to the discrepancies we see in the variant stories in these gospels of the woman who anointed jesus…

sermon mary magdalene

You have basically outlined the 6th century sermon of Pope Gregory the Great

1 Like