Marriage of Jesus 3 Listening women

In the previous posting we saw that it was not uncommon to chose for celibacy. There were even leading Jewish thinkers who praised such men for their choice.

Also years and centuries after Jesus had died some major teachers wanted to stay unmarried. Several people who thought it was their duty to spend most of their time to study the Word of God, considered it not practical to go into a marriage covenant. Matrimony would take up more time than they wanted to lose to study Gods Word.

Jesus carried God His Word in his heart, but he was not afraid to loose to much time spending it with ordinary people. There were several Jewish teachers at the time of Jesus who secluded themselves from women accompany. Jesus was not afraid to come close to children and women. By the followers of Christ there were also some women in their company who had been healed of various evil afflictions and illnesses: Mary, the one called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out;  Joanna, wife of Chuza, Herod’s manager; and Susanna—along with many others who used their considerable means to provide for the group. Those women serving the men from their possessions, let us known that they had a good relation with them all, but that they really believed in the cause of that Nazarene man Jeshua (Jesus Christ) (Luke 8:2-3)

“2 and a number of women who had been healed from evil spirits and illnesses—Miryam (called Magdalit), from whom seven demons had gone out; 3 Yochanah the wife of Herod’s finance minister Kuza; Shoshanah; and many other women who drew on their own wealth to help him.” (Luke 8:2-3 CJB)

Harold Copping Jesus at the home of Martha and Mary 400.jpg

Martha on the left, Jesus at the house of Mary and Martha, Harold Copping. – Virgin, Myrrhbearer, Wonder Worker of Southern Gaul

From the gospels we also get to know that Jesus not always travelled on his own. He had his followers around him and there were women like Martha, the sister of  Mary, who welcomed him into her home. The sister Mary sat at the rabbi’s feet and listened to him talk. Jesus considered Mary having made the right choice, listening to him. By listening to Jesus preaching many women learned from him and where able to give his teachings to others. Mary from Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, was also such a woman eager to learn form Jesus, who praised her for that. (Luke 10:38-42) Several of these women are mentioned by name in the New Testament gospels, including, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna, who together helped to support Jesus and his other disciples financially. But nothing in the New Testament suggests that Jesus was ever married to any of these women, or to any other woman, for that matter.

Magdala Archaeological site near the Sea of Galilee

Miriam or Mary was a very common name. Many women with that name are mentioned in the biblical gospels, including Jesus’ mother and Mary from Bethany. The other “Mary” who gets a lot of attention is the one from Magdala, also called “Magadan” at the coast. Dalmanutha, as it was also called, was on the shores of the Sea of Gallilee where Jesus went to after he fed the four thousand. (Mark 8:10) the place would later also play a role during the Jewish Revolt.

We can not tell if this place was Mary her home or her birthplace, but most Christian scholars assume that she was from the place the Talmud calls Magdala Nunayya. We do know that this “Magdalene,” which means “from the village of Magdala,” accompanied Jesus on his preaching mission and helped to support him financially (Luke 8:1-3).

The apostle Luke talks about seven demons that had been cast out of her, presumably by Jesus (Luke 8:2). Nothing in this passage suggests that there was anything unusual about Mary’s relationship with Jesus, other than the very unusual fact that she was included among Jesus’ retinue. Having this woman prominent present during Jesus’ last days, may indicate she really was a serious follower, and that she might have some special affection for him. But we may not gallop and think this would mean they had a sexual relationship.

File:José de Ribera 024.jpg

The Penitent Mary Magdalene as Thaïs, fragment – José de Ribera, Prado Museum, Madrid

Mary Magdalene was probably one of more women who where close to this teacher. Though Jewish teachers in Jesus’ day usually didn’t teach women or include them as followers, Jesus involved them in his spreading the Good News. Perhaps such an inclusive practice may have been virtually unique, and his relationship with Mary and her female counterparts quite counter-cultural. She and some other women were there supporting Jesus in his final moments and mourning his death. John the Beloved and she were the courageous ones who stayed with Jesus at the stake after the other disciples  had fled. She was also present at his funeral and when she with a couple of female companions went to the tomb of Jesus, found it empty. She is the only person that all four Gospels say was first to realize that Jesus had risen and to testify to that central teaching of our faith. This makes her also so special, because it was as if it was meant that she would be the first contact of the resurrected Christ.

Just because she was there at the

“beginning of a movement that was going to transform the West” {“Mary Magdalene, the clichés”}

many want to give her a special place of interest. In several countries she is even honoured as a saint and receives such devotion like she is a goddess. She is often called the “Apostle to the Apostles”, an honorific that fourth-century orthodox theologian Augustine gave her. {Doyle, Ken. “Apostle to the apostles: The story of Mary Magdalene”. Catholictimes, 11 September 2011}

We may assume she really was a young woman to have been of leadership among the women following Jesus.

Several centuries after the biblical gospels were written, Mary became associated with the prostitute or harlot who bathed and anointed Jesus’ feet (Luke 7:36-50). But there’s nothing in Scripture that makes this connection. We have no reason to believe that Mary had ever been such a girl of light virtue. In case she would have been a girl with loose or lax morals, that would only prove that already in Jesus time those could become converted and take a whole different attitude in life, worthy to their master and in honour to God.

For some it might be a nice asset to have  a serious man, full of love for God, having also the love for such degenerated person. The moralists would love to see the story being true having like in a fairy tale, the bad becoming good and marrying the prince. Having Jesus as the prince of light and Mary Magdalene as the human being from the darkness. Those who suggest that, because of her previous ‘profession’, Jesus had a sexual relationship with her outside of marriage, do not know very well the teachings of Jesus and do not understand what Jesus tried to bring over to the people. He would not do something where he knew his Father would be against such attitude. In case they would have been free of anything of which they could be accused off, to be against the Will of God, and they would have felt very much for each other, they could have made their vows. But then Jesus would have known his responsibility for his wife and would have taken care that somebody would take care of her after he would have been taken from the living. Before he would have died he then would have entrusted her into the care of somebody like the Beloved Disciple, just as he did with his mother. The absence of this action could suggests that Jesus and Mary were not married.

We may assume that Jesus may have held Mary in the highest regard, though not as his wife. Ironically, the efforts to turn Mary the disciple of Jesus into Mary the wife of Jesus actually minimizes how truly extraordinary she was as a central follower, supporter, and witness of Jesus.

In the next chapter we shall see that such marriage claims only rely on the evidence of non-canonical “gospels”  of which I mentioned already in the previous chapters that they have to be considered as a sort of fiction.

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Preceding articles:

Marriage of Jesus 1 Mary, John, Judas, Thomas and Brown

Marriage of Jesus 2 Standard writings about Jesus

Next article: Marriage of Jesus 3 Listening women

  • Magdala on Sea of Galilee (israel-tourguide.info)
    Magdala Nunayya (Magdala of the fishes) was an important Jewish city on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee established during the Hasmonean period, centuries before neighboring Tiberias. In Christian tradition, it is the birthplace of Mary Magdalene and where Jesus went after he fed the five thousand (Mark 8:10).
  • LISTEN: Mary Magdalene: The First Person to See the Risen Christ (The Unsung Heroes of Easter #8) (blackchristiannews.com)
    The first reason why Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene before anyone else could be because Mary Magdalene represented a direct triumph over the devil and his plan. Mark 16:9 states, “Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene…” Of course, we can be content to know that Christ simply appeared to Mary Magdalene first because he chose to do so. But I believe it is safe for us to say that Christ appeared to a woman first as a symbolic expression that the curse of sin that had been brought on humanity by the actions of a woman had been completely removed.
  • First Century Synagogue at Magdala – Did Jesus Worship Here? (holylandphotos.wordpress.com)
    The site of al–Majdal (Arabic for “tower”) is located 4 mi. northwest of Tiberias, along the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.  This is evidently the site of New Testament Magdala (from migdol “tower”) that is the same as Taricheae (“the place of salted fish”) mentioned by Josephus where a bloody naval battle took place between the Jews and Romans during the first Jewish Revolt (ca. A.D. 66–70; War 3.10.1–10 [462–542]).
  • Archaeologists: Bible town possibly found (mobile.wnd.com)
    Archaeologists say they’ve discovered an ancient town mentioned in the New Testament, and it could be the location to which Jesus sailed after miraculously feeding some 4,000 people by multiplying a few fish and loaves of bread.
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    Experts believe Magdala is the modern-day town of Migdal, slightly inland near Israel’s Ginosar Valley. Magdala is perhaps most famous for being the hometown of Mary Magdalene, a female disciple of Jesus who was the first person ever to see Christ after He rose from the dead.
  • Magdala on Sea of Galilee (lavenderturquois.wordpress.com)
    The original excavations at the site were done by the Franciscan, Corbo in the 1970s. Paved streets and a large colonnaded square typical of a Roman city were found, along with buildings with mosaic floors. On the floor of one urban villa, an image of a sailing ship, a type of Mediterranean vessel modified for the lake, was found in mosaic.
  • 14. Hike the Bible – Mary Magdalene (biblescienceguy.wordpress.com)
    It’s possible that Mary “was called Magdalene” (Luke 8:2), because she was very tall. Magdala means tower in Aramaic as does Migdal in Hebrew. It would distinguish her from others named Mary, just as today we might distinguish one Tom from another by calling one Big Tom. Contemporary slang translations might be “Mega Mary” or “Mary the Tall” or “Mary the Great.” In early Christian art Mary was often depicted as taller than the apostles.
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    The prominence of Mary of Magdala is further underscored by calling her simply “Magdalene” without connecting her to a family. Frequently women in the Gospels were identified by husbands, such as “Joanna the wife of Chuza” (Luke 8:3) or “Mary the wife of Clopas” (John 19:25) and by sons, such as “Mary the mother of James and Joseph” (Mat 27:56; Mark 15:40, 47; 16:1), Salome “the mother of the sons of Zebedee” and sister of Mary the mother of Jesus (Mat 27:56; Mark 15:40; Mark 16:1; John 19:25).
  • Mary of Magdala; Tenth in a Series “Chosen Women in the Life of Christ” (asistershugs.wordpress.com)
    Mary Magdalene seems to have shared the spirit of Peter; she saw, questioned, believed, and then followed through!  We see her mingling with the Apostles and the other disciples of Jesus; caring for their need of food and domestic care.  I can almost imagine the women washing clothes, fetching water, preparing meals; all the while listening to the men as they questioned Jesus and heard His teachings.  I can hear them singing along with the group as they walked from town to town; sharing stories between themselves as women always do.
  • Festival of Saint Mary Magdalene (brvanlanen.wordpress.com)
    Following the assumption (possibly quite misguided) that Mary Magdalene truly had been a spectacular sinner whose penitential sorrow was deep and complete — and possibly because John described her as crying at the tomb of Jesus — artists often portray her either as weeping or with red eyes from having wept. This appearance (and a slight corruption in translation) led to the English word “maudlin,” meaning “effusively or tearfully sentimental.” Magdalen College at Oxford and Magdalene College at Cambridge (note the different spellings) — both pronounced “Maudlin” — derive their names from this Saint Mary.
  • Mary Magdalene – What’s in a name? (christiantoday.com)
    “None of the historians, people like Josephus or any of the other Greek or Latin texts of that period, reference a town called Magdala,” she said at a lecture at King’s College last night.This is a rather large stumbling block for the traditional theory. If this town was called ‘Magdala’, why wasn’t it mentioned in the writings of the time?There is another problem too. The word ‘Magdela’ is the Aramaic word for ‘Tower’.

    Professor Taylor says this challenges the traditional theory as the name is “not distinctive” and “seems rather odd”.

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