Mary Magdalene (1st Century)
Mary Magdalene was a follower of Jesus who witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. She ran to tell His disciples the Good News. By this act, she became the first preacher of the Good News and the first woman preacher. Although you can read her story in the Bible, much of her life has been distorted and rewritten to support the positions of those who told her story.
What we know about Mary Magdalene:
We don’t know when Mary was born or when she died, but we do know she was mentioned in the Bible 12 times as a follower of Jesus and numerous times in other documents.
There were other Marys in the Bible, but this Mary was always referred to as Mary Magdalene, probably because she was from Magdala on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. Because some Talmudic passages refer to her as Miriam “hamegadela se’ar nasha” or “Miriam, the plaiter of women’s hair”, she might have been a hair dresser, not a prostitute.
Luke 8:1-3 and Mark 16:9 states that Jesus delivered Mary from seven demons. In Matthew 27:56, Mark 15:40, and John 19:25 mention that Mary was at the crucifixion of Christ along with Jesus’ mother Mary.
We also know in Matthew 27:61, Matthew 28:1, and Mark 16:1 that Mary went to the tomb with some other woman to anoint Jesus body early Sunday morning. John 20:1 shows that Mary saw the stone rolled away. She was a witness to the resurrection. In Mark 16:9, Jesus appeared first to Mary. In Luke 24, Mary ran to the disciples and told them what she saw, making her the first person to share the good news.
False Rumors about Mary:
Mary’s name is often linked to an unnamed sinner in Luke 7:36-50, but there is no evidence they were the same person. Mary is also linked to the woman of ill repute who bathed Jesus’ feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair in Matthew 7. Again, this woman was unnamed, and it’s very unlikely it was Mary since she was often named when other women weren’t. Many times, Mary is also confused with other Marys such as Martha’s sister. It makes things confusing because there were so many Marys, but Mary is referred to as Mary Madeline so often that other references to Mary are likely not that Mary.
The theory of Mary being a prostitute was started in the Middle Ages when priests wanted to refute women in ministry, but all historical accounts from that time period show that the male disciples considered Mary an apostle in the early church. The other false story that Mary was Jesus’ secret wife has no credible historical evidence. Some try to point to a document written 200 years after Jesus that speculates about it but offers no proof and goes against other documents of that time period.
Mary Madeline was a remarkable woman who followed Jesus to His crucifixion, was present at His resurrection, and was the first person to share the Good News. Jesus is risen, He is risen indeed.