Holy Rosary Aleteia July 22, 2020

Mary Magdalene is one of the most misunderstood characters in the Gospels, as much of her reputation is based on extra-biblical sources. It can be difficult to sort through these legends to discover what is true and what is false, but what is relatively easy to do is simply identify those Bible passages that mention her by name.

In the Gospels, Mary Magdalene is mentioned 13 times, and nearly all of these passages are connected to Jesus’ Passion, death, and resurrection.

For example, if a person were to open the New Testament and start reading, the first specific mention of her name occurs in the Gospel of Matthew, and it isn’t until Jesus’ death on the cross.

There were many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him. Among them were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. (Matthew 27:55-56)

In the Gospel of Mark we are given a little information about her background, which is echoed in the Gospel of Luke.

When he had risen, early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told his companions who were mourning and weeping. (Mark 16:9)

Afterward [Jesus] journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources. (Luke 8:1-3)

It isn’t until we reach the Gospel of John that we find Mary Magdalene’s first piece of dialogue.

On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” (John 20:1-2)

Chapter 20 in the Gospel of John provides the largest amount of information we know about Mary Magdalene, as she converses with Jesus and the apostles.

Besides these explicit mentions of Mary Magdalene, it is possible that she appears in other passages that only mention a woman named “Mary” or the woman who was caught in adultery. However, that is up for debate among Scripture scholars and continues to be a focus of continued study.



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