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Mary Magdalene, sometimes called Mary of Magdala, or simply the Magdalene or the Madeleine, was a woman who, according to the four
canonical gospel Gospel originally meant the Christian message, but in the 2nd century it came to be used also for the books in which the message was set out; in this sense a gospel can be defined as a loose-knit, episodic narrative of the words and deeds of Jes ...
s, traveled with
Jesus Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label=Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it ...

Jesus
as one of his followers and was a witness to his crucifixion and
resurrection Resurrection or anastasis is the concept of coming back to life after death. In a number of religions, a Dying-and-rising deity, dying-and-rising god is a deity which dies and resurrects. Reincarnation is a similar process hypothesized by ot ...
. She is mentioned by name twelve times in the canonical gospels, more than most of the
apostle An apostle (), in its most literal sense, is an emissary, from Greek ἀπόστολος (''apóstolos''), literally "one who is sent off", from the verb A verb, from the Latin ''wikt:verbum#Latin, verbum'' meaning ''word'', is a word (part o ...

apostle
s and more than any other woman in the gospels, other than Jesus's family. Mary's
epithet An epithet (, ) is a byname, or a descriptive term (word or phrase), accompanying or occurring in place of a name and having entered common usage. It has various shades of meaning when applied to seemingly real or fictitious people, divinities, ...
''Magdalene'' may mean that she came from the town of
Magdala Magdala (Aramaic language, Aramaic: מגדלא, ''Magdala'', meaning "tower"; Hebrew language, Hebrew: , ''Migdal''; ar, المجدل, ''al-Majdal'') was an ancient city on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, north of Tiberias. In the Babylonian Ta ...

Magdala
, a fishing town on the western shore of the
Sea of Galilee The Sea of Galilee ( he, יָם כִּנֶּרֶת, Judeo-Aramaic: יַמּא דטבריא, גִּנֵּיסַר, ar, بحيرة طبريا), also called Lake Tiberias, Kinneret or Kinnereth, is a freshwater Fresh water (or freshwater) is ...

Sea of Galilee
in
Roman Judea The Roman province The Roman provinces (Latin: ''provincia'', pl. ''provinciae'') were the administrative regions of Ancient Rome outside Italy that were controlled by the Romans under the Roman Republic and later the Roman Empire. Each p ...
. The
Gospel of Luke The Gospel according to Luke ( el, Εὐαγγέλιον κατὰ Λουκᾶν , translit=Euangélion katà Loukân), also called the Gospel of Luke or simply Luke, tells of the origins, birth Birth is the act or process of bearing or bringi ...
lists Mary Magdalene as one of the women who traveled with Jesus and helped support his ministry "out of their resources", indicating that she was probably relatively wealthy. The same passage also states that seven demons had been driven out of her, a statement which is repeated in
Mark 16 Mark 16 is the final chapter of the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Biblical canon#Christian ...
. In all the four canonical gospels, Mary Magdalene was a witness to the crucifixion of Jesus and, in the
Synoptic Gospels The gospel Gospel originally meant the Christian message ("the gospel#REDIRECT The gospel In Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testame ...
, she was also present at his burial. All the four gospels identified her, either alone or as a member of a larger group of women which includes Jesus's mother, as the first to witness the
empty tomb The empty tomb is the Christian tradition that on the morning of the first day of the week (Easter Sunday Easter,Traditional names for the feast in English are "Easter Day", as in the ''Book of Common Prayer A book is a medium for reco ...
, and, either alone or as a member of a group, as the first to witness Jesus's resurrection. For these reasons, Mary Magdalene is known in some Christian traditions as the "apostle to the apostles". Mary Magdalene is a central figure in later
Gnostic Gnosticism (from grc, γνωστικός, gnōstikós, , 'having knowledge') is a collection of religious ideas and systems which coalesced in the late 1st century AD among Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2ISO The I ...
Christian writings, including the Dialogue of the Savior, the ''
Pistis Sophia ''Pistis Sophia'' ( grc-koi, Πίστις Σοφία) is a Gnostic Gnosticism (from grc, γνωστικός, gnōstikós, , 'having knowledge') is a collection of religious ideas and systems which originated in the late 1st century CE among ...
'', the
Gospel of Thomas The Gospel of Thomas (also known as the Coptic Gospel of Thomas) is an extra-canonical sayings gospel. It was discovered near Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in December 1945 among a group of books known as the Nag Hammadi library. Scholars speculate ...

Gospel of Thomas
, the
Gospel of Philip The Gospel of Philip is one of the Gnostic Gospels, a text of New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Biblical canon#Christian ...
, and the
Gospel of Mary The Gospel of Mary is a book considered non-canonical in Christian orthodoxy discovered in 1896 in a 5th-century papyrus Papyrus ( ) is a material similar to thick paper that was used in ancient times as a writing surface. It was made from th ...

Gospel of Mary
. These texts portray Mary Magdalene as an apostle, as Jesus's closest and most beloved disciple and the only one who truly understood his teachings. In the
Gnostic texts Gnosticism Gnosticism (from grc, γνωστικός, gnōstikós, , 'having knowledge') is a collection of religious ideas and systems which originated in the late 1st century CE among Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , ...
, or Gnostic gospels, Mary Magdalene's closeness to Jesus results in tension with another disciple,
Peter Peter may refer to: People * List of people named Peter {{expand list, date=August 2020 Peter is a common name A name is a term used for identification by an external observer. They can identify a class or category of things, or a single thing ...

Peter
, due to her sex and Peter's envy of the special teachings given to her.
Gospel of Philip The Gospel of Philip is one of the Gnostic Gospels, a text of New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Biblical canon#Christian ...
's text where she is described as Jesus's companion, as the disciple Jesus loved the most and the one Jesus kissed on the mouth, has led some people to conclude that she and Jesus were in a relationship. Some fiction portrays her as the wife of Jesus. The portrayal of Mary Magdalene as a prostitute began in 591 when
Pope Gregory I Pope Gregory I ( la, Gregorius I; – 12 March 604), commonly known as Saint Gregory the Great, was the bishop of Rome A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally ent ...

Pope Gregory I
conflated Mary Magdalene, who was introduced in Luke 8:2, with
Mary of Bethany Mary of Bethany is a Bible, biblical figure mentioned only by name in the Gospel of John in the Christianity, Christian New Testament. Together with her siblings Lazarus of Bethany, Lazarus and Martha, she is described by John as living in the vill ...
(Luke 10:39) and the unnamed "sinful woman" who anointed Jesus's feet in . Pope Gregory's Easter sermon resulted in a widespread belief that Mary Magdalene was a repentant prostitute or promiscuous woman. Then elaborate medieval legends from western Europe emerged which told exaggerated tales of Mary Magdalene's wealth and beauty, as well as of her alleged journey to southern France. The identification of Mary Magdalene with Mary of Bethany and the unnamed "sinful woman" was still a major controversy in the years leading up to the
Reformation The Reformation (alternatively named the Protestant Reformation or the European Reformation) was a major movement within Western Christianity in 16th-century Europe that posed a religious and political challenge to the Catholic Church and in ...

Reformation
, and some
Protestant Protestantism is a form of that originated with the 16th-century , a movement against what its followers perceived to be in the . Protestants originating in the Reformation reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of , but disagree among themselves ...
leaders rejected it. During the
Counter-Reformation The Counter-Reformation (), also called the Catholic Reformation () or the Catholic Revival, was the period of Catholic Church, Catholic resurgence that was initiated in response to the Protestant Reformation, also known as the Protestant Revol ...
, the
Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Catholics Catholic Church by country, worldwide . As the wo ...

Catholic Church
emphasized Mary Magdalene as a symbol of
penance Penance is any act or a set of actions done out of repentance Repentance is reviewing one's actions and feeling contritionIn Christianity, contrition or contriteness (from the Latin ''contritus'' 'ground to pieces', i.e. crushed by guilt) is ...
. In 1969,
Pope Paul VI Pope Paul VI ( la, Paulus VI; it, Paolo VI; born Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini, ; 26 September 18976 August 1978) was head of the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the Li ...
removed the identification of Mary Magdalene with Mary of Bethany and the "sinful woman" from the
General Roman Calendar The General Roman Calendar is the liturgical Liturgy is the customary public worship Worship is an act of religion, religious wikt:devotion, devotion usually directed towards a deity. For many, worship is not about an emotion, it is mor ...
, but the view of her as a former prostitute has persisted in popular culture. Mary Magdalene is considered to be a
saint In religious belief, a saint is a person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of Q-D-Š, holiness, likeness, or closeness to God. However, the use of the term ''saint'' depends on the context and Christian denomination, denominatio ...

saint
by the
Catholic The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian r ...

Catholic
,
Eastern Orthodox The Eastern Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 220 million baptised members. It operates as a communion Communion may refer to: Religion * The Eucharist (also cal ...
,
Anglican Anglicanism is a Western Christianity, Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England following the English Reformation. Adherents of Anglicanism are called ''Anglicans''; t ...
, and
Lutheran Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism that identifies with the teachings of Jesus Christ and was founded by Martin Luther, a 16th-century German monk and Protestant Reformers, reformer whose efforts to reform the theology ...
churches. In 2016
Pope Francis Pope Francis ( la, Franciscus; it, Francesco; es, link=, Francisco; born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 17 December 1936) is the head of the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the , with 1.3&nb ...

Pope Francis
raised the level of liturgical memory on July 22 from memorial to
feast A banquet (; ) is a formal large meal or feast, where a number of people consume food together. Banquets are traditionally held to enhance the prestige of a host, or reinforce social bonds among joint contributors. Modern examples of these pur ...

feast
, and for her to be referred as the "Apostle of the apostles". Other Protestant churches honor her as a heroine of the faith. The Eastern Orthodox churches also commemorate her on the Sunday of the
Myrrhbearers In Orthodox Christian tradition the Myrrhbearers ( Greek: Μυροφόροι; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the ...
, the Orthodox equivalent of one of the Western
Three Marys The Three Marys or Maries are women mentioned in the canonical gospel's narratives of the crucifixion Crucifixion is a method of punishment or capital punishment in which the victim is tied or nailed to a large wooden beam and left to hang perh ...

Three Marys
traditions.


Life

It is widely accepted among secular historians that, like Jesus, Mary Magdalene was a real historical figure. Nonetheless, very little is known about her life. Unlike
Paul the Apostle Paul; el, Παῦλος, translit=Paulos; cop, ⲡⲁⲩⲗⲟⲥ; he, פאולוס השליח, name=, group= (born Saul of Tarsus;; ar, بولس الطرسوسي; el, Σαῦλος Ταρσεύς, Saũlos Tarseús; tr, Tarsuslu Pavlus AD ...
, Mary Magdalene has left behind no writings of her own. She was never mentioned in any of the
Pauline epistles The Pauline epistles, also known as Epistles of Paul or Letters of Paul, are the thirteen books of the New Testament attributed to Paul the Apostle, although the authorship of some is in dispute. Among these epistles are some of the earliest extant ...
or in any of the
general epistles The catholic epistles (also called the general epistlesEncarta-encyclopedie Winkler Prins (1993–2002) s.v. "katholieke brieven". Microsoft Corporation/Het Spectrum.) are seven epistles of the New Testament. Listed in order of their appearance in t ...
. The earliest and most reliable sources about her life are the three
Synoptic Gospels The gospel Gospel originally meant the Christian message ("the gospel#REDIRECT The gospel In Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testame ...
of
Mark Mark may refer to: Currency * Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible mark The Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible mark ( Bosnian/Croatian/ Serbian: , Bosnian/Serbian: ); sign: KM; code: BAM) is the currency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and ...
, Matthew, and Luke, which were all written during the first century AD.


During Jesus's ministry

Mary Magdalene's
epithet An epithet (, ) is a byname, or a descriptive term (word or phrase), accompanying or occurring in place of a name and having entered common usage. It has various shades of meaning when applied to seemingly real or fictitious people, divinities, ...
''Magdalene'' (ἡ Μαγδαληνή; literally "the Magdalene") most likely means that she came from
Magdala Magdala (Aramaic language, Aramaic: מגדלא, ''Magdala'', meaning "tower"; Hebrew language, Hebrew: , ''Migdal''; ar, المجدل, ''al-Majdal'') was an ancient city on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, north of Tiberias. In the Babylonian Ta ...

Magdala
, a village on the western shore of the
Sea of Galilee The Sea of Galilee ( he, יָם כִּנֶּרֶת, Judeo-Aramaic: יַמּא דטבריא, גִּנֵּיסַר, ar, بحيرة طبريا), also called Lake Tiberias, Kinneret or Kinnereth, is a freshwater Fresh water (or freshwater) is ...

Sea of Galilee
that was primarily known in antiquity as a fishing town. ''Mary'' was, by far, the most common Jewish
given name A given name (also known as a first name or forename) is the part of a personal name A personal name, or full name, in onomastic Onomastics or onomatology is the study of the etymology, history, and use of proper names. An ''wikt:ortho ...
for females during the first century, so it was necessary for the authors of the gospels to call her ''Magdalene'' in order to distinguish her from the other women named Mary who followed Jesus. Although the
Gospel of Mark The Gospel according to Mark ( el, Εὐαγγέλιον κατὰ Μᾶρκον , translit=Euangélion katà Mârkon), also called the Gospel of Mark, or simply Mark, is the second of the four Gospel#Canonical_gospels, canonical gospels and of ...
, reputed by scholars to be the earliest surviving gospel, does not mention Mary Magdalene until Jesus's crucifixion, the
Gospel of Luke The Gospel according to Luke ( el, Εὐαγγέλιον κατὰ Λουκᾶν , translit=Euangélion katà Loukân), also called the Gospel of Luke or simply Luke, tells of the origins, birth Birth is the act or process of bearing or bringi ...
provides a brief summary of her role during his ministry: The statement that Mary had been possessed by seven demons is repeated in , part of the "longer ending" of that gospel – this is not found in the earliest manuscripts, and is actually a second-century addition to the original text, possibly based on the Gospel of Luke. In the first century, demons were widely believed to be the cause of physical and psychological illness.
Bruce Chilton Bruce D. Chilton (born September 27, 1949 Roslyn, NY) is an American scholar of early Christianity The history of Christianity concerns the Christianity, Christian religion, Christendom, Christian countries, and the Christian Church, Church wit ...
, a scholar of early Christianity, states that the reference to the number of demons being "seven" may mean that Mary had to undergo ''seven exorcisms'', probably over a long period of time, due to the first six being partially or wholly unsuccessful.
Bart D. Ehrman Bart Denton Ehrman (; born October 5, 1955) is an American New Testament scholar focusing on textual criticism Textual criticism is a branch of , , and of that is concerned with the identification of textual variants, or different versions ...
, a New Testament scholar and historian of early Christianity, contends that the number seven may be merely symbolic, since, in Jewish tradition, seven was the number of completion, so the statement that Mary was possessed by seven demons may simply mean she was completely overwhelmed by their power. In either case, Mary must have suffered from severe emotional or psychological trauma in order for an exorcism of this kind to have been perceived as necessary. Consequently, her devotion to Jesus on account of this healing must have been very strong. The gospel-writers normally relish giving dramatic descriptions of Jesus's public exorcisms, with the possessed person wailing, thrashing, and tearing his or her clothes in front of a crowd. The fact that Mary's exorcism is given so little attention may indicate that it was either done in private or that it was not seen as particularly dramatic. Because Mary is listed as one of the women who were supporting Jesus's ministry financially, she must have been relatively wealthy. The places where she and the other women are mentioned throughout the gospels strongly indicate that they were vital to Jesus's ministry and the fact that Mary Magdalene always appears first, whenever she is listed in the Synoptic Gospels as a member of a group of women, indicates that she was seen as the most important out of all of them. Carla Ricci notes that, in lists of the disciples, Mary Magdalene occupies a similar position among Jesus's female followers as Simon Peter does among the male apostles. The fact that women played such an active and important role in Jesus's ministry was not entirely radical or even unique; inscriptions from a synagogue in
Aphrodisias Aphrodisias (; grc, Ἀφροδισιάς, Aphrodisiás) was a small Ancient Greece, ancient Greek Hellenistic_period, Hellenistic city in the historic Caria cultural region of western Anatolia, Turkey. It is located near the modern village of G ...

Aphrodisias
in
Asia Minor Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from 'almost' and 'island') is a landform A landform is a natural or artificial feature of ...

Asia Minor
from around the same time period reveal that many of the major donors to the synagogue were women. Jesus's ministry did bring women greater liberation than they would have typically held in mainstream Jewish society. Jesus taught that, in the imminent kingdom of God, there would be a reversal of roles and those who had been oppressed would be exalted. According to Ehrman, this idea would have probably been particularly appealing and empowering to women of the time, such as Mary Magdalene, who may have felt oppressed by traditional .


Witness to Jesus's crucifixion and burial

All four canonical gospels agree that Mary Magdalene, along with several other women, watched Jesus's crucifixion from a distance. lists the names of the women present as Mary Magdalene;
Mary, mother of James Mary, mother of James is identified in the synoptic gospels as Women at the crucifixion, one of the women who went to Jesus' tomb after he was Entombment of Christ, buried. and refer to "Mary the mother of James" as one of the women who went to th ...
; and
Salome Salome (; he, שְלוֹמִית, Shlomit, related to , "peace"; el, Σαλώμη), the daughter of Herod II Herod II (ca. 27 BC – 33/34 AD) was the son of Herod the Great Herod I (; ; grc-gre, ; c. 72 – 4 or 1 BCE), also known as ...
. lists Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James and Joseph, and the unnamed mother of the sons of
Zebedee Zebedee ( ; grc, Ζεβεδαῖος, Zebedaîos; he, , Zəḇaḏyâ), according to all four Canonical Gospels Gospel originally meant the Christianity, Christian message, but in the 2nd century it came to be used also for the books in which ...
(who may be the same person Mark calls Salome). mentioned a group of women watching the crucifixion, but did not give any of their names. lists
Mary, mother of Jesus According to the gospels of Gospel of Matthew, Matthew and Gospel of Luke, Luke in the New Testament, Mary; arc, ܡܪܝܡ, translit=Mariam; ar, مريم, translit=Maryam; el, Μαρία, translit=María; la, Maria; cop, Ⲙⲁⲣⲓ ...
, her sister, Mary, wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene as witnesses to the crucifixion. Virtually all reputable historians agree that Jesus was crucified by the Romans under the orders of
Pontius Pilate Pontius Pilate ( ; grc-gre, Πόντιος Πιλᾶτος, ) was the fifth governor of the , serving under Emperor from the year 26/27 to 36/37 AD. He is best known for being the official who presided over and later ordered . Pilate's importan ...
. James Dunn states of baptism and crucifixion that these "two facts in the life of Jesus command almost universal assent". Nonetheless, the gospels' accounts of Jesus's crucifixion differ considerably and most secular historians agree that some of the details in the accounts have been altered to fit their authors' theological agendas. Ehrman states that the presence of Mary Magdalene and the other women at the cross is probably historical because Christians would have been unlikely to make up that the main witnesses to the crucifixion were women and also because their presence is independently attested in both the Synoptic Gospels and in the
Gospel of John The Gospel according to John ( el, Εὐαγγέλιον κατὰ Ἰωάννην, translit=Euangélion katà Iōánnēn, also known as the Gospel of John, or simply John) is the fourth of the four canonical gospels. It contains a highly sc ...
.
Maurice Casey Philip Maurice Casey (18 October 1942 – 10 May 2014) was a British scholar of New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Bibl ...
concurs that the presence of Mary Magdalene and the other women at the crucifixion of Jesus may be recorded as a historical fact. According to
E. P. Sanders Ed Parish Sanders (born 18 April 1937) is an American New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Biblical canon#Christian canon ...
, the reason why the women watched the crucifixion even after the male disciples had fled may have been because they were less likely to be arrested, because they were braver than the men, or because of some combination thereof. All four canonical gospels, as well as the apocryphal
Gospel of Peter The Gospel of Peter ( el, κατά Πέτρον ευαγγέλιον, ''kata Petron euangelion''), or Gospel according to Peter, is an ancient text concerning Jesus Jesus; he, יֵשׁוּעַ, '' Yēšū́aʿ''; ar, عيسى, ʿĪsā ( 4 ...

Gospel of Peter
, agree that Jesus's body was taken down from the cross and buried by a man named
Joseph of Arimathea#REDIRECT Joseph of Arimathea Joseph of Arimathea was, according to all four canonical gospels Gospel originally meant the Christianity, Christian message, but in the 2nd century it came to be used also for the books in which the message was set ...
. lists Mary Magdalene and Mary, mother of Joses as witnesses to the burial of Jesus. lists Mary Magdalene and "the other Mary" as witnesses. mentions "the women who had followed him from Galilee", but does not list any of their names. does not mention any women present during Joseph's burial of Jesus, but does mention the presence of
Nicodemus Nicodemus (; grc-gre, Νικόδημος, Nikódēmos) was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin mentioned in three places in the Gospel of John: * He first visits Jesus one night to discuss Jesus' teachings (). * The second time Nicodemus ...

Nicodemus
, a Pharisee with whom Jesus had a conversation near the beginning of the gospel. Ehrman, who previously accepted the story of Jesus's burial as historical, now rejects it as a later invention on the basis that Roman governors almost never allowed for executed criminals to be given any kind of burial and Pontius Pilate in particular was not "the sort of ruler who would break with tradition and policy when kindly asked by a member of the Jewish council to provide a decent burial for a crucified victim."
John Dominic Crossan John Dominic Crossan (born 1934) is an Irish-American New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Biblical canon#Christian canons, ...
has controversially argued that Jesus's body was probably eaten by wild dogs. Ehrman notes that this was the most common fate for victims of crucifixion, but states that it is impossible to know for certain what actually happened to Jesus's body once it was removed from the cross. Casey argues that Jesus really was given a proper burial by Joseph of Arimathea, noting that, on some very rare occasions, Roman governors did release the bodies of executed prisoners for burial. Nonetheless, he rejects that Jesus could have been interred in an expensive tomb with a stone rolled in front of it like the one described in the gospels, leading him to conclude that Mary and the other women must not have actually seen the tomb. Sanders affirms Jesus's burial by Joseph of Arimathea in the presence of Mary Magdalene and the other female followers as completely historical.


Resurrection of Jesus

The earliest description of Jesus's post-resurrection appearances is a quotation of a pre-Pauline creed preserved by Paul the Apostle in , which was written roughly 20 years before any of the gospels. This passage made no mention of Mary Magdalene, the other women, or the story of the empty tomb at all, but rather credits Simon Peter with having been the first to see the risen Jesus. Despite this, all four canonical gospels, as well as the apocryphal Gospel of Peter, agreed that Mary Magdalene, either alone or as a member of a group, was the first person to discover that Jesus's tomb was empty. Nonetheless, the details of the accounts differ drastically. According to , the earliest account of the discovery of the empty tomb, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went to the tomb just after sunrise, a day and half after Jesus's burial and found that the stone had already been rolled away. They went inside and saw a young man dressed in white, who told them that Jesus had risen from the dead and instructed them to tell the male disciples that he would meet them in Galilee. Instead, the women ran away and told no one, because they were too afraid. The original text of the gospel ends here, without the resurrected Jesus ever actually making an appearance to anyone. Casey argues that the reason for this abrupt ending may be because the Gospel of Mark is an unfinished first draft. According to , Mary Magdalene and "the other Mary" went to the tomb. An earthquake occurred and an angel dressed in white descended from Heaven and rolled aside the stone as the women were watching. The angel told them that Jesus had risen from the dead. Then the risen Jesus himself appeared to the women as they were leaving the tomb and told them to tell the other disciples that he would meet them in Galilee. According to a group of unnamed women went to the tomb and found the stone already rolled away, as in Mark. They went inside and saw two young men dressed in white who told them that Jesus had risen from the dead. Then they went and told the eleven remaining apostles, who dismissed their story as nonsense. In Luke's account, Jesus never appears to the women, but instead makes his first appearance to
Cleopas Cleopas (Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as ...
and an unnamed "disciple" on the road to
Emmaus Emmaus (; Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately ...

Emmaus
. Luke's narrative also removes the injunction for the women to tell the disciples to return to Galilee and instead has Jesus tell the disciples ''not'' to return to Galilee, but rather to stay in the precincts of Jerusalem. Mary Magdalene's role in the resurrection narrative is greatly increased in the account from the Gospel of John. According to , Mary Magdalene went to the tomb alone when it was still dark and saw that the stone had already been rolled away. She did not see anyone, but immediately ran to tell Peter and the "
beloved disciple The phrase "the disciple whom Jesus loved" ( el, ὁ μαθητὴς ὃν ἠγάπα ὁ Ἰησοῦς, ) or, in John 20:2; "the disciple beloved of Jesus" (, ), is used six times in the Gospel of John The Gospel according to John ( el, ...
", who came with her to the tomb and confirmed that it was empty, but returned home without seeing the risen Jesus. According to , Mary, now alone in the garden outside the tomb, saw two angels sitting where Jesus's body had been. Then the risen Jesus approached her. She at first mistook him for the gardener, but, after she heard him say her name, she recognized him and cried out "Rabbouni!" (which is Aramaic for "teacher"). His next words may be translated as ", for I have not yet ascended to my Father" or "Stop clinging to me,
tc. TC, T.C., Tc, Tc, tc, tC, or .tc may refer to: Arts and entertainment Film and television * Theodore "T.C." Calvin, a character on the TV series '' Magnum, P.I.'' and its reboot * Tom Caron Tom Caron (born 1963 in Lewiston, Maine, Lewiston, Main ...
the latter more probable in view of the grammar (negated present imperative: stop doing something already in progress) as well as Jesus' challenge to Thomas a week later (see ). Jesus then sent her to tell the other apostles the good news of his resurrection. The Gospel of John therefore portrays Mary Magdalene as the first apostle, the apostle sent ''to'' the apostles. Because scribes were unsatisfied with the abrupt ending of the Gospel of Mark, they wrote several different alternative endings for it. In the " shorter ending", which is found in very few manuscripts, the women go to "those around Peter" and tell them what they had seen at the tomb, followed by a brief declaration of the gospel being preached from east to west. This "very forced" ending contradicts the last verse of the original gospel, stating that the women "told no one". The " longer ending", which is found in most surviving manuscripts, is an "amalgam of traditions" containing episodes derived from the other gospels. First, it describes an appearance by Jesus to Mary Magdalene alone (as in the Gospel of John), followed by brief descriptions of him appearing to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (as in the Gospel of Luke) and to the eleven remaining disciples (as in the Gospel of Matthew). In his book published in 2006, Ehrman states that "it appears virtually certain" that the stories of the empty tomb, regardless of whether or not they are accurate, can definitely be traced back to the historical Mary Magdalene, saying that, in Jewish society, women were regarded as unreliable witnesses and were forbidden from giving testimony in court, so early Christians would have had no motive to make up a story about a woman being the first to discover the empty tomb. In fact, if they had made the story up, they would have had strong motivation to make Peter, Jesus's closest disciple while he was alive, the discoverer of the tomb instead. He also says that the story of Mary Magdalene discovering the empty tomb is independently attested in the Synoptics, the Gospel of John, and in the Gospel of Peter.
N. T. Wright Nicholas Thomas Wright (born 1 December 1948), known as N. T. Wright or Tom Wright, is an English New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the se ...
states that "it is, frankly, impossible to imagine that he women at the tombwere inserted into the tradition after Paul's day." Casey challenges this argument, contending that the women at the tomb are not legal witnesses, but rather heroines in line with a long Jewish tradition. He contends that the story of the empty tomb was invented by either the author of the Gospel of Mark or by one of his sources, based on the historically genuine fact that the women really had been present at Jesus's crucifixion and burial. In his book published in 2014, Ehrman rejects his own previous argument, stating that the story of the empty tomb can only be a later invention because there is virtually no possibility that Jesus's body could have been placed in any kind of tomb and, if Jesus was never buried, then no one alive at the time could have said that his non-existent tomb had been found empty. He concludes that the idea that early Christians would have had "no motive" to make up the story simply "suffers from a poverty of imagination" and that they would have had all kinds of possible motives, especially since women were overrepresented in early Christian communities and women themselves would have had strong motivation to make up a story about other women being the first to find the tomb. He does conclude later, however, that Mary Magdalene must have been one of the people who had an experience in which she thought she saw the risen Jesus, citing her prominence in the gospel resurrection narratives and her absence everywhere else in the gospels as evidence.


Apocryphal early Christian writings

New Testament apocrypha writings mention Mary Magdalene. Some of these writings were cited as
scripture Religious texts, also known as scripture, scriptures, holy writ, or holy books, are the texts which various religious traditions consider to be sacred Sacred describes something that is dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of ...

scripture
by early Christians. However, they were never admitted to the
canon of the New Testament A biblical canon or canon of scripture is a set of texts (or "books") which a particular Jewish or Christian religious community regards as authoritative scripture Religious texts are texts related to a religious tradition. They differ from ...
. Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant churches generally do not view these writings as part of the Bible. In these apocryphal texts, Mary Magdalene is portrayed as a visionary and leader of the early movement whom Jesus loved more than he loved the other disciples. These texts were written long after the death of the historical Mary Magdalene. They are not regarded by bible scholars as reliable sources of information about her life. Sanders summarizes the scholarly consensus that:
"... very, very little in the apocryphal gospels could conceivably go back to the time of Jesus. They are legendary and mythological. Of all the apocryphal material, only some of the sayings in the
Gospel of Thomas The Gospel of Thomas (also known as the Coptic Gospel of Thomas) is an extra-canonical sayings gospel. It was discovered near Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in December 1945 among a group of books known as the Nag Hammadi library. Scholars speculate ...

Gospel of Thomas
are worth consideration."
Nonetheless, the texts have been frequently promoted in modern works as though they were reliable. Such works often support sensationalist statements about Jesus and Mary Magdalene's relationship.


Dialogue of the Savior

The earliest dialogue between Jesus and Mary Magdalene is probably the Dialogue of the Savior, a badly damaged Gnostic text discovered in the
Nag Hammadi library The Nag Hammadi library (also known as the " Chenoboskion Manuscripts" and the "Gnostic Gospels") is a collection of early Christian and Gnostic texts Gnosticism Gnosticism (from grc, γνωστικός, gnōstikós, , 'having knowledge') is ...
in 1945. The dialogue consists of a conversation between Jesus, Mary and two apostles -
Thomas the Apostle Thomas the Apostle ( hbo, תוֹמָאס הקדוש; grc, Θωμᾶς; cop, ⲑⲱⲙⲁⲥ; syc, ܬܐܘܡܐ ܫܠܝܚܐ ''Tʾōmā šliḥā''; Hindi: सेंट थॉमस ''Seṇṭ thômas''; Tamil language, Tamil: புனித த ...
and
Matthew the Apostle Matthew the Apostle,, shortened to ''Matti'' (whence ar, مَتَّى, Mattā), meaning "Gift of YHWH The Tetragrammaton (; ), or Tetragram, is the four-letter Hebrew language, Hebrew word (transliterated as YHWH), the name of the nat ...
. In saying 53, the ''Dialogue'' attributes to Mary three
aphorism An aphorism (from Ancient Greek, Greek ἀφορισμός: ''aphorismos'', denoting 'delimitation', 'distinction', and 'definition') is a concise, terse, laconic, or memorable expression of a general truth or principle. They are often handed do ...
s that are attributed to Jesus in the New Testament: "The wickedness of each day s sufficient Workers deserve their food. Disciples resemble their teachers." The narrator commends Mary stating "she spoke this utterance as a woman who understood everything."


''Pistis Sophia''

The ''
Pistis Sophia ''Pistis Sophia'' ( grc-koi, Πίστις Σοφία) is a Gnostic Gnosticism (from grc, γνωστικός, gnōstikós, , 'having knowledge') is a collection of religious ideas and systems which originated in the late 1st century CE among ...
'', possibly dating as early as the second century, is the best surviving of the Gnostic writings. It was discovered in the eighteenth century in a large volume containing numerous early Gnostic treatises. The document takes the form of a long dialogue in which Jesus answers his followers' questions. Of the sixty-four questions, thirty-nine are presented by a woman who is referred to as Mary or Mary Magdalene. At one point, Jesus says, "Mary, thou blessed one, whom I will perfect in all mysteries of those of the height, discourse in openness, thou, whose heart is raised to the kingdom of heaven more than all thy brethren". At another point, he tells her, "Well done, Mary. You are more blessed than all women on earth, because you will be the fullness of fullness and the completion of completion." Simon Peter, annoyed at Mary's dominance of the conversation, tells Jesus, "My master, we cannot endure this woman who gets in our way and does not let any of us speak, though she talks all the time." Mary defends herself, saying, "My master, I understand in my mind that I can come forward at any time to interpret what Pistis Sophia female deityhas said, but I am afraid of Peter, because he threatens me and hates our gender." Jesus assures her, "Any of those filled with the spirit of light will come forward to interpret what I say: no one will be able to oppose them." Mainstream Christianity maintains that God is one and says that other deities do not exist.


Gospel of Thomas

The
Gospel of Thomas The Gospel of Thomas (also known as the Coptic Gospel of Thomas) is an extra-canonical sayings gospel. It was discovered near Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in December 1945 among a group of books known as the Nag Hammadi library. Scholars speculate ...

Gospel of Thomas
, usually dated to the late first or early second century, was among the ancient texts discovered in the
Nag Hammadi library The Nag Hammadi library (also known as the " Chenoboskion Manuscripts" and the "Gnostic Gospels") is a collection of early Christian and Gnostic texts Gnosticism Gnosticism (from grc, γνωστικός, gnōstikós, , 'having knowledge') is ...
in 1945. The Gospel of Thomas consists entirely of 114 sayings attributed to Jesus. Many of these sayings are similar to ones in the canonical gospels, but others are completely unlike anything found in the New Testament. Some scholars believe that at least a few of these sayings may authentically be traced back to the historical Jesus. Two of the sayings reference a woman named "Mary", who is generally regarded as Mary Magdalene. In saying 21, Mary herself asks Jesus the perfectly innocuous question, "Whom are your disciples like?" Jesus responds, "They are like children who have settled in a field which is not theirs. When the owners of the field come, they will say, 'Let us have back our field.' They (will) undress in their presence in order to let them have back their field and to give it back to them". Following this, Jesus continues his explanation with a parable about the owner of a house and a thief, ending with the common rhetoric, "Whoever has ears to hear let him hear". Mary's mention in saying 114, however, has generated considerable controversy:


Gospel of Philip

The
Gospel of Philip The Gospel of Philip is one of the Gnostic Gospels, a text of New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Biblical canon#Christian ...
, dating from the second or third century, survives in part among the texts found in Nag Hammadi in 1945. In a manner very similar to , the Gospel of Philip presents Mary Magdalene among Jesus' female entourage, adding that she was his ''koinônos'', a Greek word variously translated in contemporary versions as partner, associate, comrade, companion: The Gospel of Philip uses cognates of ''koinônos'' and Coptic equivalents to refer to the literal pairing of men and women in marriage and sexual intercourse, but also metaphorically, referring to a spiritual partnership, and the reunification of the Gnostic Christian with the divine realm. The Gospel of Philip also contains another passage relating to Jesus's relationship with Mary Magdalene. The text is badly fragmented, and speculated but unreliable additions are shown in brackets: For early Christians, kissing did not have a romantic connotation and it was common for Christians to kiss their fellow believers as a way of greeting. This tradition is still practiced in many Christian congregations today and is known as the "
kiss of peaceImage:Alonzo_Rodriguez_Commiato_dei_santi_Pietro_e_Paolo_Messina_Museo_Regionale.jpg, ''Farewell of Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, Saints Peter and Paul'', showing the Apostles giving each other the holy kiss before their martyrdom. (Alonzo Rodrigue ...
". Ehrman explains that, in the context of the Gospel of Philip, the kiss of peace is used as a symbol for the passage of truth from one person to another and that it is not in any way an act of "divine foreplay".


Gospel of Mary

The Gospel of Mary is the only surviving apocryphal text named after a woman. It contains information about the role of women in the early church. The text was probably written over a century after the historical Mary Magdalene's death. The text is not attributed to her and its author is anonymous. Instead, it received its title because it is ''about'' her. The main surviving text comes from a Coptic translation preserved in a fifth-century manuscript (''Berolinensis Gnosticus'' 8052,1) discovered in
Cairo Cairo ( ; ar, القاهرة, al-Qāhirah, , Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a Northern Afro-Asiatic language spoken in E ...

Cairo
in 1896. As a result of numerous intervening conflicts, the manuscript was not published until 1955. Roughly half the text of the gospel in this manuscript has been
lost Lost may refer to getting lost Getting lost is the occurrence of a person or animal losing spatial reference. This situation consists of two elements: the feeling of disorientation and a spatial component. While ''getting lost'', ''being lost'' or ...
; the first six pages and four from the middle are missing. In addition to this Coptic translation, two brief third-century fragments of the gospel in the original Greek ( P. Rylands 463 and P. Oxyrhynchus 3525) have also been discovered, which were published in 1938 and 1983 respectively. The first part of the gospel deals with Jesus's parting words to his followers after a post-resurrection appearance. Mary first appears in the second part, in which she tells the other disciples, who are all in fright for their own lives: "Do not weep or grieve or be in doubt, for his grace will be with you all and will protect you. Rather, let us praise his greatness, for he has prepared us and made us truly human." Unlike in the Gospel of Thomas, where women can only be saved by becoming men, in the Gospel of Mary, they can be saved just as they are. Peter approaches Mary and asks her: Mary then proceeds to describe the Gnostic cosmology in depth, revealing that she is the only one who has understood Jesus's true teachings.
Andrew the Apostle Andrew the Apostle ( gr, Ἀνδρέας ''Andreas''; Aramaic Aramaic (: ''Arāmāyā''; : ; : ; ) is a language that originated among the in the ancient , at the end of the , and later became one of the most prominent languages of t ...

Andrew the Apostle
challenges Mary, insisting, "Say what you think about what she said, but I do not believe the savior said this. These teachings are strange ideas." Peter responds, saying, "Did he really speak with a woman in private, without our knowledge? Should we all listen to her? Did he prefer her to us?" Andrew and Peter's responses are intended to demonstrate that they do not understand Jesus's teachings and that it is really only Mary who truly understands. Matthew the Apostle comes to Mary's defense, giving a sharp rebuke to Peter: "Peter, you are always angry. Now I see you arguing against this woman like an adversary. If the savior made her worthy, who are you to reject her? Surely the savior knows her well. That is why he loved her more than us."


Borborite scriptures

The
Borborites According to the ''Panarion In early Christian The history of Christianity concerns the Christianity, Christian religion, Christendom, Christian countries, and the Christian Church, Church with its various Christian denomination, denomination ...
, also known as the Phibionites, were an early Christian
Gnostic Gnosticism (from grc, γνωστικός, gnōstikós, , 'having knowledge') is a collection of religious ideas and systems which coalesced in the late 1st century AD among Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2ISO The I ...
sect during the late fourth century who had numerous scriptures involving Mary Magdalene, including ''The Questions of Mary'', ''The Greater Questions of Mary'', ''The Lesser Questions of Mary'', and ''The Birth of Mary''. None of these texts have survived to the present, but they are mentioned by the early Christian heretic-hunter
Epiphanius of Salamis Epiphanius of Salamis ( grc-gre, Ἐπιφάνιος; c. 310–320 – 403) was the bishop of at the end of the . He is considered a and a by both the and es. He gained a reputation as a strong defender of . He is best known for composing th ...
in his ''
Panarion In early Christian The history of Christianity concerns the Christianity, Christian religion, Christendom, Christian countries, and the Christian Church, Church with its various Christian denomination, denominations, from the Christianity in ...
''. Epiphanius says that the ''Greater Questions of Mary'' contained an episode in which, during a post-resurrection appearance, Jesus took Mary to the top of a mountain, where he pulled a woman out of his side and engaged in sexual intercourse with her. Then, upon
ejaculating Ejaculation is the discharge of semen (normally containing sperm) from the Male reproductive system, male reproductory tract as a result of an orgasm. It is the final stage and natural objective of male sexual stimulation, and an essential comp ...

ejaculating
, Jesus drank his own semen and told Mary, "Thus we must do, that we may live." Upon hearing this, Mary instantly fainted, to which Jesus responded by helping her up and telling her, "O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" This story was supposedly the basis for the Borborite
Eucharist The Eucharist (; grc-gre, εὐχαριστία, eucharistía, thanksgiving) also known as Holy Communion and the Lord's Supper, among other names, is a Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monothe ...

Eucharist
ritual in which they allegedly engaged in orgies and drank semen and menstrual blood as the "body and blood of Christ" respectively. Ehrman casts doubt on the accuracy of Epiphanius's summary, commenting that "the details of Epiphanius's description sound very much like what you can find in the ancient rumor mill about secret societies in the ancient world".


Legacy


Patristic era

Most of the earliest
Church Fathers The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were ancient and influential Christian theologians Christian theology is the theology Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the Divinity, di ...
do not mention Mary Magdalene at all, and those who do mention her usually only discuss her very briefly. In his anti-Christian polemic ''
The True Word ''The True Word'' (or ''Discourse'', ''Account'', or ''Doctrine''; grc-gre, Λόγος Ἀληθής, ''Logos Alēthēs'') is a lost treatise in which the ancient Greek philosopher Ancient Greek philosophy arose in the 6th century BC, at a time w ...
'', written between 170 and 180, the pagan philosopher
Celsus Celsus (; grc-x-hellen, Κέλσος, ''Kélsos''; ''fl.'' 175–177 CE) was a 2nd-century Ancient Greek philosophy, Greek philosopher and Criticism of Christianity, opponent of early Christianity. His literary work, ''The True Word'' (al ...
declared that Mary Magdalene was nothing more than "a hysterical female... who either dreamt in a certain state of mind and through wishful thinking had a hallucination due to some mistaken notion (an experience which has happened to thousands), or, which is more likely, wanted to impress others by telling this fantastic tale, and so by this cock-and-bull story to provide a chance for other beggars." The Church Father
Origen Origen of Alexandria, ''Ōrigénēs''; Coptic language, Coptic: Ϩⲱⲣⲓⲕⲉⲛ Origen's Greek name ''Ōrigénēs'' () probably means "child of Horus" (from , "Horus", and , "born"). ( 184 – 253), also known as Origen Adamantius, was an ...

Origen
( 184 – 253) defended Christianity against this accusation in his apologetic treatise '' Against Celsus'', mentioning , which lists Mary Magdalene and "the other Mary" both seeing the resurrected Jesus, thus providing a second witness. Origen also preserves a statement from Celsus that some Christians in his day followed the teachings of a woman named "Mariamme", who is almost certainly Mary Magdalene. Origen merely dismisses this, remarking that Celsus "pours on us a heap of names". Mary Magdalene has the reputation in
Western Christianity Western Christianity is one of two sub-divisions of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings ...
as being a repentant prostitute or loose woman; however, these statements are not supported by the canonical gospels, which at no point imply that she had ever been a prostitute or in any way notable for a sinful way of life. The misconception likely arose due to a conflation between Mary Magdalene,
Mary of Bethany Mary of Bethany is a Bible, biblical figure mentioned only by name in the Gospel of John in the Christianity, Christian New Testament. Together with her siblings Lazarus of Bethany, Lazarus and Martha, she is described by John as living in the vill ...
(who anoints Jesus's feet in ), and the unnamed "sinful woman" who anoints Jesus's feet in . As early as the third century, the Church Father
Tertullian Tertullian (; la, Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus; 155 AD – 220 AD) was a prolific early Christian The history of Christianity concerns the Christian religion Christianity is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religio ...

Tertullian
( 160 – 225) references the touch of "the woman which was a sinner" in effort to prove that Jesus "was not a phantom, but really a solid body." This may indicate that Mary Magdalene was already being conflated with the "sinful woman" in , though Tertullian never clearly identifies the woman of whom he speaks as Mary Magdalene. A sermon attributed to
Hippolytus of Rome Hippolytus of Rome (c. 170 – c. 235 AD) was one of the most important second-third century Christian theologians, whose provenance, identity and corpus remain elusive to scholars and historians. Suggested communities include Palestine, Egypt, A ...
( 170 – 235) refers to Mary of Bethany and her sister
Martha Martha (Hebrew language, Hebrew: מַרְתָּא) is a Bible, biblical figure described in the Gospels of Gospel of Luke, Luke and Gospel of John, John. Together with her siblings Lazarus of Bethany, Lazarus and Mary of Bethany, she is described ...

Martha
seeking Jesus in the garden like Mary Magdalene in , indicating a conflation between Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalene. The sermon describes the conflated woman as a "second
Eve Eve (; ; ar, حَوَّاء, Ḥawwāʾ; el, Εὕα, Heúa; la, Eva, Heva; : romanized: ) is a figure in the in the . According to the origin story, "Creation myths are symbolic stories describing how the universe and its inhabitants came ...

Eve
" who compensates for the disobedience of the first Eve through her obedience. The sermon also explicitly identifies Mary Magdalene and the other women as "apostles". The first clear identification of Mary Magdalene as a redeemed sinner comes from
Ephrem the Syrian Ephrem the Syrian ( syc, ܡܪܝ ܐܦܪܝܡ ܣܘܪܝܝܐ, Mār ʾAp̄rêm Sūryāyā, ; grc-koi, Ἐφραὶμ ὁ Σῦρος, Efrém o Sýros; la, Ephraem Syrus; ), also known as Saint Ephrem, Ephrem of Edessa or Aprem of Nisibis, was a pr ...
( 306 – 373). Part of the reason for the identification of Mary Magdalene as a sinner may derive from the reputation of her birthplace, Magdala, which, by the late first century, was infamous for its inhabitants' alleged vice and licentiousness. In one of his preserved sayings,
Gregory of Nyssa Gregory of Nyssa, also known as Gregory Nyssen ( grc-gre, Γρηγόριος Νύσσης; c. 335 – c. 395), was bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is gener ...

Gregory of Nyssa
( 330 – 395) identifies Mary Magdalene as "the first witness to the resurrection, that she might set straight again by her faith in the resurrection, what was turned over in her transgression."
Ambrose Ambrose of Milan (born Aurelius Ambrosius; c. 340 – 397), venerated as Saint Ambrose, ; lmo, Sant Ambroeus . was the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milan, Bishop of Milan, a theologian, and one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures o ...

Ambrose
( 340 – 397), by contrast, not only rejected the conflation of Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany, and the anointing sinner, but even proposed that the authentic Mary Magdalene herself was, in fact, two separate people: one woman named Mary Magdalene who discovered the empty tomb and a different Mary Magdalene who saw the risen Christ.
Augustine of Hippo Augustine of Hippo (; la, Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis; 13 November 354 – 28 August 430), also known as Saint Augustine, was a theologian and philosopher of Berber Berber or Berbers may refer to: Culture * Berbers Berbers or ''Im ...

Augustine of Hippo
(354 – 430) entertained the possibility that Mary of Bethany and the unnamed sinner from Luke might be the same person, but did not associate Mary Magdalene with either of them. Instead, Augustine praised Mary Magdalene as "unquestionably... surpassingly more ardent in her love than these other women who had administered to the Lord".


Early Middle Ages

The unnamed "sinful woman" in is never identified as a prostitute and, in Jewish society at the time the gospel was written, "sinful" could have simply meant that she "did not assiduously observe the
law of Moses The Law of Moses ( he, תֹּורַת מֹשֶׁה ), also called the Mosaic Law, primarily refers to the Torah The Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") includes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible ...
". The notion of Mary Magdalene specifically being a former prostitute or loose woman dates to a narrative by
Pope Gregory I Pope Gregory I ( la, Gregorius I; – 12 March 604), commonly known as Saint Gregory the Great, was the bishop of Rome A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally ent ...

Pope Gregory I
("Gregory the Great") made in an influential
homily A homily (from Greek ὁμιλία, ''homilía'') is a commentary that follows a reading of scripture, giving the "public explanation of a sacred doctrine" or text. The works of and (known as ) are considered exemplary examples of Christian homil ...

homily
in around 591, in which he not only identifies Magdalene with the anonymous sinner with the perfume in Luke's gospel and with Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, but also, for the first time, explicitly identifies her sins as ones of a sexual nature: In Pope Gregory's interpretation, the seven demons expelled from Mary Magdalene by Jesus are transformed into the
seven deadly sins The seven deadly sins, also known as the capital vices or cardinal sins, is a grouping and classification of vices within Christian teachings, although they are not mentioned in the Bible. Behaviours or habits are classified under this cat ...
of medieval Catholicism, leading Mary "to be condemned not only for lust, but for pride and covetousness as well." The aspect of the repentant sinner became almost equally significant as the disciple in her ''persona'' as depicted in Western art and religious literature, fitting well with the great importance of
penitence Penance is Repentance (theology), repentance of Christian views on sin, sins as well as an alternate name for the Catholic Church, Catholic, Lutheran, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession. It also pla ...

penitence
in medieval theology. In subsequent religious legend, Mary's story became conflated with that of
Mary of Egypt Mary of Egypt ( cop, Ϯⲁⲅⲓⲁ Ⲙⲁⲣⲓⲁ Ⲛⲣⲉⲙⲛ̀ⲭⲏⲙⲓ; c. 344 – c. 421) is a highly venerated Desert Mothers, Desert Mother in the Orthodox Church, Orthodox and Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, Coptic Churches, as ...

Mary of Egypt
, a repentant prostitute who then lived as a hermit. With that, Mary's image was, according to Susan Haskins, author of ''Mary Magdalene: Myth and Metaphor,'' "finally settled...for nearly fourteen hundred years," although in fact the most important late medieval popular accounts of her life describe her as a rich woman whose life of sexual freedom is purely for pleasure. This composite depiction of Mary Magdalene was carried into the Mass texts for her feast day: in the
Tridentine Mass The Tridentine Mass, also known as the Traditional Latin Mass or Traditional Rite, is the Roman Rite Mass (liturgy), Mass of the Catholic Church which appears in Editio typica, typical editions of the Roman Missal published from 1570 to 1962. Cel ...

Tridentine Mass
, the
collect The collect ( ) is a short general prayer of a particular structure used in Christian liturgy. Collects appear in the liturgies of Roman Catholic, Orthodoxy, Orthodox, Anglican, Methodism, Methodist, Lutheran, and Presbyterian churches, among othe ...
explicitly identifies her as Mary of Bethany by describing Lazarus as her brother, and the Gospel is the story of the penitent woman anointing Jesus' feet. The "composite Magdalene" was never accepted by the
Eastern Orthodox The Eastern Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 220 million baptised members. It operates as a communion Communion may refer to: Religion * The Eucharist (also cal ...
churches, who saw only Mary the disciple, and believed that after the Resurrection she lived as a companion to Mary the mother of Jesus, and not even in the West was it universally accepted. The
Benedictine The Benedictines, officially the Order of Saint Benedict ( la, Ordo Sancti Benedicti, abbreviated as OSB), are a Christian monasticism, monastic Religious order (Catholic), religious order of the Catholic Church following the Rule of Saint Be ...
Order always celebrated Mary of Bethany together with Martha and Lazarus of Bethany on July 29, while Mary Magdalene was celebrated on July 22. Not only John Chrysostom in the East (''Matthew, Homily 88''), but also Ambrose (''De virginitate'' 3,14; 4,15) in the West, when speaking of Mary Magdalene after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, far from calling her a harlot, suggest she was a virgin. Starting in around the eighth century, Christian sources record mention of a church in Magdala purported to have been built on the site of Mary Magdalene's house, where Jesus exorcized her of the seven demons. In an eastern tradition supported by the western bishop and historian
Gregory of Tours Gregory of Tours (30 November 538 – 17 November 594 AD) was a Gallo-Roman The term "Gallo-Roman" describes the Romanization (cultural), Romanized culture of Gaul under the rule of the Roman Empire. This was characterized by the Gaulish ...
( 538 – 594), Mary Magdalene is said to have retired to
Ephesus Ephesus (; gr, Ἔφεσος, Éphesos; tr, Efes; may ultimately derive from hit, 𒀀𒉺𒊭, Apaša) was a city in ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of History of Gree ...

Ephesus
in
Asia Minor Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from 'almost' and 'island') is a landform A landform is a natural or artificial feature of ...

Asia Minor
with Mary the mother of Jesus, where they both lived out the rests of their lives. Gregory states that Mary Magdalene was buried in the city of Ephesus.
ModestusModestus may refer to: * Sts. Vitus, Modestus, and Crescentia for Saint Modestus, legendary educator of St. Vitus, martyr under Diocletian (c. 304) * Modestus (Apostle of Carantania) (720s–8th-century), early Christian writer mentioned by Eusebius ...
, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Patriarch of Jerusalem from 630 until 634, describes a slightly different tradition that Mary Magdalene had come to Ephesus to live with the apostle John following the death of Mary the mother of Jesus.


High Middle Ages


Fictional biographies

Starting in early High Middle Ages, writers in western Europe began developing elaborate fictional biographies of Mary Magdalene's life, in which they heavily embellished upon the vague details given in the gospels. Stories about nobility, noble saints were popular during this time period; accordingly, tales of Mary Magdalene's wealth and social status became heavily exaggerated. In the tenth century, Odo of Cluny ( 880 – 942) wrote a sermon in which he described Mary as an extraordinarily wealthy noblewoman of royal descent. Some manuscripts of the sermon record that Mary's parents were named Syrus and Eucharia and one manuscript goes into great detail describing her family's purported land holdings in Bethany, Jerusalem, and Magdala. The theologian Honorius Augustodunensis ( 1080 – 1151) embellished this tale even further, reporting that Mary was a wealthy noblewoman who was married in "Magdalum", but that she committed adultery, so she fled to Jerusalem and became a "public sinner" (''vulgaris meretrix''). Honorius mentions that, out of love for Jesus, Mary repented and withdrew into a life of quiet isolation. Under the influence of stories about other female saints, such as
Mary of Egypt Mary of Egypt ( cop, Ϯⲁⲅⲓⲁ Ⲙⲁⲣⲓⲁ Ⲛⲣⲉⲙⲛ̀ⲭⲏⲙⲓ; c. 344 – c. 421) is a highly venerated Desert Mothers, Desert Mother in the Orthodox Church, Orthodox and Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, Coptic Churches, as ...

Mary of Egypt
and Pelagia, painters in Italy during the ninth and tenth centuries gradually began to develop the image of Mary Magdalene living alone in the desert as a penitent Asceticism, ascetic. This portrayal became so popular that it quickly spread to Germany and England. From the twelfth century, Abbot Hugh of Semur (died 1109), Peter Abelard (died 1142), and Geoffrey of Vendome (died 1132) all referred to Mary Magdalene as the sinner who merited the title ''apostolorum apostola'' (Apostle to the Apostles), with the title becoming commonplace during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.


Alleged burial in France

In western Europe, elaborate and conflicting legends began to develop, which said that Mary Magdalene had travelled to southern France and died there. Starting in around 1050, the monks of the Abbey of la Madaleine, Vézelay in Burgundy said they discovered Mary Magdalene's actual skeleton. At first, the existence of the skeleton was merely asserted, but, in 1265, the monks made a spectacular, public show of "discovering" it and, in 1267, the bones were brought before the king of France himself, who venerated them. On December 9, 1279, an excavation ordered by Charles II of Naples, Charles II, King of Naples at Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume, Provence, led to the discovery of another purported burial of Mary Magdalene. The shrine was purportedly found intact, with an explanatory inscription stating why the relics had been hidden. Charles II commissioned the building of a new Gothic architecture, Gothic basilica on the site and, in return for providing accommodation for pilgrims, the town's residents were exempt from taxes. Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume gradually displaced Vézelay in popularity and acceptance.


The Golden Legend

The most famous account of Mary Magdalene's legendary life comes from ''Golden Legend, The Golden Legend'', a collection of medieval saints stories compiled in around the year 1260 by the Italian writer and Dominican Order, Dominican friar Jacobus de Voragine ( 1230 – 1298). In this account, Mary Magdalene is, in Ehrman's words, "fabulously rich, insanely beautiful, and outrageously sensual", but she gives up her life of wealth and sin to become a devoted follower of Jesus. Fourteen years after Jesus's crucifixion, some pagans throw Mary, Martha, Lazarus (who, in this account, is their brother due to a conflation with Mary of Bethany), and two other Christians named Maximinus of Aix, Maximin and Cedonius onto a rudderless boat in the Mediterranean Sea to die. Miraculously, however, the boat washes ashore at Marseille in southern France. Mary persuades the governor of the city not to offer sacrifices to a pagan god and later persuades him to convert to Christianity after she proves the Christian God's power by successfully praying to Him to make the governor's wife pregnant. The governor and his wife sail for Rome to meet the apostle Peter in person, but their ship is struck by a storm, which causes the wife to go into labor. The wife dies in childbirth and the governor leaves her on an island with the still-living infant at her breast. The governor spends two years with Peter in Rome and, on his way home, he stops at the same island to discover that, due to Mary Magdalene's miraculous long-distance intercession, his child has survived for two years on his dead mother's breast milk. Then the governor's wife rises from the dead and tells him that Mary Magdalene has brought her back. The whole family returns to Marseille, where they meet Mary again in person. Mary herself spends the last thirty years of her life alone as a penitent ascetic in a cave in a desert in the French region of Provence. At every canonical hours, canonical hour, the angels come and lift her up to hear their songs in Heaven. On the last day of her life, Maximin, now the bishop of Aix-en-Provence, Aix, comes to her and gives her the Eucharist. Mary cries tears of joy and, after taking it, she lies down and dies. De Voragine gives the common account of the transfer of Mary Magdalene's relics from her sepulchre in the Oratory (worship), oratory of Saint Maximin at Aix-en-Provence to the newly founded Vézelay; the transportation of the relics is entered as undertaken in 771 by the founder of the abbey, identified as Gerard, Duke of Burgundy.''Golden Legend''


Spouse of John the Evangelist

The monk and historian Domenico Cavalca ( 1270 – 1342), citing Jerome, suggested that Mary Magdalene was Engagement, betrothed to John the Evangelist: "I like to think that the Magdalene was the spouse of John, not affirming it... I am glad and blythe that St Jerome should say so". They were sometimes thought to be the couple at the Wedding at Cana, though the Gospel accounts say nothing of the ceremony being abandoned. In the ''Golden Legend'', De Voragine dismisses talk of John and Mary being betrothed and John leaving his bride at the altar to follow Jesus as nonsense.


Late Middle Ages and Renaissance

The thirteenth-century Cistercian monk and chronicler Peter of Vaux de Cernay said it was part of Catharism, Catharist belief that the earthly Jesus Christ had a relationship with Mary Magdalene, described as his concubinage, concubine: "Further, in their secret meetings they said that the Christ who was born in the earthly and visible Bethlehem and crucified at Jerusalem was "evil", and that Mary Magdalene was his concubine – and that she was the woman taken in adultery who is referred to in the Scriptures." A document, possibly written by Ermengaud of Béziers, undated and anonymous and attached to his ''Treatise against Heretics'', makes a similar statement: In the middle of the fourteenth century, a Dominican friar wrote a biography of Mary Magdalene in which he described her brutally mutilating herself after giving up prostitution, clawing at her legs until they bled, tearing out clumps of her hair, and beating her face with her fists and her breasts with stones. This portrayal of her inspired the sculptor Donatello ( 1386 – 1466) to portray her as a gaunt and beaten ascetic in his wooden sculpture ''Penitent Magdalene (Donatello), Penitent Magdalene'' ( 1454) for the Florence Baptistery. In 1449, René of Anjou, King René d'Anjou gave to Angers Cathedral the amphora from Cana in which Jesus changed water to wine, acquiring it from the nuns of Marseilles, who told him that Mary Magdalene had brought it with her from Judea, relating to the legend where she was the jilted bride at the wedding after which John the Evangelist received his calling from Jesus.


Reformation and Counter-Reformation

In 1517, on the brink of the Protestant Reformation, the leading French Renaissance humanist Jacques Lefèvre d'Étaples published his book ''De Maria Magdalena et triduo Christi disceptatio'' (''Disputation on Mary Magdalene and the Three Days of Christ''), in which he argued against the conflation of Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany, and the unnamed sinner in Luke.Hufstader, 32–40, and throughout the rest of the article Various authors published a flurry of books and pamphlets in response, the vast majority of which opposed Lefèvre d'Étaples. In 1521, the theology faculty of the Sorbonne formally condemned the idea that the three women were separate people as heretical, and debate died down, overtaken by the larger issues raised by Martin Luther. Luther and Huldrych Zwingli (1484 – 1531) both supported the composite Magdalene.Henderson (2004), pp. 8–14 Luther, whose views on sexuality were much more liberal than those of his fellow reformers, reportedly once joked to a group of friends that "even pious Christ himself" had committed adultery three times: once with Mary Magdalene, once with the Samaritan woman at the well, and once with Jesus and the woman taken in adultery, the adulteress he had let off so easily. Because the cult of Mary Magdalene was inextricably associated with the Catholic teaching of the intercession of saints, it came under particularly harsh criticism by Protestant leaders. Zwingli demanded for the cult of Mary Magdalene to be abolished and all images of her to be destroyed. John Calvin (1509 – 1564) not only rejected the composite Magdalene, but criticized Catholics as ignorant for having ever believed in it. During the
Counter-Reformation The Counter-Reformation (), also called the Catholic Reformation () or the Catholic Revival, was the period of Catholic Church, Catholic resurgence that was initiated in response to the Protestant Reformation, also known as the Protestant Revol ...
, Roman Catholicism began to strongly emphasize Mary Magdalene's role as a penitent sinner. Her medieval role as a patron and advocate became minimized and her penitence became regarded as her most important aspect, especially in France and in the Catholic portions of southern Germany. A massive number of Baroque paintings and sculptures depict the penitent Magdalene, often showing her naked or partially naked, with a strong emphasis on her erotic beauty. Poems about Mary Magdalene's repentance were also popular. Estates of nobles and royalty in southern Germany were equipped with so-called "Magdalene cells", small, modest Hermitage (religious retreat), hermitages that functioned as both chapels and dwellings, where the nobility could retreat to find religious solace. They were usually located away in wild areas away from the rest of the property and their exteriors were designed to suggest vulnerability.


Modern era

Because of the legends saying that Mary Magdalene had been a prostitute, she became the patroness of "wayward women", and, in the eighteenth century, moral reformers established Magdalene asylums to help save women from prostitution. Edgar Saltus's historical fiction novel ''Mary Magdalene: A Chronicle'' (1891) depicts her as a heroine living in a castle at Magdala, who moves to Rome becoming the "toast of the tetrarchy", telling John the Baptist she will "drink pearls... sup on peacock's tongues". St Peter Julian Eymard calls her “the patroness and model of a life spent in the adoration and service of Jesus in the sacrament of His Love.” The common identification of Mary Magdalene with other New Testament figures was omitted in the Mysterii Paschalis, 1969 revision of the
General Roman Calendar The General Roman Calendar is the liturgical Liturgy is the customary public worship Worship is an act of religion, religious wikt:devotion, devotion usually directed towards a deity. For many, worship is not about an emotion, it is mor ...
, with the comment regarding her liturgy, liturgical celebration on July 22: "No change has been made in the title of today's memorial (liturgy), memorial, but it concerns only Saint Mary Magdalene, to whom Christ appeared after his resurrection. It is not about the sister of Saint Martha, nor about the sinful woman whose sins the Lord forgave." Elsewhere it said of the Roman liturgy of July 22 that "it will make mention neither of Mary of Bethany nor of the sinful woman of Luke 7:36–50, but only of Mary Magdalene, the first person to whom Christ appeared after his resurrection". According to historian Michael Haag, these changes were a quiet admission from the Vatican that the Church's previous teaching of Mary Magdalene as a repentant whore had been wrong. Mary of Bethany's feast day and that of her brother Lazarus is now on July 29, the memorial of their sister Martha. Nonetheless, despite the Vatican's rejection of it, the view of Mary as a repentant prostitute only grew more prevalent in popular culture. She is portrayed as one in Nikos Kazantzakis's 1955 novel ''The Last Temptation of Christ (novel), The Last Temptation of Christ'' and Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ (film), 1988 film adaptation of it, in which Jesus, as he is dying on the cross, has a vision from Satan of what it would be like if he married Mary Magdalene and raised a family with her instead of dying for humanity's sins. Mary is likewise portrayed as a reformed prostitute in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's 1971 rock opera ''Jesus Christ Superstar''. In ''Superstar'', Mary describes her sexual attraction to Jesus in the song "I Don't Know How to Love Him", which shocked many of the play's original viewers. Ki Longfellow's novel ''The Secret Magdalene'' (2005) draws on the Gnostic gospels and other sources to portray Mary as a brilliant and dynamic woman who studies at the fabled library of Alexandria, and shares her knowledge with Jesus. Lady Gaga's song "Judas (Lady Gaga song), Judas" (2011) is sung from Mary's perspective, portraying her as a prostitute who is "beyond repentance". The 2018 film ''Mary Magdalene (2018 film), Mary Magdalene'', starring Rooney Mara as the eponymous character, sought to reverse the centuries-old portrayal of Mary Magdalene as a repentant prostitute, while also combating the conspiracy statements of her being Jesus's wife or sexual partner. Instead, the film portrays her as Jesus's closest disciple and the only one who truly understands his teachings. This portrayal is partially based on the Gnostic ''Gospel of Mary Magdalene''. The film, which described as having a "strongly feminist bent", was praised for its music score and cinematography, its surprising faithfulness to the Biblical narrative, and its acting, but was criticized as slow-moving, overwritten, and too solemn to be believable. It was also criticized by many Christians, who were offended by the film's use of extracanonical source material.


In Western art

The early notion of Mary Magdalene as a sinner and adulteress was reflected in Western medieval Christian art, where she was the most commonly depicted female figure after the Virgin Mary. She may be shown either as very extravagantly and fashionably dressed, unlike other female figures wearing contemporary styles of clothes, or alternatively as completely naked but covered by very long blonde or reddish-blonde hair. The latter depictions represent the ''Penitent Magdalene (disambiguation), Penitent Magdalene'', according to the medieval legend that she had spent a period of repentance as a desert hermit after leaving her life as a follower of Jesus. Her story became conflated in the West with that of
Mary of Egypt Mary of Egypt ( cop, Ϯⲁⲅⲓⲁ Ⲙⲁⲣⲓⲁ Ⲛⲣⲉⲙⲛ̀ⲭⲏⲙⲓ; c. 344 – c. 421) is a highly venerated Desert Mothers, Desert Mother in the Orthodox Church, Orthodox and Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, Coptic Churches, as ...

Mary of Egypt
, a fourth-century prostitute turned hermit, whose clothes wore out and fell off in the desert. The widespread artistic representations of Mary Magdalene in tears are the source of the modern English word ''maudlin'', meaning "sickeningly sentimental or emotional". In medieval depictions Mary's long hair entirely covers her body and preserves her modesty (supplemented in some German versions such as one by Tilman Riemenschneider by Feather tights#Mary Magdalene's hair suit, thick body hair), but, from the sixteenth century, some depictions, like those by Titian, show part of her naked body, the amount of nudity tending to increase in successive periods. Even if covered, she often wears only a drape pulled around her, or an undergarment. In particular, Mary is often shown naked in the legendary scene of her "Elevation", where she is sustained in the desert by angels who raise her up and feed her heavenly manna, as recounted in the ''Golden Legend''. Mary Magdalene at the foot of the cross during the Crucifixion appears in an eleventh-century English manuscript "as an expressional device rather than a historical motif", intended as "the expression of an emotional assimilation of the event, that leads the spectator to identify himself with the mourners". Other isolated depictions occur, but, from the thirteenth century, additions to the Virgin Mary and John the Apostle, John as the spectators at the Crucifixion become more common, with Mary Magdalene as the most frequently found, either kneeling at the foot of the cross clutching the shaft, sometimes kissing Christ's feet, or standing, usually at the left and behind Mary and John, with her arms stretched upwards towards Christ in a gesture of grief, as in a damaged painting by Cimabue in the Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi, upper church at Assisi of 1290. A kneeling Magdalene by Giotto in the Scrovegni Chapel ( 1305) was especially influential. As Gothic painted crucifixions became crowded compositions, the Magdalene became a prominent figure, with a halo and identifiable by her long unbound blonde hair, and usually a bright red dress. As the swooning Virgin Mary became more common, generally occupying the attention of John, the unrestrained gestures of Magdalene increasingly represented the main display of the grief of the spectators. According to Robert Kiely, "No figure in the Christian Pantheon except Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and John the Baptist has inspired, provoked, or confounded the imagination of painters more than the Magdalene". Apart from the Crucifixion, Mary was often shown in scenes of the Passion of Jesus, when mentioned in the Gospels, such as the Crucifixion, Christ Carrying the Cross and Noli me Tangere, but usually omitted in other scenes showing the Twelve Apostles, such as the Last Supper. As Mary of Bethany, she is shown as present at the Resurrection of Lazarus, her brother, and in the Jesus at the home of Martha and Mary, scene with Jesus and her sister
Martha Martha (Hebrew language, Hebrew: מַרְתָּא) is a Bible, biblical figure described in the Gospels of Gospel of Luke, Luke and Gospel of John, John. Together with her siblings Lazarus of Bethany, Lazarus and Mary of Bethany, she is described ...

Martha
, which began to be depicted often in the seventeenth century, as in ''Christ in the House of Martha and Mary (Velázquez), Christ in the House of Martha and Mary'' by Velázquez. Gallery File:Noli me tangere, fresco by Fra Angelico.jpg, ''Noli me tangere'' fresco by Fra Angelico File:Mary Magdalene (Piero di Cosimo).jpg, ''Mary Magdalene Reading'' ( 1500–1510) by Piero di Cosimo File:Tizian 050.jpg, ''Noli me tangere (Titian), Noli me tangere'' ( 1512) by Titian File:Ambrosius Benson - Mary Magdalene - WGA1890.jpg, ''Mary Magdalene'' (early 1500s) by Ambrosius Benson File:Giampietrino Magdalena penitente Hermitage.jpg, ''Magdalena Penitente'' (early 1500s) by Giampietrino File:Maino Magdalena penitente 1615 col par Ginebra.jpg, ''Mary Magdalene'' (1615) by Juan Bautista Maíno File:El Greco - The Penitent Magdalene - Google Art Project.jpg, ''Penitent Magdalene (El Greco), Penitent Magdalene'' ( 1576–1578) by El Greco File:Artemisia Gentileschi Mary Magdalene Pitti.jpg, ''Mary Magdalene'' (1615–1616 or 1620–1625) by Artemisia Gentileschi File:Lille Pdba rubens marie madeleine.JPG, ''St Mary Magdalene in Ecstasy'' ( 1619–1620) by Peter Paul Rubens File:José de Ribera 024.jpg, ''Mary Magdalene'' (1641) by José de Ribera File:Georges de La Tour - Magdalen of Night Light - WGA12337.jpg, ''Magdalene with the Smoking Flame'' ( 1640) by Georges de La Tour File:Pietro da Cortona - Cristo appare a Maria Maddalena.jpg, ''Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalene'' (between 1640 and 1650) by Pietro da Cortona File:George Romney - Lady Hamilton as The Magdalene.jpg, ''The Magdalene'' (before 1792) by George Romney (painter), George Romney File:Mariya Magdalena.jpg, ''Mary Magdalene (Sandys), Mary Magdalene'' (1858–1860) by Frederick Sandys File:Albert Edelfelt - Christ and Mary Magdalene.jpg, ''Christ and Mary Magdalene'' (1890) by Albert Edelfelt in a Finnish locale File:Carlo Marochetti, La Madeleine du groupe sculptural le Ravissement de sainte Marie-Madeleine. 1843. Marbre. Maître-autel de l'église de la Madeleine de Paris. Photo, Jamie Mulherron.jpg, ''The Magdalene'' (1843) by Carlo Marochetti


In music

* The Byzantine composer Kassia wrote the only penitential hymn for Mary Magdalene, ''Kyrie hē en pollais''. *Marc-Antoine Charpentier: **''Magdalena lugens voce sola cum symphonia,'' H.343 & H.343 a, motet for 1 voice, 2 treble instruments and continuo (1686–87). **''For Mary Magdalene,'' H.373, motet for 2 voices, 2 flutes and continuo (date unknown). **''Magdalena lugens'', H.388, motet for 3 voices and continuo (date unknown). **''Dialogus inter Magdalena et Jesum 2 vocibus Canto e Alto cum organo,'' H.423, for 2 voices and continuo (date unknown).


Religious views


Eastern Orthodox

The Eastern Orthodox Church has never identified Mary Magdalene with
Mary of Bethany Mary of Bethany is a Bible, biblical figure mentioned only by name in the Gospel of John in the Christianity, Christian New Testament. Together with her siblings Lazarus of Bethany, Lazarus and Martha, she is described by John as living in the vill ...
or the "sinful woman" who anoints Jesus in Luke 7:36–50 and has always taught that Mary was a virtuous woman her entire life, even before her conversion. They have never celebrated her as a penitent. Mary Magdalene's image did not become conflated with other women mentioned in Biblical texts until Pope Gregory the Great's sermon in the sixth century, and even then this only occurred in Western traditions. Instead, she has traditionally been honored as a "Myrrhbearers, Myrrhbearer" (Μυροφόρος; the equivalent of the western
Three Marys The Three Marys or Maries are women mentioned in the canonical gospel's narratives of the crucifixion Crucifixion is a method of punishment or capital punishment in which the victim is tied or nailed to a large wooden beam and left to hang perh ...

Three Marys
) and "Equal-to-apostles, Equal to the Apostles" (ἰσαπόστολος). For centuries, it has been the custom of many Eastern Orthodox Christians to share Easter egg, dyed and painted eggs, particularly on Easter, Easter Sunday. The eggs represent new life, and Christ bursting forth from the tomb. Among Eastern Orthodox Church, Eastern Orthodox Christians this sharing is accompanied by the proclamation Paschal greeting, "Christ is risen!" One folk tradition concerning Mary Magdalene says that following the death and resurrection of Jesus, she used her position to gain an invitation to a banquet given by the Roman emperor Tiberius in Rome. When she met him, she held a plain egg in her hand and exclaimed, "Christ is risen!" The emperor laughed, and said that Christ rising from the dead was as likely as the egg in her hand turning red while she held it. Before he finished speaking, the egg in her hand turned a bright red and she continued proclaiming the Gospel to the entire imperial house.


Roman Catholicism

During the
Counter-Reformation The Counter-Reformation (), also called the Catholic Reformation () or the Catholic Revival, was the period of Catholic Church, Catholic resurgence that was initiated in response to the Protestant Reformation, also known as the Protestant Revol ...
and Baroque periods (late 16th and 17th centuries), the description "penitent" was added to the indication of her name on her feast day, July 22. It had not yet been added at the time of the Tridentine Calendar of 1569 and is no longer found in the present
General Roman Calendar The General Roman Calendar is the liturgical Liturgy is the customary public worship Worship is an act of religion, religious wikt:devotion, devotion usually directed towards a deity. For many, worship is not about an emotion, it is mor ...
but, once added, it remained until the General Roman Calendar of 1960. The Gospel (liturgy), Gospel reading in the
Tridentine Mass The Tridentine Mass, also known as the Traditional Latin Mass or Traditional Rite, is the Roman Rite Mass (liturgy), Mass of the Catholic Church which appears in Editio typica, typical editions of the Roman Missal published from 1570 to 1962. Cel ...

Tridentine Mass
was Luke 7:36–50 (the sinful woman anointing the feet of Jesus), while in the present version of the Roman Rite of Mass (liturgy), Mass it is John 20:1–2, 11–8 (meeting of Mary Magdalene with Jesus after his resurrection).Mclaughlin, Lisa and David Van Biema. "Mary Magdalene Saint or Sinner?
timeonline.com
, August 11, 2003. Accessed June 7, 2009
According to Darrell Bock, the title of ''apostola apostolorum'' first appears in the 10th century, but Katherine Ludwig Jansen says she found no reference to it earlier than the 12th, by which time it was already commonplace. She mentions in particular Hugh of Cluny (1024–1109), Peter Abelard (1079–1142), and Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153) among those who gave Mary Magdalene the title of ''apostolorum apostola'' (apostle of the apostles). Jane Schaberg adds Geoffrey of Vendôme (c. 1065/70–1132). The equivalent of the phrase ''apostolorum apostola'' may have appeared already in the 9th century. Chapter XXVII of the ''Life of Mary Magdalene'' attributed to Hrabanus Maurus (c. 780 – 4 February 856) is headed: ''Ubi Magdalenam Christus ad apostolos mittit apostolam'' (Wherein Christ sends Magdalene as an apostle to the apostles). The same chapter says she did not delay in exercising the office of apostolate with which he had been honoured (''apostolatus officio quo honorata fuerat fungi non distulit''). Raymond E. Brown, commenting on this fact, remarks that Hrabanus Maurus frequently applies the word "apostle" to Mary Magdalene in this work. However the work is actually no earlier than the 12th century. Because of Mary Magdalene's position as an apostle, though not one of those who became official witnesses to the resurrection, the
Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Catholics Catholic Church by country, worldwide . As the wo ...

Catholic Church
honoured her by reciting the Gloria in excelsis Deo, Gloria on her feast day – the only female saint so honoured apart from Mary, the mother of Jesus. In his Ecclesiastical letter, apostolic letter ''Mulieris Dignitatem'' ("On the dignity and vocation of women", parts 67–69) dated August 15, 1988, Pope John Paul II dealt with the Easter events in relation to the women being present at the tomb after the Resurrection, in a section entitled 'First Witnesses of the Resurrection': On June 10, 2016, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issued a decree which elevated Mary's liturgical commemoration from an obligatory memorial to a Calendar of saints, feast day, like that of most of the Apostles (Peter and Paul are jointly commemorated with a solemnity). The Mass (Catholic Church), Mass and Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office) remain the same as they were, except that a specific Preface (liturgy), preface was added to the Mass to refer to her explicitly as the "Apostle to the Apostles".


Protestantism

The 1549 ''Book of Common Prayer'' had on July 22 a feast of Saint Mary Magdalene, with the same Scripture readings as in the
Tridentine Mass The Tridentine Mass, also known as the Traditional Latin Mass or Traditional Rite, is the Roman Rite Mass (liturgy), Mass of the Catholic Church which appears in Editio typica, typical editions of the Roman Missal published from 1570 to 1962. Cel ...

Tridentine Mass
and with a newly composed
collect The collect ( ) is a short general prayer of a particular structure used in Christian liturgy. Collects appear in the liturgies of Roman Catholic, Orthodoxy, Orthodox, Anglican, Methodism, Methodist, Lutheran, and Presbyterian churches, among othe ...
: "Merciful father geue us grace, that we neuer presume to synne through the example of anye creature, but if it shall chaunce vs at any tyme to offende thy dyuine maiestie: that then we maye truly repent, and lament the same, after the example of Mary Magdalene, and by lyuelye faythe obtayne remission of all oure sinnes: throughe the onely merites of thy sonne oure sauiour Christ." The 1552 edition omitted the feast of Saint Mary Magdalene, which was restored to the Book of Common Prayer only after some 400 years. Modern Protestants honor her as a disciple and friend of Jesus. Anglican Christians refer to her as a saint and may follow her example of repentance; While some interpret the Thirty-Nine Articles as forbidding them to call upon her for intercession, other Anglicans, citing the Episcopal burial service, say they can ask the saint to pray for them. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America honors Mary Magdalene on July 22 as an Apostle, albeit as a Lesser Festival. Presbyterianism, Presbyterians honor her as the "apostle to the apostles" and, in the book ''Methodist Theology'', Kenneth Wilson (theologian), Kenneth Wilson describes her as, "in effect", one of the "first missionaries". Mary Magdalene is Calendar of saints (Church of England), remembered in the Church of England with a Festival (Anglicanism), Festival on July 22, 22 July.


Baháʼí Faith

There are many references to Mary Magdalene in the writings of the Baháʼí Faith, where she enjoys an exalted status as a heroine of faith and the "archetypal woman of all cycles". `Abdu'l-Bahá, the son of the founder of the religion, said that she was "the channel of confirmation" to Jesus' disciples, a "heroine" who "re-established the faith of the apostles" and was "a light of nearness in his kingdom". `Abdu'l-Bahá also wrote that "her reality is ever shining from the horizon of Christ", "her face is shining and beaming forth on the horizon of the universe forevermore" and that "her candle is, in the assemblage of the world, lighted till eternity". `Abdu'l-Bahá considered her to be the supreme example of how women are completely equal with men in the sight of God and can at times even exceed men in holiness and greatness. Indeed he said that she surpassed all the men of her time, and that "crowns studded with the brilliant jewels of guidance" were upon her head. The Baháʼí literature, Baháʼí writings also expand upon the scarce references to her life in the Development of the New Testament canon, canonical Gospels, with a wide array of extra-canonical stories about her and sayings which are not recorded in any other extant historical sources. `Abdu'l-Bahá said that Mary traveled to Rome and spoke before the emperor Tiberius, which is presumably why Pilate was later recalled to Rome for his cruel treatment of the Jews (a tradition also attested to in the Eastern Orthodox Church). Baháʼís have noted parallels between Mary Magdalene and the Babí heroine-poet Táhirih. The two are similar in many respects, with Mary Magdalene often being viewed as a Christian antecedent of the latter, while Táhirih in her own right could be described as the spiritual return of the Magdalene; especially given their common, shared attributes of "knowledge, steadfastness, courage, virtue and will power", in addition to their importance within the religious movements of Christianity and the Baháʼí Faith as female leaders.


Relics

Many of the alleged relics of the saint are held in Catholic churches in France, especially at Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume, where her skull (see #The_Golden_Legend, above) and the ''noli me tangere'' are on display; the latter being a piece of forehead flesh and skin said to be from the spot touched by Jesus at the post-resurrection encounter in the garden. A tibia also kept at Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume is the object of an annual procession.Lawlor, Paula
''Skull of Mary Magdalene''
MagdalenePublishing.org, 11 April 2020, accessed 25 July 2020
Her left hand relic is kept in the Simonopetra Monastery on Mount Athos.Archimandrite Haralambos Vasilopoulos
The Incorrupt Left Hand of St. Mary Magdalene
orthochristian.com, 8 April 2015, accessed 25 July 2020


Speculations

In 1998, Ramon K. Jusino proposed an unprecedented argument that the "Beloved Disciple" of the
Gospel of John The Gospel according to John ( el, Εὐαγγέλιον κατὰ Ἰωάννην, translit=Euangélion katà Iōánnēn, also known as the Gospel of John, or simply John) is the fourth of the four canonical gospels. It contains a highly sc ...
is Mary Magdalene. Jusino based his argument largely on the Nag Hammadi
Gnostic Gnosticism (from grc, γνωστικός, gnōstikós, , 'having knowledge') is a collection of religious ideas and systems which coalesced in the late 1st century AD among Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2ISO The I ...
books, rejecting the view of Raymond E. Brown that these books were later developments, and maintaining instead that the extant Gospel of John is the result of modification of an earlier text that presented Mary Magdalene as the Beloved Disciple. The gospel, at least in its current form, clearly and consistently identifies the disciple as having masculine gender, only ever referring to him using words inflected in the masculine. There are no Textual variants in the New Testament, textual variants in extant New Testament manuscripts to contradict this, and thus no physical evidence of this hypothetical earlier document. Richard J. Hooper does not make the Jusino thesis his own, but says: "Perhaps we should not altogether reject the possibility that some Johannine Christians considered Mary Magdalene to be 'the disciple whom Jesus loved'." Esther A. de Boer likewise presents the idea as "one possibility among others", not as a definitive solution to the problem of the identity of the anonymous disciple. There is a theological interpretation of Mary as the Magdala, ''The Elegant Tower'' and certain churches honor her as a heroine of the faith in their teachings. Dan Brown's 2003 bestselling mystery thriller novel ''The Da Vinci Code'' popularized a number of erroneous ideas about Mary Magdalene, including that she was a member of the tribe of Benjamin, that she was Jesus's wife, that she was pregnant at the crucifixion, and that she gave birth to Jesus's child, who became the founder of Jesus bloodline, a bloodline which survives to this very day. There is no historical evidence (from the canonical or apocryphal gospels, other early Christian writings, or any other ancient sources) to support these statements. ''The Da Vinci Code'' also purports that the figure of the "beloved disciple" to Jesus's right in Leonardo da Vinci's ''The Last Supper (Leonardo da Vinci), The Last Supper'' is Mary Magdalene, disguised as one of the male disciples; art historians maintain that the figure is, in reality, the apostle John, who only appears feminine due to Leonardo's characteristic fascination with blurring the lines between the sexes, a quality which is found in his other paintings, such as ''St. John the Baptist (Leonardo), St. John the Baptist'' (painted 1513–1516). Furthermore, according to Ross King, an expert on Italian art, Mary Magdalene's appearance at the last supper would not have been controversial and Leonardo would have had no motive to disguise her as one of the other disciples, since she was widely venerated in her role as the "apostle to the apostles" and patron of the Dominican Order, for whom ''The Last Supper'' was painted. There would have even been precedent for it, since the earlier Italian Renaissance painter Fra Angelico had included her in his painting of the Last Supper. Criticism of The Da Vinci Code, Numerous works were written in response to the historical inaccuracies in ''The Da Vinci Code'', but the novel still exerted massive influence on how members of the general public viewed Mary Magdalene. In 2012, scholar Karen L. King published the Gospel of Jesus' Wife, a purported Coptic language, Coptic papyrus fragment in which Jesus says: "My wife ... she will be able to be my disciple." The overwhelming consensus of scholars is that the fragment is a modern forgery, and in 2016, King herself said that the alleged Gospel was a forgery. Ehrman states that the historical sources reveal absolutely nothing about Sexuality of Jesus, Jesus's sexuality and that there is no evidence whatsoever to support the idea that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married or that they had any kind of sexual or romantic relationship. None of the canonical gospels imply such a thing and, even in the late Gnostic gospels, where Mary is shown as Jesus's closest disciple, the relationship between them is not sexual. The extremely late ''Greater Questions of Mary'', which has not survived, allegedly portrayed Mary not as Jesus's wife or partner, but rather as an unwilling Voyeurism, voyeur. Ehrman says that the Essenes, a contemporary Jewish sect who shared many views with Jesus, and the apostle Paul, Jesus's later follower, both lived in unmarried celibacy, so it is not unreasonable to conclude that Jesus did as well. Furthermore, according to , Jesus taught that marriage would not exist at all in the coming kingdom of God. Since Jesus taught that people should live as though the kingdom had already arrived, this teaching implied a life of unmarried celibacy. Ehrman says that, if Jesus had been married to Mary Magdalene, the authors of the gospels would definitely have mentioned it, since they mention all his other family members, including his mother Mary, his father Saint Joseph, Joseph, his Brothers of Jesus, four brothers, and his at least two sisters.
Maurice Casey Philip Maurice Casey (18 October 1942 – 10 May 2014) was a British scholar of New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Bibl ...
rejects the idea of Mary Magdalene as Jesus's wife as nothing more than wild popular sensationalism. Jeffrey J. Kripal writes that "the historical sources are simply too contradictory and simultaneously too silent" to make absolute declarations regarding Jesus' sexuality.


See also

* Cathedral of the Madeleine (Salt Lake City, Utah) * Jesus' interactions with women * La Madeleine, Paris * Portal:Catholicism/Patron Archive/July 22, Mary Magdalene, patron saint archive * Miriai - Mandaean heroine that some equate with Mary Magdalene * New Testament people named Mary * Noli me tangere casket, ''Noli me tangere'' casket * Saint Sarah * St. Mary Magdalene's flood * ''The Magdalen Reading''


References


Notes

''María hē Magdalēnē'', literally "Mary the Magdala, Magdalene", Μαρία η Μαγδαληνή in Matthew 27:56, Matt 27:56; Matthew 27:61, 27:61; Matthew 28:1, 28:1; ; ; ; replaces "η" with "τη" because of the case change. says "Μαρία ... η Μαγδαληνή" and says "η Μαγδαληνή Μαρία". , John 20:1, 20:1 and John 20:18, 20:18 all say "Μαρία η Μαγδαληνή".


Citations


Sources

* * * * * * * * * * *
"Life of Mary Magdalen"
, William Caxton's English version of the ''Golden Legend'' of Jacobus de Voragine * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Johnston, Barbara, "Sacred Kingship and Royal Patronage in the La Vie de la Magdalene: Pilgrimage, Politics, Passion Plays, and the Life of Louise of Savoy" (Florida State), R. Neuman, Dissertation
PDF
88–93 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Further reading

* Acocella, Joan. "The Saintly Sinner: The Two-Thousand-Year Obsession with Mary Magdalene". ''The New Yorker'', February 13 & 20, 2006, p. 140–49. Prompted by controversy surrounding Dan Brown's ''The Da Vinci Code''. * Brock, Ann Graham. ''Mary Magdalene, The First Apostle: The Struggle for Authority''. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2003. . Discusses issues of apostolic authority in the gospels and the ''Gospel of Peter'' the competition between Peter and Mary, especially in chapter 7, "The Replacement of Mary Magdalene: A Strategy for Eliminating the Competition". * Burstein, Dan, and Arne J. De Keijzer. ''Secrets of Mary Magdalene''. New York: CDS Books, 2006. . * Jurgen Moltmann and E. Moltmann-Wendel, ''Humanity in God'' (London: SCM, 1984). * Jacobovici, Simcha and Barrie Wilson, "The Lost Gospel" (New York: Pegasus, 2014). * Pearson, Birger A. "Did Jesus Marry?". ''Bible Review'', Spring 2005, pp 32–39 & 47. Discussion of ''complete'' texts. * Picknett, Lynn, and Clive Prince. ''The Templar Revelation''. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997. . Presents a hypothesis that Mary Magdalene was a priestess who was Jesus' partner in a sacred marriage. * Shoemaker, Stephen J. "Rethinking the ‘Gnostic Mary’: Mary of Nazareth and Mary of Magdala in Early Christian Tradition". in ''Journal of Early Christian Studies'', 9 (2001) pp 555–595. * Thiering, Barbara. ''Jesus the Man: Decoding the Real Story of Jesus and Mary Magdalene''. New York: Simon & Schulster (Atria Books), 2006. . * Wellborn, Amy. ''De-coding Mary Magdalene: Truth, Legend, and Lies''. Huntington, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor, 2006. . A straightforward accounting of what is well-known of Mary Magdalene.


External links


St. Mary Magdalenepdf
from Alban Butler, Fr. Alban Butler'
''Lives of the Saints''

"Saint Mary Magdalene".
''Encyclopædia Britannica'' Online.





*

' *
''In Our Time''
on BBC Radio 4, February 25, 2016 *
''Mary Magdalene: The Unsuspected Truth or Why Mary Magdalene cannot have been the Wife of Jesus''
Interview by Nicolas Koberich, Translated from French by Thierry Murcia, PDF, La vie des Classiques (Les Belles Lettres publisher), 2020, 130 p. (free online). {{Authority control Mary Magdalene, 1st-century Christian female saints 1st-century deaths Ancient Jewish women Angelic visionaries Anglican saints Christian saints from the New Testament Exorcised people Followers of Jesus People celebrated in the Lutheran liturgical calendar Saints from the Holy Land Women in the New Testament Year of birth unknown