Mary Magdalene

follower of Jesus
(Redirected from Mary of Magdala)

Mary Magdalene (born: Late First century BC or early First century AD, died: Mid to late First Century AD) An important female disciple of Jesus of Nazareth who is mentioned in the Gospels of the canonical New Testament, the Nag Hammadi Gnostic texts and the Gospel of Mary Magdalene. In addition, a large body of extra-canonical traditions, legends and literature has grown up around her name. To this day, she has had an enduring influence on the popular culture of Western civilisation. In the Western Latin Church she has typically been thought of as synonymous with other women within the early Christian movement, for example the unidentified sinner who washed the feet of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke and Mary of Bethany. The Eastern Orthodox Church maintains that they are three separate women.



  • The Magdalene,
    Childlike in ignorance, her thought athirst
    For that diviner knowledge which the priests
    Had never taught in her far-distant home,
    Stood earnest listening to the words that fell
    From the firm lips of Jesus. Day by day
    They sank upon her heart like blessed rain,
    Calling the secret powers that lay within
    Deep buried, forth to beauty and to life.
    • Mrs. Sarah Dana (Loring) Greenough, Mary Magdalene: A Poem (1880), Stanza XX

New TestamentEdit

Sayings attributed to Mary in the New Testament, as well as general references to her person. For the purposes of this article it will be presumed that Mary Magdalene is synonymous with the Mary typically referred to as being 'of Bethany' and the unidentified sinner of Luke.

  • Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.
    • Luke 8:1-3 (English Standard Version)
  • When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
    • Luke 7:36-48 (New International Version)
    • This woman is unidentified in the text but is commonly assumed as being Mary Magdalene in the Latin tradition
  • As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
    • Luke 10:38-42 (New International Version)
    • This Mary is sometimes referred to as 'Mary of Bethany'. It is disputed whether this is the same 'Mary' as Mary Magdalene. The woman is simply referred to as 'Mary' in the text.
  • Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.)So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick...When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died".
    • John 11:1-2 (New International Version) & 11:29-32 (New International Version)
    • This Mary is sometimes referred to as 'Mary of Bethany'. It is disputed whether this is the same 'Mary' as Mary Magdalene. The woman is simply referred to as 'Mary' in the text.
  • Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
    • John 12:13 (New International Version)
  • There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.
    • Matthew 27:55 (English Standard Version)


  • Not a single one of our ancient sources indicates that Jesus was married, let alone married to Mary Magdalene. All such claims are part of modern fictional reconstructions of Jesus' life, not rooted in the surviving accounts themselves. The historical approach to our sources may not be as exciting and sensationalist as fictional claims about Jesus (he kept a lover! he had sex! he made babies!), but there's something to be said for knowing what really happened in history, even if it is not as titillating as what happens in novels.
    • Bart D. Ehrman, Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code (2004), Ch. 7: "Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Marriage"

See alsoEdit

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