Over the years I have actually written rather a bit about Mary Magdalene and also her feasible relationship to mar of Bethany, sister that Martha and also their brothers Lazarus–who has actually a prominent role in the gospel of man (11:1-44; 12:1-8), is also mentioned as soon as in Luke 10:38-42, however nowhere else in the brand-new Testament. ~ above the various other hand, mark (followed by Matthew), knows the Jesus and his entourage (the disciples, his mother and also brothers) remain in Bethany the critical week that his life–leading approximately his crucifixion. One can well presume this is in ~ the home of Lazarus and also his 2 sisters, Mary and Martha. Mark also relates the story the a secret unnamed “woman” who anoints Jesus’ head through an alabaster flask of i have lot of money spikenard, additionally at Bethany the last week of Jesus’ life. In john it is plainly Mary that Bethany who does a similar (if not the same) anointing with spikenard–but of Jesus feet, clean everything them with her hair. Rather oddly, Luke has actually his own anointing story, with an unnamed woman that is a “sinner,” that anoints Jesus feet, weeps, and dries them through her hair. But his account is much previously in his gospel and seemingly nowhere near Bethany or Jerusalem (Luke 7:36-50).

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So how can all this possibly be sorted out. How countless times was Jesus “anointed” in such a scene–and through whom? and also why does mar of Bethany it seems to be ~ to simply disappear indigenous the scene after the anointing in man 12/Mark 14–whereas mary Magdalene reflects up therefore prominently in ~ Jesus’ crucifixion and to anoint the after his burial? I have actually surveyed the evidence in my article “In storage of Her: Mary’s forgotten Memorial,” without really coming to any type of firm conclusion. I have likewise posted a guest entry by Jennifer Duba-Scanlan the was initially published in 2012 but is accessible here “The secret of the three Marys,” too an previously guest article from 2008 by Wendy Pond, based on an e-mail she had actually sent me in an answer to my very own posting, i m sorry you can read here: “Guest post on Sorting the end the Marys.” I highly recommend both these write-ups from these an extremely insightful women. Just this week my friend and colleague, Jeffrey Bütz, common with me a paper he has written saying that mary Magdalene is in truth the same person as mary of Bethany–sister of Martha and their brothers Lazarus. The has offered me permission to short article it here. Jeffrey is the author of 2 groundbreaking books that I highly recommend: The brother of Jesus and the shed Teachings that Christianity and The mystery Legacy of Jesus: The Judaic Teachings that Passed from James the just to the founding Fathers. Based on all this fascinating input I intend it is about time I type out my very own evaluation and come to some conclusion. And also in this case, that is not simply a matter of textual evidence, but additionally how our take it on these assorted “Marys” can have influence on understanding the surname we uncover in the Talpiot Jesus tomb–as well as ossuaries enrolled Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in the tomb facility on the Mt that Olives (on the Dominus Flevit property). An ext on that soon, but for now, below is Jeffrey’s paper:

MARY MAGDALENE = mar OF BETHANY The situation for Equivalency The Rev. Jeffrey J. Bütz, M.Div., S.T.M.

For most of that existence, the roman inn Catholic Church teach that mar Magdalene and Mary that Bethany (sister of Martha and also Lazarus) to be one and the very same person. This is regularly attributed come a sermon given by Pope Gregory the good in the year 591 in which he asserted the two Mary’s were the same person, but this id must absolutely predate Gregory together we shall see. This identification became cemented in the basic Roman Calendar, in i beg your pardon the Feast of mary Magdalene (July 22) has a collect referring to mar of Bethany. There to be no separate Feast day in honor of mar of Bethany until 1969 when the festival liturgy to be revised and now mary of Bethany is celebrated together with her sister Martha and brother Lazarus on July 29, showing the fact that the present interpretation of the Catholic Church is that these are two different women. This recent transition in understanding may have actually been influenced by the east Orthodox and Protestant churches who have always held that these were various women. This day the vast bulk of Christians host to this common assumption.

But walk this common assumption really host water? I would certainly emphatically claim it go not. I, too, simply adhered to this frequently held belief until I newly visited trip sites in southwestern France where regional Catholics firmly host that mary Magdalene and also other household members resided in exile ~ fleeing persecution in Palestine. My an individual pilgrimage there has caused me to radically re-evaluate several of my long-held assumptions. After ~ looking deeper into the story told of the 2 Mary’s in the gospels and other early on Christian literature, ns have come to be convinced they room one and also the very same person. Once examined objectively, the textual proof seems indisputable and also I present that evidence here.

Let’s begin at the start with the earliest account we have actually (according to the “Marcan priority” view held by the vast majority of scholars). It is in Mark’s gospel that we first encounter mary in the renowned story of the “Anointing at Bethany.” there is a parallel account in Matthew’s gospel (26:6-13) i beg your pardon is nearly word-for-word identical, making the clear that Matthew has simply borrowed Mark’s account. Here is the earlier account in mark (14:3-9, NRSV):

3 if he to be at Bethany in the residence of Simon the leper, together he sat at the table, a mrs came v an alabaster jug of very costly ointment that nard, and also she damaged open the jar and also poured the ointment ~ above his head. 4 however some were there who stated to one one more in anger, “Why was the ointment wasted in this way? 5 because that this ointment can have been marketed for much more than three hundred denarii, and also the money given to the poor.” and also they scolded her. 6 but Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you problem her? She has performed a good service because that me. 7 because that you constantly have the poor with you, and also you can present kindness to them whenever friend wish; however you will certainly not constantly have me. 8 She has done what she could; she has actually anointed my human body beforehand because that its burial. 9 Truly i tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the totality world, what she has actually done will certainly be said in remembrance that her.”

There are two points to keep in mind in Mark’s account. First, the woman who anoints Jesus is no named. If we only had actually Mark’s account, this woman would be forever anonymous. Why doesn’t mark name her? There room two possibilities: Either note did not recognize her identification or he simply determined not to surname her (as so plenty of other ladies in the gospels walk unnamed). Everything the case, in mark we have the an initial evidence of the feasible equivalency of mar of Bethany and Mary Magdalene: the anointing takes location in the city of Bethany (the home of the sister Mary and Martha and their brothers Lazarus) and an “alabaster jar” that ointment is offered (which has end up being symbolic of mary Magdalen in Christian art). We shall check out further evidence for this once we study John’s account. Yet first, let united state look at another story the anointing by an anonymous woman as taped by Luke (7:36-50 NRSV):

36 among the Pharisees asked Jesus come eat through him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and also took his ar at the table. 37 and a mrs in the city, that was a sinner, having actually learned the he to be eating in the Pharisee’s house, lugged an alabaster jug of ointment. 38 She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and also began to bathe his feet v her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and also anointing them v the ointment. 39 currently when the Pharisee who had invited him observed it, he stated to himself, “If this male were a prophet, that would have actually known who and also what sort of woman this is who is emotional him—that she is a sinner.” 40 Jesus speak up and said come him, “Simon, I have actually something to say come you.” “Teacher,” the replied, “speak.” 41 “A details creditor had two debtors; one owed 5 hundred denarii, and also the other fifty. 42 once they can not pay, he canceled the debts for both that them. Currently which that them will certainly love that more?” 43 Simon answered, “I suppose the one because that whom the canceled the greater debt.” and Jesus stated to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman, he claimed to Simon, “Do you watch this woman? I gotten in your house; you provided me no water because that my feet, however she has bathed mine feet with her tears and dried them v her hair. 45 You provided me no kiss, but from the moment I came in she has actually not quit kissing mine feet. 46 you did no anoint mine head v oil, however she has actually anointed my feet through ointment. 47 Therefore, i tell you, her sins, which to be many, have been forgiven; therefore she has actually shown great love. However the one come whom small is forgiven, loves little.” 48 climate he claimed to her, “Your sins space forgiven.” 49 but those that were at the table through him started to say among themselves, “Who is this who also forgives sins?” 50 and he claimed to the woman, “Your confidence has saved you; walk in peace.”

The first question that have to be inquiry is this: Is Luke’s account recording the same occasion as Mark, or is this a 2nd instance of an unnamed mrs anointing Jesus native an alabaster jar? among the points favoring the last interpretation is the this woman anoints Jesus’ feet, while in Mark’s account that is his head the is anointed. Also, Luke’s account takes location in the home of a Pharisee, if Mark’s account is in the residence of “Simon the leper.” This has led part scholars to assume these were two different events, or at the very least two different traditions received separately by Mark and Luke. Luke’s account takes location in Galilee early on in Jesus’ ministry, if the accounts in Mark and also John take place in Bethany during the critical week that Jesus’ ministry just prior to Passover. So, ~ above the surface ar it would appear that these room two various events.

However, in spite of these differences in time and also place, there is one striking similarity in between Mark and Luke. In both accounts an anonymous woman just suddenly shows up out that nowhere and also anoints Jesus. This is most unusual. And also it seems extremely unlikely that two various anonymous females would have actually done this on two various occasions (and in two different houses the a male named Simon). The most likely explanations are that Luke either got this legacy in a different type than what Mark had actually (from his distinct “L source,” according to what scholars speak to the Two-Document Theory), or Luke had actually theological reasons for transforming the setup of the legacy he discovered in Mark. It is the last that seems most logical together I shall currently explain.

One of the many striking differences in Luke is that specifically points the end that this woman was a “sinner” which note does no (nor john as us shall see). There room a couple possible factors for Luke law this. One might be to allow him to use this story together an exemplar that Jesus’ authority to pardon sins. Supporting this is the fact that the mini-parable Jesus tells, known as the “Parable that the two Debtors” is found in no other gospel. Another feasible motive is the Luke wants to explain why a woman would dare come touch a guy to who she was not married, a an excellent sin follow to Jewish law. Both of these reasons were likely in play because that Luke. Supporting this is the other glaring difference in Luke’s account—this woman anoints Jesus’ feet, no his head. In Mark’s account, after the woman anoints Jesus’ head, that says, “she has actually anointed my body beforehand because that its burial.” In removed the anointing indigenous the paper definition of burial, Luke supplies a much more practical explanation because that the anointing. The mrs washes and also anoints Jesus’ feet together a servant would normally do as a matter of formal protocol when a guest went to a house (and Jesus pointedly disparages Simon the Pharisee for failing to carry out this). And there is one more piece of proof for Luke’s knowingly rearrangement the Mark’s account. Follow to Catholic scholar Robert Karris,

“He has collection the legacy within the structure of a Hellenistic symposium genre, which the employs likewise in 11:37-54 and 14:1-24. The dramatis personae of this genre room host, chief guest, and other guests. The framework is invite (v 36), progressive revelation of that the host (v 40) and other guests (v 49) are, the fait divers or action that prompts the speech of the chief guest (v 39, Simon’s unspoken reaction), and also the decided of the chief guest (vv. 40-50).” <1>Robert J. Karris, O.F.M., The new Jerome Biblical Commentary (Raymond Brown, Joseph Fitzmyer, Roland Murphy eds. (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1990), p. 697.

It is enlightening to keep in mind that it is just in Luke’s gospel the Jesus eats in the residence of a Pharisee, and does for this reason on three occasions! that seems quite clear the Luke has actually taken Mark’s story and edited it because that his very own theological purposes. Thus, we can leave beside Luke’s account in trying to identify the really historicity that the anointing story.

Let us move on then to the account in the Gospel of john which is much much more enlightening as the actual historicity that this anointing (John 12:1-7 NRSV):

Six days prior to the Passover Jesus concerned Bethany, the house of Lazarus, who he had raised indigenous the dead. 2 there they offered a dinner because that him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table through him. 3 mary took a pound of costly perfume make of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them through her hair. The home was filled with the fragrance the the perfume. 4 however Judas Iscariot, one of his hands-on worker (the one who was around to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this perfume not offered for three hundred denarii and the money provided to the poor?” 6 (He claimed this not since he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he retained the usual purse and also used to steal what to be put into it.) 7 Jesus said, “Leave she alone. She bought that so the she might keep it for the day of mine burial.”

We automatically see the this account is much more in line with the account in Mark. Both the time-frame (just prior to Passover) and the locale (Bethany) space identical. Only the specific location differs—the house of Simon the Leper in Mark, and the house of Mary, Martha, and also Lazarus in John. Regardless of this difference, as we observed earlier, the is very daunting to believe that Mark and John record two different events. Us are now left with just two possibilities concerning this singular anointing: Either john has changed the location, perhaps using a different account native the tradition uncovered in Mark, or John’s account is the many accurate. There room very good reasons for favoring the latter. Dr. James Tabor has displayed that in so numerous instances whereby John differs from the synoptic gospels, John has corrected the earlier tradition with far better historical information. <2>James D. Tabor, The Jesus Dynasty (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006) This have the right to be checked out here, in that john differs from note in one other detail: the agrees through Luke against Mark that mary anoints the feet the Jesus not his head. John likewise agrees v Luke the she delete everything his feet with her hair. As we saw, the is this extremely controversial act the impelled Luke come deem this woman a sinner. Yet in John, as in Mark, this action is understood as a preparation for Jesus’ burial. Man is plainly correcting both Mark and also Luke. And also it is in John’s to know of mary of Bethany as the woman who does the anointing in ready for Jesus’ funeral that we have actually the primary evidence that mar of Bethany is in fact Mary Magdalene. Together Catholic scholar, Hugh Pope listed over a century ago in the Catholic Encyclopedia:

“Is that credible, in watch of all this, the this mary should have no location at the foot of the cross, nor at the tomb of Christ? and also yet that is mar Magdalen who, according to every the Evangelists, stood in ~ the foot of the cross and assisted at the entombment and was the an initial recorded witness that the resurrection. And also while man calls her ‘Mary Magdalen’ in 19:25, 20:1, and also 20:18, he calls her just ‘Mary’ in 20:112 and also 20:16.” <3>Hugh Pope, “St. Mary Magdalen,” The Catholic Encyclopedia (New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910).

Indeed, why would Mary the Bethany, who Jesus says (in Mark), “anointed my body beforehand because that its burial” and also who Jesus claims (in John) purchase the ointment, “so that she might keep it for the work of mine burial” not be in ~ the dig to complete what she had actually begun? according to all 4 gospels a woman name mar was in ~ the tomb to do just that. And also this mrs is referred to as Mary Magdalene. Mine thesis that mary of Bethany and also Mary Magdalene are one and the same human resolves every the inequalities in the gospels. But, over there is simply one other significant question come resolve, the “elephant in the room” at Bethany: Why would Mary be allowed to touch Jesus in together an intimate method in public, and additionally be the one to prepare his human body for burial after the crucifixion (which additionally involves intimate touching)? to answer that way opening a vast can the worms ideal left for another day!

I would choose to finish with one more piece of evidence for the equivalency of mar of Bethany and the Magdalene through citing the so-called “Secret Gospel that Mark,” which a number of scholars (including Helmut Koester, Marvin Meyer, and John Dominic Crossan) think is an earlier version of mark (of i beg your pardon canonical note is an abbreviated version). We only have two extant i from secret Mark kept in the “Mar Saba Letter,” thought by a majority of scholars to have actually been composed by Clement that Alexandria. One of those i is the story of the elevating of Lazarus (found just in John’s gospel) and also its inclusion in mystery Mark is evidence that man must have actually known the earlier and longer “Secret Mark.” according to Clement the complying with was originally found in between Mark 10:34 and 10:35:

And castle come into Bethany. And a specific woman whose brother had died was there. And, coming, she prostrated herself prior to Jesus and also says to him, “Son of David, have actually mercy on me.” yet the hands-on worker rebuked her. And Jesus, being angered, walk off with her right into the garden where the tomb was, and also straightway a great cry to be heard from the tomb. And also going near Jesus rolled far the stone from the door that the tomb. And also straightway, going in wherein the youth was, he extended forth his hand and raised him, seizing his hand. But the youth, looking top top him, love him and also began to beseech him the he can be through him. And also going the end of the dig they came into the house of the youth, for he was rich.

The one various other passage Clement cites, he states was originally part of mark 10:46: ” . . . ~ the words, ‘And he comes right into Jericho’ the an enig Gospel to add . . . ‘And the sister that the youth whom Jesus loved and also his mother and Salome to be there, and also Jesus walk not receive them.’” There room two points of note below that add further evidence to our concept of equivalency. The first is the statement: “And the sister the the youth whom Jesus loved and his mother and Salome were there.” This is many striking for the “youth who Jesus loved” is clearly Lazarus and also his sister is obviously mar of Bethany. What significant is that according come Mark’s gospel the three women who checked out the dig to anoint the human body of Jesus were “Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome” (Mark16:1). “Mary the mom of James” is certainly referring come the mother of Jesus, because that James was Jesus’ brother. Salome is one of two people the sister that Jesus or the sister the his mother. This is backed up by the gnostic Gospel the Philip, i m sorry in city 32 says, “There were three who walked with the Lord: mary his mother, and also his mummy sister, and also Miriam Magdalen, recognized as his companion . . .”

We shall not even start to delved here into the current dispute over the definition of “companion”! but there is one final thing that note. The front quote from Clement states that the youth who Jesus raised was rich. This becomes far-reaching when we look in ~ this passage from Luke (8:1-3 NIV): after this, Jesus traveled about from one city and town to another, proclaiming the an excellent news that the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and likewise some women who had actually been cured of evil spirits and also diseases: mary (called Magdalene) from whom 7 demons had actually come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These ladies were helping to assistance them out of their own means.

This passage attests that some of Jesus’ female pendant were wealthy and financed Jesus’ ministry. Joanna is the mam of King Herod’ family manager! and also this passage intimates that mary Magdalene was wealthy. And also we learn from “Secret Mark” that mary of Bethany to be wealthy.

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In summary, we have actually a wealth of info that once put with each other all points to one conclusion. The roman Catholic Church had actually it right from the beginning. Mary of Bethany and also Mary Magdalene room one.