Why is there so much odd information on Mary Magdalene? How can we be sure that none of it is actually true? How do we know if something is inspired? Is she the woman who was the prostitute, or the one with the seven demons? -- Lauren
I assume you are referring to the extrabiblical information, written generations after Mary Magdalene died, and claiming she was a virtual apostle, Jesus' girlfriend, or something more. To answer the first question, I suppose people speculated about Mary Magdalene, or made up stories, to satisfy their own curiosity or to persuade others of their theological viewpoints. Maybe it is because she was the first eyewitness of the resurrection. In our increasingly liberal society, those who make her out to be Jesus' wife or mistress definitely have an axe to grind. Of course there is no biblical evidence for their position. There are many websites related to Mary Magdalene, some more factual, others more fictional.
As you mention, the Bible says she was a supportive follower of Jesus and a former demoniac (Luke 8:2, Mark 16:9). She anointed Jesus (John 12:3), and many believe it is reasonable to identify her with the "sinful woman" of Luke 7:36-50. Some are offended by the idea that God's grace could so radically transform a prostitute, which is sad. But beyond these biblical facts, who knows? We ought not to speculate. By the way, you might want to look at the following selection from the Catholic Encyclopedia. Ultimately it is probably not wise to be dogmatic about her identity. One thing is clear, though: she was a remarkable woman.
If you are asking about how we know something is inspired, I would encourage you to keep reading your Bible every day. Spend more time there than in the speculative literature of the 4th century--or of the 21st century! If you are not convinced that the Bible is God's word or have questions as to its veracity, you might want to read my book Compelling Evidence, available at this website.
This article is copyrighted and is for private use and study only. © 2005. Reprints or public distribution is prohibited without the express consent of Douglas Jacoby.