Has there been any biblical or historical research done on Mary Magdalene that you would recommend reading? Do you know of any "legend has it" or "theories" (ones that make sense) as to whatever happened to her? -- Sandra Arnold
Response from Joey Harris (thanks!):
Unfortunately, not much is known about Mary Magdalene. There are a lot of books that have appeared since The Da Vinci Code, but I have not read any of them and so cannot really recommend any in particular. The legends you are asking about are "fantabulous" to say the least, as are many of the "theories." Here's what little I know:
* Mary was not a prostitute, as has become fixed in legend, lore, and art. Her story was merged with that of an unknown sinful woman who loved much, poured perfume over Jesus' feet, and wiped his feet with her hair. Jesus forgave her. This appears at the end of Luke 7 and Mary Magdalene is mentioned at the beginning of Luke 8, so perhaps this is how the two became conflated.
* Mary apparently came from Magdala, an important fishing town near Tiberias by the Sea of Galilee. There are several potential Magdalas, but all were fishing towns near Tiberias.
* Mary was cured of demon possession by Jesus. According to both Mark and Luke, Mary had seven demons cast out of her by Jesus.
* According to Luke 8, Mary was part of the circle of women disciples who traveled with Jesus and the Twelve during Jesus' ministry period. These women provided for the men from their own resources, indicating that at least some of them were "women of means." In fact, in this same passage, Luke mentions "Joanna the wife of Cuza (Herod's household manager)" as one of these women who took care of Jesus and the Twelve.
* All four gospel writers are unanimous in mentioning that Mary Magdalene was the first person to see the resurrected Jesus and among the first to find the empty tomb.
* Mary was very important to the gospel writers: in every list (except one in John 19) of the women who were around Jesus, Mary Magdalene is named first. Primary placement within a list of names often indicates importance in biblical lists going back to Genesis and including many of the lists within the gospels (e.g. the lists of the apostles). In the single exception, John 19, Jesus' mother is named first and that list ends with Mary Magdalene.
* Mary was apparently an important figure in the early church. The primary reason why she did not continue to be so recognized probably has to do with her prominence as a figure in Gnostic texts and among Gnostic groups. As a prominent female disciple of Jesus, Mary Magdalene was a powerful symbol for many Gnostic principles as a companion and counterpart of Jesus.
I hope that is helpful. I do not think that Gnostic stories of Mary M. or the medieval legends surrounding her relationship with Jesus are particularly helpful, nor do they bear any relation to the biblical accounts.
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