What do the following films and plays have in common?
- Jesus Christ Super Star
- The Last Temptation of Christ
- The Passion of the Christ
- The Da Vinci Code
Obviously, they are all stories about Jesus. But they have something else in common, or should I say someone else. They have a character from scripture that people know a lot about. Or at least they think they do. Her name was Mary.
The Seven Mary’s
There are seven women named Mary in the New Testament, some are mentioned prominently, like Mary the mother of Jesus. They can be difficult to identify, like the Mary in Romans 16:6. Who was she?
Historically, there isn’t much information on them. And some of the information we do have may not be accurate.
There is another Mary often mentioned in scripture, more often than many of the apostles were. She was Mary of Magdala or Mary Magdalene. Now, quickly, think about everything you know about her. She was…
- a sinful woman.
- a prostitute.
- the woman who washed Jesus’s feet in Luke 7.
- the woman caught in adultery in John 8.
- the woman who married Jesus.
- his lover.
- the mother of his child.
Almost everything we think we know about Mary Magdalene comes from the movies, plays, and art, such as Da Vinci’s painting of the last supper, and many others.
Facts are irritating things as they often interfere with the truth, or the truth as we see it. Senator Moynihan of New York is credited with this quote:
“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”
Some Facts From Scripture
- Mary Magdalene was never identified as a sinful woman.
- The sinful woman who washed his feet was unnamed.
- The woman caught in adultery was unnamed.
- Mary was never identified as a prostitute.
- She was never identified as the wife of Christ.
- Or as his lover.
- Or as the mother of his child.
Seven little facts about Mary Magdalene, all of which were wrong, or at least unsubstantiated in scripture. Sadly, most of what is believed about her comes out of Hollywood.
Some Biblical Facts
Mary Magdalene had seven demons cast out of her. She was one of several women who traveled with Jesus and his apostles supporting their needs from her funds. She was the first, or one of the first, to see the empty tomb, she was the first to tell the apostles that Jesus had risen. She was the first person the resurrected Jesus appeared to. She stood at Mary’s side, the mother of Jesus, throughout the cross and burial.
Sometimes opinions and myths shape our understanding of truth.
Mary Magdalene was a significant person in the Jesus narrative and was someone Jesus called to serve in his ministry. She was well regarded and respected in the early church. She wasn’t the whore often depicted in paintings and films.
“Everyone is entitled to his own opinions, but not his own facts.”