What Jesus Learned from Mary Magdalene

What Jesus Learned from Mary Magdalene July 13, 2019

I am still debating whether to start my chapter about Mary Magdalene in the book I am writing, What Jesus Learned From Women, by trying to get jokes out of the way first.

Q: What did Jesus learn from Mary Magdalene?

A: How to be a good husband.

I’m not persuaded that Jesus and Mary were married. But I won’t give the issue short shrift, but will explain the reasons for my views.

For me, I think one of the biggest points to tackle about Mary Magdalene in relation to this topic is the meaning of demon possession/demonization in Jesus’ time. A woman who was liberated from seven demons was someone severely afflicted, by any range of ailments. Presenting her in this way does not carry the connotations of her having been somehow twisted or involved in wrongdoing that might have opened her to demonic influences. That’s modern fundamentalist Pentecostalism’s idea of demons, not those of antiquity. If we read the Book of Tobit, there’s no sense in which Sarah is blameworthy of the fact that a demon is making her life miserable.

I also will ask whether Matthew 12:45 (Luke 11:26) reflects something Jesus learned through his interaction with Mary Magdalene. Does that tradition suggest that Mary had been to other healers who had helped briefly only to make matters worse not long after?

What are your views about Mary Magdalene? What are the biggest questions about her that you have, that you wish could be answered?

There was an article about her in Der Spiegel. There is a Magdalene Blog that is worth following. The Episcopal Cafe highlighted things the Presiding Bishop said about Mary Magdalene in conjunction with Easter.

Miriam de Magdala: Testigo y Discípula…

Las mujeres en el movimiento de Jesús, el Cristo — Elsa Tamez

Early Christian Women and the Making of Scripture

Séminaire connecté : Marie Madeleine, au delà des idées reçues

Ben Witherington blogged about Magdala of Galilee in a multi-part series.

Mary features prominently in the 1958 movie The Sword and the Cross.

Magdala: A Galilean Town

In a French interview, Sara Parks discusses popular views of Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus.

An article in El Pais highlighted the work of Jennifer Ristine about Mary and her city.

Article about Elizabeth Schrader’s work on Mary, Mary, and Martha from the angle of textual criticism

Three Fibs We Keep Telling about the New Testament

The Mystery of the “The Three Marys”

The Magdala Stone: The Jerusalem Temple Embodied

Were Jesus and Mary Magdalene Lovers?

Sojourners had a relevant article for Women’s History Month.

RBL has a book review of Thierry Murica, Marie appelée la Magdaléenne: Entre traditions et histoire. Murica argues that Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus are the same person! Reading Religion also drew attention to two books about Mary Magdalene.

An address on Mary as apostle to the apostles

On Good Government & Good Girls: How the Museum of the Bible’s Founding Family Turned Themselves into Bible Experts

I’ve also been reading about demon possession in recent to modern times as well as antiquity, to help me better understand what Mary’s experiences and social situation may have been.

More generally about women in the New Testament (and beyond):

She Treasured It In Her Heart

Because Complementarianism Is About Power

Why I Believe in Women in Ministry (Gupta)

When Gender Theology Doesn’t Fit in Our Boxes: Then and Now

Ruth is not a Cinderalla Story

Mainstreaming Women’s Ministries

NOW HEAR THIS: CONSIDER THE WOMEN

My Pastor Was a Woman

Logia for June 2019: “But, Lord, She Was a Woman” by David McNutt

Finally, don’t miss Adela Yarbro Collins’ article about Paul’s reference in Galatians to there being neither male nor female, in the new open access journal, the Journal of Ethics in Antiquity and Christianity.

Sexism and religion

 

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  • John MacDonald

    I don’t think Jesus was married, to Marry Magdalene or anyone else, if Mark 12:25 is an indicator:

    When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage. Instead, they will be like the angels in heaven.

    If this is reflective of Jesus’s point of view, I think he probably would have thought he had more important things to do than devote his time to husbandly/fatherly duties.

    • John MacDonald

      On the other hand, Jesus’s prohibition against divorce goes against Hebrew scripture tradition and is attested to in all the earliest sources, so any interpretation of Mark 12:25 would have to be reconciled with this.