Textual Criticism and What Jesus Learned from Martha and Mary

Textual Criticism and What Jesus Learned from Martha and Mary October 17, 2019

There have been a number of blog posts about recent research by Elizabeth Schrader on Martha in the Gospel of John, and whether her presence is in fact an interpolation that caused some confusion and misidentifications related to the Mary mentioned alongside her in the majority of manuscripts. I think it will take a book-length treatment to explore how our portraits of the various women involved would change in light of this work. It probably won’t make sense for me to try to do this in my own book, but I need at the very least to think through the implications of this for my project. The story in Luke doesn’t change, as far as I can tell. When it comes to the Gospel of John, Schrader notes that, on the one hand, no manuscript exists from which Martha is completely absent. But wherever she is mentioned, there is textual variation. That Martha was added to the Gospel offers a straightforward explanation of the manuscript evidence. What I’m not sure about is whether this genuinely impacts the impression of who does certain things in the New Testament as far as historical reconstruction is concerned, or whether this might not simply be the result of a scribe who had read Luke then adding references to Martha in John, where originally only Mary the sister of Lazarus was mentioned. Or is Schrader correct that it was originally Mary Magdalene in John and that she gets turned into Mary of Bethany by scribes? What do you think?

Definitely read Shrader’s article, which is one of the most impressive pieces of deductive text critical scholarship I’ve ever read. For more on this topic, see:

Is Martha the Sister of Mary Magdalene?

Tommy Wasserman responded to the multiple guest posts by Schrader about this on the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog, asking whether Martha is an interpolation in John. Here are one, two, three, four posts on that topic from ETC.

Scribes tried to blot her out. Now a scholar is trying to recover the real Mary Magdalene.

Candida Moss on conspiracy to suppress Mary Magdalene

One Biblical Scholar’s Attempt to Uncover the Real Mary Magdalene

James Snapp on Mary, Martha, and John 11

A Recent Doctoral Thesis on the Marys in the Fourth Gospel

The Textual Mechanic

For those who prefer an audio-visual treatment of this topic, here are shorter and longer versions of a podcast:

For another interesting angle on Martha and Mary, do look at the work of Mary Stromer Hanson.

A New View of Mary and Martha

See also:

New Clues for Ascent of the Soul in the Gospel of Mary

Jesus’ Women Disciples

Sara Parks spoke about her work on women in Q:

The first issue of the Journal of Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies is available!

Current Issue

Watch or at least listen to this lecture by Amy-Jill Levine on stories about women in the New Testament:

I found it while looking for the best way to share her lecture on Mary Magdalene at the Chautauqua Institution. I highly recommend that as well. See also:

Women in the Story of Jesus

A review of To Cast the First Stone:

To Cast the First Stone

And a review of Susan Hylen’s book on women in the New Testament worldIan McFarland wrote about three women that Jesus spoke with in the Gospels. And on yet another story about Jesus and a woman, Andrew’s Version has a post about “Sabbath, Law, and Liberation.” See too:

Jesus Has a Bad Day

Even Jesus Had Bad Days–and we can learn something from them

Will Women Be Saved Through Childbearing?

Men and Women in Christ (MWiC)

“Teaching was unrighteous for a girl”: The History of Violence Against Women Preachers

Sermon: God must be crazy!

Doesn’t Christianity Denigrate Women? (RJS)

Do Men and Women Have Different Brains?

Rachael Denhollander: What’s a Girl Worth?

The Status Of Women, The Status Of “Women’s Work”

A Womanist Approach to Racial Reconciliation

Kate Bowler on Evangelical Women Celebrities

Coming Out of Complementarianism: one woman’s long journey to freedom

Gender-Fluid Jesus is No Joke

David Raped Bathsheba and This is Why That Matters.

Did King David Rape Bathsheba?

Mothers and Saints

2FAB: Amma Sarah

A Letter to the Editor: Hagar Has Her Say by Marilyn Batchelor

Andrea White on Womanist Eschatology and Hermeneutical Method

The First Woman Protestant Reformer

Women’s Issues and Concerns in the Old Testament

Recent Books of Interest to Women Scholars


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