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:
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.
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.
The first issue of the Journal of Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies is available!
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:
A review of To Cast the First Stone:
And a review of Susan Hylen’s book on women in the New Testament world. Ian 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: