"The World Cannot see the light but through the eyes of the Magdalene '"

 

"Eyes are the windows of the soul" by Angela Dawson 2013

Two thousand years of confusion

Around 2000 years ago, a woman walked into the House of Bethany to anoint a Man from Nazareth who had been called the Messiah. His name was Jesus, who had brought with him his many disciples and dedicated followers. This anointing scene would end up having repercussions for this woman, whose name and image would be tarnished and misunderstood for hundreds of years.  It did not help when Pope Gregory the Great in 591 declared that a "sinful" woman in Luke's Gospel who anointed Jesus' feet was Mary Magdalene who in turn was Mary of Bethany;  "She whom Luke calls the sinful woman, whom John calls Mary [of Bethany], we believe to be the Mary from whom seven devils were ejected according to Mark" (Homilies on the Gospels).

The Bible has different accounts as to what went on and who was present at the anointing scene in the four gospels. I have studied these passages with the increasing impression that the authors of each one had been influenced by others, for example, St Peter or St Paul.

Below is some of the issues of conflicts regarding Mary Magdalene and possible identification to who she was:

Mary the Magdalene from Bethany

The anointing scene at the Bethany household, Mary's home with sister Martha and brother Lazarus, brings up some interesting questions.  Somewhere along the line, this Mary becomes the Magdalene and why Mary of Bethany disappears could have something to do with Mary's relationship with Jesus. I do find it very odd that if Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalene are different women, then why are they never seen together, considering the importance of both.

Also if Mary of Bethany was separate from Mary Magdalene and we know that she poured perfume on Jesus' body to prepare for his burial (Matt 26:12-13) and also anointing his feet with expensive perfume 6 days before Passover in John 12:1-3 with Jesus saying this act will be remembered, then how can Mary of Bethany not be at the crucifixion, burial or resurrection despite all of her previous involvement. In turn its a woman called Mary Magdalene who pops up without introduction and emerges as the woman who takes on the role which should of been Mary of Bethany.

Sinful Woman:

When reading Luke 7:37, we come across a "sinful woman" who then anoints Jesus after Mary Magdalene springs up in Luke 7:36-50.  Then in Luke 10:40, we are introduced to Mary of Bethany at the Bethany home.  Lukes Gospel gives a different description of the anointer and also gives a different timeframe for the anointing.

Its worth noting here that the Bible is not a book of strict chronology following on from Genesis.  Crucially, the events that happen in the Bible are also not recorded Chronologically.

Another problem we have is the source of information from the Gospels, in particular Luke.  St. Irenaeus, about A.D.185, writes: "Luke, also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the gospel preached by him." Luke was a close friend and confidant of St. Paul, whom Paul referred to on occasion as "the beloved physician". Luke traveled with Paul throughout his journeys, remaining with him through to the close of the apostle’s imprisonment in Rome.

When looking into St Paul, I found him to be very anti-women most notably in his letters.  Paul taught that "women are too poor of judgment to teach", they should "stay silent" and "not to have authority over men" (Timothy 2:12-14).  Paul goes on to say that women should be submissive to men (Ephesians 5:22-23) and that "women are inferior to men" (Corthinhians 11:4-16).  Paul also states that marriage to be "not good" (Cotrthinhans 7:8)  and "women should were veils to indicate their secondary status" (Corthinhans 11:4-16).

An individual who was both an eyewitness and a minister of the word that Luke likely interviewed is St. Peter.  Peter was particularly harsh on women and Mary Magdalene herself.  "Let Mary go forth from among us, for women are not worthy of life" (Gospel of Thomas).  In the Pistis Sophia, discovered in 1773 and written between the 3rd and 4th century, Peter complains that Mary is talking too much with Mary Magdalene saying "Peter makes me hesitate, I am afraid of him bacause he hate the female race"  In the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, Levi complains to Peter that he is "hot-tempered" after Peter rejects Mary's claim that Jesus had preferred to secretly talk to her rather than to the other disciples.

Could all this lead to the reason why in Luke this woman was named as a sinner and the disciples were offended by this and expressed disapproval during this event?

My view:

Names

Firstly lets look at the two important names regarding the anointing scene and my theory. Jesus the Christ from Nazareth and Mary the Magdalene from Bethany. Christ meaning the anointed one, Magdalene being the elevated one. It has been commonly known that Magdalene refers to the town of Magdala but It’s worth noting that in Roman rule in Galilee, the town now known as Magdala was actually called Taricheae.

This confusion over names and titles seem to be a common theme, not just with Mary.  I hear of confusion with Simon the Leper and Simon the Pharisee, are they one and the same or different people?  Speculation continues on that one but both two or one, play roles in the anointing scene.

Anointing

The significance of this anointing scene is interesting but what is the purpose of it?  In my view, this was a messianic marriage which was always conducted in two stages. The first (the anointing in Luke) was the legal commitment to wedlock, while the second (the later anointing in Matthew, Mark and John) was the final seal of the union. The second anointing was of particular significance for, as explained by Flavius Josephus in the 1st-century Antiquities of the Jews, the second part of the marriage ceremony was never conducted until the wife was three months pregnant.  Could all this explain these anointing scenes?  The wedding at Cana has had speculation that this could of been Mary and Jeusus' wedding but this was not the wedding ceremony it being simply the pre-marital betrothal feast.

Influence

So what was going on in Pope Gregory's head back in 591 which resulted in a false image of Mary Magdalene?  He actually got the first part correct, that all three were the same woman, but crucially he based all three on the so called sinful woman. Instead of recognising that the sinful woman was only based on a matter of opinion, he used that opportunity to denounce Mary Magdalene/Bethany and use her identity as a role model for sinful women which also gave a convenient explanation as to her presence through the bible.

How else could they explain her involvement within the narrative in an era where women were not seen in high esteem.  They portrayed her as someone who is only following Jesus through forgiveness and repentance, destroying her true identity and importance.  In following Luke's trend and many others of that time, he sealed Mary Magdalene's fate and only now is the truth starting to crawl out from the cracks of the past.  Indeed what we are discovering now is only just the beginning on finding out who Mary Magdalene really was.

Winston Churchill once said, "history is written by the victors" and in this case, St Peter was the eventual victor and thus was claimed to be the first pope.  This would give us the reason why the church is not women friendly and male dominated.  I believe that Mary Magdalene was meant to be the first pope, a female one.  What would the church and Christianity be like today as a result?