Mary Magdalene as Mrs. Jesus

Mary Magdalene as Mrs. Jesus

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You can tell it’s almost Christmas by observing any one of three things: 1. lots of cars in the mall parking lots; 2. inane secular Christmas songs blaring from the mall loud-speakers, and 3. even more inane articles on Jesus in the media. Foremost in this year’s inevitable crop of inanity is an article by Simcha Jacobovici, published in (where else) the Huffington Post. It is provocatively titled (with capital letters for emphasis), “Jesus’ Marriage to Mary the Magdalene Is Fact, Not Fiction”.

Unpacking and refuting every absurdity in it would be more trouble than it is worth. Mr. Jacobovici laments in his article that the “paradigm-shifting discovery” he shares with us resulted in “nothing” from the scholarly world, so that “between 1980 and 1996 no archaeologists even reported the find”. Similarly when he produced his 2007 documentary The Last Tomb of Jesus and co-authored his book The Jesus Family Tomb “to propel the find onto the headlines”, the “world’s reaction” was “again, nothing”. That may give thoughtful people their first clue as to the value of his scholarship and his “find”. It looks as if the archaeologists writing between 1980 and 1996 were no more inclined to waste their time examining nonsense than I am.

But in the spirit of the season, I will offer a brief reply to one of Mr. Jacobovici’s arguments. In one part of his disjointed piece he writes, “the Gospels agree that it was Mary the Magdalene who went early Sunday morning to wash and anoint Jesus’ crucified body (Mark 16:1)…What the Gospels are telling us is that Mary the Magdalene went to Jesus’ tomb to prepare his body for burial. That’s the Gospels, not me. Then and now, no woman would touch the naked body of a dead Rabbi, unless she was family. Jesus was whipped, beat [sic] and crucified. No woman would wash the blood and sweat off his private parts unless she was his wife.”

Two things. First of all, “what the Gospels are telling us” is that the “blood and sweat” was “washed off his private parts” by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus at the time of His burial (Matthew 28:57f, Mark 15:42f, Luke 23:50f, John 19:38f), not by Mary Magdalene. The subsequent visit of Mary Magdalene to the tomb was not to wash off anything after Jesus had been whipped, beaten, and crucified, but simply as a devotional act. The Lord’s body was not naked, but was by then wrapped in a linen sheet. Secondly, Mary Magdalene came to perform this devotional act along with other women (known to Orthodoxy as “the myrrh-bearers”), women such as Mary the mother of James, and Salome (Mark 16:1).

Presumably these women were not all married to Jesus. It is obvious to anyone who has actually read the Gospel texts that the women came not to perform the duties of family preparing Jesus for burial, but simply as disciples who loved Him. The visit of Mary Magdalene to the tomb proves precisely nothing about anything.

Finally, also in the spirit of the season, I would like to offer a free and unsolicited piece of advice so that one can readily identify nonsense in the future and separate fact from inane fiction. Any new “discovery” or “find” which involves giving credence to “lost” literature or Gnostic Gospels, or which involves “paradigm-shifting” archaeological finds may be safely discounted from the start. Real scholars know this. It is only film-makers who get excited about such things in order to promote their films and sell their books.

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Posted by the Orthodox Christian Network.  You can find the Orthodox Christian Network on Google+.

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Fr. Lawrence Farley

Fr. Lawrence was formerly an Anglican priest, graduating from Wycliffe College in Toronto, Canada in 1979 before serving Anglican parishes in central Canada. He converted to Orthodoxy in 1985 and spent two years at St. Tikhon’s Seminary in South Canaan, Pennsylvania. After ordination he traveled to Surrey, B.C. to begin a new mission under the O.C.A., St. Herman of Alaska Church.

The Church has grown from its original twelve members, and now owns a building in Langley, B.C., where they worship each Sunday. The community has planted a number of ‘daughter churches’, including parishes in Victoria, Comox and Vancouver.

Fr. Lawrence has written a number of books, published by Conciliar Press, including the Bible Study Companion Series, with verse-by-verse commentaries on the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Romans, 1-2 Corinthians, the Early Epistles, the Prison Epistles, the Pastoral Epistles, the Catholic Epistles, and the Book of Revelation, as well as a volume about how to read the Old Testament , entitled The Christian Old Testament. He has also written a commentary on the Divine Liturgy, entitled, Let Us Attend: A Journey through the Orthodox Divine Liturgy. SVS Press has published his book on Feminism and Tradition, examining such topics as the ordination of women and deaconesses. He has also written a synaxarion (lives of Saints), published by Light and Life, entitled A Daily Calendar of Saints, recently updated and revised and available through his blog. He has also written a series of Akathists, published by Alexander Press, including Akathist to Jesus, Light to Those in Darkness, Akathist to the Most-Holy Theotokos, Daughter of Zion, A New Akathist to St. Herman of Alaska, Akathist: Glory to the God who Works Wonders (a rehearsal of the works of God from Genesis to Revelation). His articles have appeared in the Canadian Orthodox Messenger (the official diocesan publication of the Archdiocese of Canada), as well as in the Orthodox Church (the official publication of the O.C.A.), in The Handmaiden and AGAIN magazine (from Conciliar Press).

Fr. Lawrence has a podcast each weekday on Ancient Faith Radio, the Coffee Cup Commentaries. He has given a number of parish retreats in the U.S. and Canada, as well as being a guest-lecturer yearly at the local Regent College, Vancouver. He can also be found on his personal blog, Straight from the Heart.

Fr. Lawrence lives in Surrey with his wife, Donna. They have two daughters, and three grandchildren.