Thursday, January 3, 2008

Where In the Bible Is Mary Magdalene a Prostitute?

I was re-reading through the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) recently and realized something for the first time when I came across the verses of St. John 8 (KJV):

2 Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. 3 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, 4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” 6 This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.

Because of years of listening to sloppy preaching and biased theories, I had always assumed that this unnamed woman caught in adultery was Mary Magdalene, one of Jesus' top (female) disciples.

I had also always been taught that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute...and had heard many teachings that this woman caught in adultery was actually a prostitute. Confusing? It should be, because most of it is a lie.

To get to the truth of it -- using the Holy Bible alone, as it is the only true Word of GOD that we have today -- I examined several key verses. It didn't take much time at all to discover the truth.

First off, Mary Magdalene is first mentioned in Matthew 27:56 "among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses,[a] and the mother of Zebedee’s sons"... which describes the disciples who were watching Jesus' crucifixion. So, this is Mary Magdalene's introduction -- a dedicated, loving disciple of the Christ.

We learn a little about M. M.'s history in Mark 16: 19 "Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons." Two important things are revealed here. One, we learn that Jesus and M.M. met when the Messiah freed her from demonic possession. Lastly, the fact that M.M. was the first disciple to see the resurrected Jesus says a lot. Not even Jesus' mother Mary got to see him first... he appeared to one of his disciples...whom I can only infer from this text was a very important person to him. No, I'm not going the 'Da Vinci' code route by insinuating that there was some unrighteous intimate relationship between this disciple and the Son of GOD. I'm simply saying, just as Jesus favored Peter to help lead/create the Church, he may have first appeared in his resurrected state to M.M. for a reason.

So, to summarize where we are right now, Mary Magdalene had previously been possessed by demons; watched Jesus' crucifixion; and was the first to see him after his resurrection. No where has there been any indication that she was a prostitute or adulterer.

Before we continue, there is one more thing that I should mention. Mary was apparently from the town of Magdala, which is why she was called a Magdalene. However, there is some evidence that shows that even the name of the town was translated incorrectly. The Jewish Talmud (the books covering the law, etc. in the Old Testament) and other historical references indicate that the town was mostly likely called "Migdal" or "Magadan" (Greek manuscripts). Despite all of that, the town's name was ascribed to Mary just to let others know which Mary this was...since Mary was an extremely popular name during that time. As a matter of fact, it notes in the concordance of my Bible that there were seven persons named Mary in the New Testament, and it describes M.M. as 'A Galilean follower of Jesus.'

I would also like to note that the term 'prostitute' doesn't appear anywhere in the Holy Bible (KJV) except for in Lev. 19:29. 'Harlot' however is mentioned plenty of times, but nowhere in the Gospels do any of its usages make reference to or speak of M.M. or anyone in particular for that matter. It's simply mentioned as one would talk about a group of people, such as saying 'publicans' or 'tax collectors', you'd say 'harlots.'

Finally, this 'woman caught in adultery' was never given a name, nor do we know her town of origin. Jesus simply refused to condemn her and told her to sin no more. No mention of demons, Magdala, Mary or the like. This was just one of the many people in the Gospels that Jesus used to glorify His Father GOD.

So who was Mary of Magdala? -- She was a devout disciple of Jesus who helped support his ministry financially and I'm sure she did her part in helping to spread the Truth. She wasn't an adulterer. She wasn't a prostitute. She had been demon possessed before meeting Jesus, was healed, and took up her cross and followed him.

Where did this awful slander come from? Why would anyone want to purport such a lie and misconception? Is it just carelessness/ laziness that people continue to believe such a false teaching of Mary Magdalene? I don't know the answers to these questions, but considering Christian history, specifically in terms of the Catholic Church, I don't find it unlikely that these men who made the decisions of what books would enter the Bible, conducted the demonic Inquisitions, etc., would have an interest in discounting one of Jesus' top disciples -- a woman. After all, what were the other twelve's sin? Are we to believe that Peter, Thomas, Matthew, etc. were all blemish-free before Jesus? I think not.

And I guess I should note that I'm not so passionate about rectifying the image of M.M. because I think former prostitutes are deplorable creatures. Quite the contrary, because we are all sinners, and as far as I've read in the Bible, GOD is no respecter of persons when it comes to judging sinners. Sin is sin, and can all be forgiven...except for sins against the Holy Spirit of course.

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