Women of the Gospels

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					Women of the Gospels

 Caravaggio, Martha and Mary Magdalen, c.1598 (Detroit, Institute of Fine Arts)
      Hidden History

Scarcity of sources in ancient
  – Loss (recent finds:
            Dead Sea Scrolls,
            Nag Hammadi Library)
  – Question of reliability
  – Values of recorders:   

    Who/what was considered worth saving?
    Biblical Women’s History:
   Victims of Silence and Denial
• Denial of physical presence
   – Case in point: feeding the 5,000
   – Synagogue service required min. of 10 men
• Denial of testimony (no validity in Hebrew court of
• Denial of education (“The words of the Torah will
  be destroyed in the fire sooner than be taught to women”-
Looking for
 • An effort must be made to “uncover traces
   of a significant women’s presence and
   examine indicative and revealing pieces of a
   far wider reality that lies hidden and, like an
   underground stream, from time to time
   trickles out of the written texts, then comes
   up to the surface” (Ricci 23)
                           Jesus’ Travels
Jesus’ Travels
     Jesus’ Ministry in Galilee

• Luke 8:1-3
 Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages,
 proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of
 God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women
 who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary,
 called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,
 and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and
 Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of
 their resources.
                             Jesus in Jerusalem

• Matthew 27:55-56
 Many women were also there, looking on from a distance; they had
 followed Jesus from Galilee and had provided for him. Among them
 were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and
 the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

• Mark 15:40-41
 There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were
 Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of
 Joses, and Salome. These used to follow him and provided for him
 when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had
 come up with him from Jerusalem.
Women at the Crucifixion

 • Matt: Mary Magdalene, and Mary the
 mother of James and Joseph, and the mother
 of the sons of Zebedee (Matt 27.55-56)
 • Mark: Mary Magdalene, and Mary the
 mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. (Mark 15.40-41)

 • Luke: All his acquaintance including the women who had followed
    him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things. (Luke
 • John: his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
    and Mary Magdalene (John 19.25)
   Women Witnesses of the Empty Tomb
• Matt 27:61
Mary Magdalene & the other Mary

• Mark 16:1-8
Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother
of James, and Salome

• Luke 24:1-10
The women were terrified and bowed
their facers to the ground . . . Now it
was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary
the mother of James, and the other
women with them

• John 20:1-2 Mary Magdalene
came to the tomb
    Women May Be Present But
• Matthew and Mark speak of women
  following Jesus in Galilee only in
  the closing stages of their narratives,
  but clearly numbers of women were
  accompanying him all along and
  supporting his ministry.

• Why the delay in mentioning
  women followers? (except in Luke)
      Androcentric Environment

• Little interest in presence
of women
• Tendency to ignore them
unless exceptional
circumstances arise
• When men are present,
women need not be noticed
or mentioned.
                                "Saint Mary Magdalene approaching the
                                Sepulchre" Gian Girolamo Savoldo, ca. 1530.
     Women’s Witness Becomes
        Important When?
• When men are absent.

• And when where male witnesses absent?
The Disappearance of the Disciples

• Matt. 26:56 “Then all the disciples deserted him and fled”
• Mark 14:50 “All of them deserted him and fled”
• The redactors, unable to cite the witness of the
  male disciples, are forced to mention the women
• Questions to consider:
   – . . . .What if the male disciples had stayed for
     the crucifixion? . . .
   – . . . . Were women at the Last Supper?
                                            The Marys

                                                                               Mary by Louis Glanzman
Mary, the Mother of God by Louis Glanzman

                                            Mary Magdalene by Louis Glanzman
    Mary Magdalene
• Original home?
   – Magdala in Galilee
• Special healing?
   – Jesus cast out seven demons
• Present with Jesus in what cases?
   – Followed Jesus wherever he went
     (Lk 8:2)
   – Present at crucifixion (Mrk 15:40;
     John 19:25)                          Magdalene of the Night Light : Georges de la Tour

   – Observed Jesus’ burial (Mrk 15:47)
   – Observed resurrected Jesus (Matt.
     28:1; Mrk 16:1; Lk 24:10; John 20)
 Mary Magdalene & the “Gardener”


• Apostola apostolarum?
  – Garden of Eden restored?
• Importance of their
  – “Who are you looking for?”
  – “Mary”
  – “Do not hold to me”
                                 Noli Me Tangere by Carravaggio 1625
    What the Bible Does NOT Say
      About Mary Magdalene
•   Prostitute
•   Anointed Jesus’ feet
•   Jesus’ wife
•   Fled to Southern

to be continued . . .
                           Mary Magdalene by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Other Women in the Gospels

      Henryk Siemiradzki. Christ and the Samaritan Woman. 1890.
 Proper Social Convention      Unconventionality
              Peter’s Mother-in-Law
                     Mark 1:29-34
• Conventional features?
  – Identified by relationship to male family member
  – Male family members represent her to Jesus
• Unconventional features?
  – Jesus goes to her room and touches her
  – She “ministers” to Jesus-same verb used when angels
    “ministered” to him in Mark 1:15
     Social Impropriety        Propriety and Order
          The Woman in the Crowd
                     Mark 5: 24b-43
• Her problem?
  – “Unclean” (12 years bleeding
• Her violations of social propriety?
  – Respectable women do not travel
    unattended by male family member
  – Respectable women do not touch
    men outside family                   Woman with Hemorrhage by Glanzman

• How does Jesus supply ALL her needs:
  – “Daughter” and healing
  Lowly Girl
  vs. High Priest
   Mark 14:66-72
   •Jesus interrogated by high
   priest in court
•Who is in lower courtyard?
                                          Gerrit van Honthorst The Denial of St. Peter,c. 1620-
   •Maid stares at and questions          1625

• Ironies?
   – High priest rejects truth of Jesus’ divinity
   – Lowly maid insists on truth of Peter’s discipleship
              The Samaritan Woman
Culmination of Biblical Meetings at Wells
                                               John 4:4-42
                                      • How does Jesus transform
                                        symbolism of water?
                                         – New understanding of
                                           marriage, fertility, and
                                      • How does Jesus shock the
                                         – Defies conventions of
                                           talking to women &
TheSamaritanWomen by Louis Glanzman        interacting w/Samaritans
End of Part I
                                            The Marys

                                                                               Mary by Louis Glanzman
Mary, the Mother of God by Louis Glanzman

                                            Mary Magdalene by Louis Glanzman
 the Mother of Jesus
Probably of tribe of Levi (cousin Elizabeth-
    Luke 1:5,36)
Engaged to Joseph (tribe of Judah)
Home in Nazareth (Galilee); traveled to
    Bethlehem; escaped to Egypt;
    returned to Nazareth
Scolds Jesus at the temple (Luke 2:48)
Asked for help at wedding in Cana (John 2:1-
Had other children to care for (Matt 13:55)
Tries to take Jesus home (Mark 3:20-31)
                                               Artemesia Gentileschi
Stands at foot of cross (John 19:25-27)
Was present at Pentecost (Actsd 1:14)
                     Mary and Martha

• Sisters of Lazarus
• Home?
   – Bethany, near
• Martha’s stories?
   – Complains to
     Jesus (Luke 10:38-42)   Raising of Lazarus by Guercino
   – Testimony of faith
     (John 11:27)

                                                              Martha by Louis Glanzman
                 Mary of Bethany

• Family?
   – Sister of Martha and Lazarus
• Her stories?
   – Neglected household duties
     (Luke 10:38-42)
   – Upset with Jesus when he did
     not come (John 11:20,28-33)
   – Anointed Jesus at her home in
     Bethany (John 12:1-8)           Raising of Lazarus, by Guercino
                                                 c. 1619
     Mary Anointing Jesus
                                  John 12:1-8
                        Mary of Bethany at home
                           w/Lazarus & Martha
                         Jesus en route to Jerusalem fo
                        Costly nard--extravagent love
                        Judas complains
                        Foreshadows death &burial
                        Foreshadows Jesus’
                           footwashing for disciples
                           (John 13:1-20)
                        “New Commandment”
Courtesy Denim & Lace
       Anonymous Anointings
        Mark 14.3-9 and Matthew 26.6-13
• Unnamed woman at home of Simon the
  Leper in Bethany
• Anoints Jesus’ head
• Expensive, aromatic oil in alabaster vessel.
• Disciples complain of waste
                 Luke 7:36-50
• Sinful woman of the city anoints Jesus’ feet
  at home of a Pharisee.
   Mary Magdalene
in the Gnostic Gospels

 Karen King (Harvard Divinity
   School): The Gospel of
   Mary of Magdala

 Elaine Pagels: The Gnostic
   Gospels and Beyond Belief:
   The Secret Gospel of
  Nag Hammadi Library

• Nag Hammadi Library:
an earthenware jar, 1945, Egypt
• 13 leather-bound mss. “codices” of 52 books dating
  from 350-400 A.D. (140 A.D.)
• Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Philip, etc.
• Gnostic: Insight, knowledge
• Early Christian group with different teachings later
  considered heretical, therefore suppressed
• Affirmative of women’s role in spiritual community
                      Mary Magdalene in Gnostic

• Mary Magdalene: close companion of Jesus
• Gospel of Philip: Jesus “used to kiss” her often
• Disciple, evangelist, teacher, mystic (visions) who had
  esoteric knowledge of Jesus’ teaching
• MM rivals Peter for leadership of the early church; Peter
  & Andrew challenge her authority
• Peter: “Did he [Jesus] really speak to a woman secretly,
  without our knowledge, and not openly? Are we to turn
  and all listen to her? Did he prefer her to us?”
      Pope Gregory’s Decision

She whom Luke calls the sinful woman, whom John calls
Mary, we believe to be the Mary from whom seven devils
were ejected according to Mark. And what did these seven
devils signify, if not all the vices? . . . It is clear, brothers,
that the woman previously used the unguent to perfume her
flesh in forbidden acts. What she therefore displayed more
scandalously, she was now offering to God in a more
praiseworthy manner . . . She turned the mass of her
crimes to virtues, in order to serve God entirely in
penance, for as much as she had wrongly held God in
 --Revoked       by Catholic Church in 1969--
               Miscellaneous Marys

• Mary, mother of James & Joseph (Matthew) or Joses
  (Mark), witness resurrection, burial, and empty tomb
• Mary, the mother of the sons of Zebadee, James & John
  (Matthew 20:20-23; 27:56), asks Jesus to let her sons sit at
  his right and left hands in heaven. In Mark, the sons ask
  for themselves.
• “The other Mary” (Matthew 27:61 & 28:1)--could be one
  of the Marys above or another one)
• Mary, the wife of Clopas (John 19:25), stands at the cross.
• Murphey, Cullen. The Word According to Eve, 1998.
• Newsom, Carol A. and Sharon H. Ringe. Women’s Bible Commentary.
• Ricci, Carla. Mary Magdalene and Many Others.
• “At the Foot of the Cross” The Society of Saint Mary Magdalene.
• Footwashing: alabasterbox2.html
• Glanzman, Louis :
• Jesus Travels Map:
• Nag Hammadi Library manuscript:
                » next page
                            Bib. Cont.
• “Raising of Lazarus” Detail by Guercino 1619
• “Saint Mary Magdalene approaching the Sepulchre" by Gian Girolamo
  Savoldo listenwv/9.html
• “Deposition from the Cross” and “Noli me tangere” by Corregio and
  “Martha and Mary Magdalene” by Caravaggio: from Web Gallery of Art