Mary Magdalene

Article

October 17, 2021

Maria Magdalena (Greek: Μαρία ἡ αγδαληνή), also Mary of Magdala - according to the Bible, living in the 1st century CE a woman from the village of Magdala (Magdallah or Migdal), now Migdal. She belonged to the circle of Jesus' disciples. She joined him after he expelled seven evil spirits from her. In the Eastern tradition of Christianity, she is portrayed as carrying oils to Christ's tomb and the witness of his resurrection, and is respected as "equal to the apostles." In the Latin tradition, for centuries she was associated with the adulterous woman from the Gospel of St. Luke. She was shown to the faithful, especially to women, as a model of a converted sinner.

Mary Magdalene in the New Testament

Mary Magdalene is mentioned twelve times in the New Testament by all four evangelists. Luke mentioned her as the first among the women freed by Jesus "from evil spirits and from diseases" that accompanied him in his public activities, next to Joan and Susanna (Lk 8, 1-3). He detailed the information about her, stating that "seven evil spirits left / her / her" (Lk 8: 2; cf. Mk 16.9; 15: 40-41). In the other synoptic Gospels, Matthew and Mark, and in St. John, Mary of Magdala appears only at the end, because of her importance in the paschal mystery of Jesus' death and resurrection, which took place in Jerusalem in Judea. Her figure is part of the Gospel of Jesus' crucifixion (Mk 15.40; Mt 27.55ff; Jn 19.25). All four also write of her in unison as the one who first came to the tomb of Jesus (Mk 16: 1; Mt 28: 1; Lk 24:10; Jn 20: 1-3). The Evangelists Mark and John assigned her the role of the first person to whom the risen Jesus appeared (cf. Mk 16, 9-10). According to the Gospel of John, Mary Magdalene herself went to the tomb in the early morning and, seeing the empty tomb, notified Simon Peter. However, the surprisingly used plural in the story: "we do not know where He is laid" (Jn 20: 1-2) is a testimony that John combined two oral traditions - his source with the message known to the synoptics about several women at the tomb. After the disciples arrived at the burial site, she remained outside. There she met Jesus, initially mistaking him for the gardener. She was also the first to announce salvation (cf. Jn 20:18).

Dialogue with the Risen One in the garden

Christ's dialogue with Mary Magdalene, included in the Gospel of John in the part about his resurrection, is very rich in theological content (cf. Jn 20: 11-18). At first, Magdalene did not recognize Jesus. As Augustyn Jankowski OSB pointed out, this fact suggests that the Risen One can be recognized only by those who look at him with the eyes of faith, thanks to the light of grace, and not by those who seek the truth only in a human way. This is the typical biblical "dialogue of disagreement." Jesus called Magdalena in Aramaic "Mary" and she called Jesus in the same language "My Master". This reaction of Maria of Magdala proves that for her the character she met was identical to the one she was accompanying and to whom she listened during his public activity, and whom she did not recognize at the beginning, due to a change. In the typical gesture of women (cf. Mt 28: 9), she threw herself at Jesus' feet, embracing them. Jesus refused to do so. As Fr Jankowski pointed out, not because "a man of this earth cannot touch a heavenly creature", because in other places the Evangelists speak of Jesus' exhortation to touch him (Lk 24:39; Jn 20:27). The reason is explained by the next words of Jesus: "for I have not yet ascended to the Father". They foreshadow the imminent Ascension of Jesus who goes to prepare a place for his disciples (cf. Jn 14: 2). He called them brothers because the resurrection deepened his relationship with his disciples. Never before in the Gospels did Jesus call his teachings so

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