By Matthew Ficarelli
Mary Magdalene, one of the most controversial women in history. She is the famous prostitute out of the Gospels, or was she? Is there any evidence proving that she was a lady of the night.
The best way to view this is to look at it like a detective would attempt to solve a case. We must go through the only evidence that we have of her and sort out what it really states. We must start at the best source we have, the Bible. Mary Magdalene is only mentioned 13 times in the whole Bible (Matthew 27:56, 61; 28:1; Mark 15:40, 47; 16: 9; Luke 8:2; 24:10; John 19:25; 20:1, 11, 16, 18). From these 13 mentions of her, we know that she is a follower of Jesus, and that 7 Devils were cast out of her (7 is the number of Spiritual perfection). There is no single reference to her ever being a prostitute. How then did this rumor start? More importantly, why did it start? Was it a cover up from the early church to hide the fact that Jesus Christ actually had a wife? Jesus Christ did walk the earth as a man (For more check out Jesus Christ: The Man), so it is a possibility. Let’s get back to our detective work and really see if this theory holds water.
Lets take a look at the famed “disciple whom Jesus loved” of the Gospel of John. There are only 6 references to this “unknown disciple” in the all of the Bible, and they all occur in the Gospel of John. Most scholars believe that John was the author and the “beloved disciple” of Jesus. They believe this because of John 21:24. “This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.”
This unnamed disciple is in fact the author of the book of “John”. Why would you state that “this is the disciple that wrote and testifieth of these things, and not sign your name? Is it to hide your identity? Let’s take a look at each of the verses in John that state this claim.
John 13:23. Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. 24. Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake. 25. He then lying on Jesus' breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it?
This is the first verse where we are introduced to the disciple whom Jesus loved, and it is the one that causes the most suspicion. Why would John or any male disciple lean on Jesus at any time, let alone the last supper? Would this spot not be reserved for Jesus’ wife? If you knew that you were going to be betrayed, beaten, and then die in a few hours, wouldn’t you want to be close with the one whom you have an intimate relationship with?
John 18:15. And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest. 16. But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter.
Here we have Simon Peter and the other disciple following Jesus to the palace after Jesus was apprehended. It is kind of strange that there are two people following Jesus to the palace when the three other Gospels only mention that it was Simon Peter who followed behind (Matthew 26:58, Mark 14:54, Luke 22:54). It is even stranger that right before Simon Peter follows Jesus in verse 58 of Matthew 26, verse 56 states “But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled. How could John follow Jesus back when it says all of the disciples except Simon Peter ran away?
John 19:25. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. 26. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! 27. Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.
Before we look at this verse, let’s look at who else was there from the other Gospels. The only other references we have are in Matthew 25:56, and Mark 15:40. From these three verses, we can now compile a list of who was at the crucifixion - Mary, mother of James and Joses, Mother of Zebedee’s children, Mary Magdalene, Disciple whom Jesus loved, and many other women. Nowhere does it say that John, or any disciple was there at the crucifixion. Remember as we just read earlier, all of the disciples fled in fear from persecution. Jesus then says in verse 27 to “behold thy mother” to the disciple. Is it possible that the pronoun was changed to say that “he” took Mary back to the house? It would make sense that Jesus, while looking at his mother, said to Mary Magdalene his wife, “behold thy mother!” Now back 2,000 years ago, if the husband dies, then care of the wife goes to the firstborn son. Then if the son dies, care was traditionally always passed on to a male. How then can we say that Jesus passed care off to Mary Magdalene? We must remember that Jesus came to break all the rules. He taught to love everybody and we are all equal.
John 20:2. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.
Let’s take a look at the Gospels to see who else was there who discovered the empty sepulchre. In Matthew 28:1, 8; Mark 16:1; and Luke 24:10, we see that Mary mother of James, Salome, Joanna, Mary Magdalene, and other women were there to witness the empty tomb. So we see there are at least 2 Mary’s present. If Mary Magdalene was the wife of Jesus, is it possible that she stayed behind due to grief of not only loosing her Messiah, but also her husband? Could in verse 1 of John 20 been changed to say “Mary Magdalene”, as opposed to just “Mary”? Another fact we must take into account is who ran back to the sepulchre in verse 3 of John 20. We have Peter and that other disciple, that’s it. The only other reference in the Gospels is in Luke 24:12, which says that just Peter alone, not John ran back to the sepulchre.
John 21:7. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.
John 21:20. Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?
Here in John chapter 21 we have two more references to the disciple whom Jesus loved. Notice in verse 20, the author reiterates the fact that they leaned on his breast at supper.
When we look at the Gospel accounts of Mary Magdalene we see that it gives little reference about who she really is. We know she is a follower of Jesus and that 7 devils were cast out of her. Why then would Jesus choose a woman of little importance, according to the Gospels, to make his first appearance to after he has been raised from the dead?
Mark 16:9. Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.
John 20:18. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.
In John chapter 20, there is a whole dialogue between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Why would John record all that was said when it is barley even mentioned in the other Gospels? Like in John 21:24 it says “This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things.”
John 20:1. The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. 2. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. 3. Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. 4. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. 5. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. 6. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, 7. And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. 8. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. 9. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. 10. Then the disciples went away again unto their own home. 11. But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, 12. And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.13. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. 14. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, saith unto him, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. 15. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. 16. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. 17. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. 18. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.
Why such detail in going to the sepulchre? Why did the other disciple outrun Peter? Why such emphasis on outrunning Peter to the sepulchre? Who wouldn’t want to see first hand more then the wife of the deceased? How could John have known that Mary thought that Jesus was the gardener?
In John chapter 18, we have the only recorded dialogue between Jesus and Pilate in the Gospels.
John 18:33. Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? 34. Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? 35. Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? 36. Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. 37. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. 38. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.
How could John have been there to hear the dialogue if all the disciples fled in fear(Matthew 26:56; Mark 14:50). The author of John says in John 20:19, that the disciples were locked in their houses due to fear of persecution. Why then would John go to the trial of Jesus which is surrounded by all the Pharisees, Roman soldiers, and an angry mob?
The Nag Hammadi Library is a collection of early Christian texts that were unearthed in 1945. These writings were however rejected at the Council of Nicaea and not included in the canon of the Bible as we know today. This then raises the question, why weren’t some of these texts included in the Bible? Now some of the Nag Hammadi Library contained texts from a branch of Christianity called Gnosticism, which when you read them, you will know why they weren’t included. But when you read some of the texts such as the Gospels and other books from the disciples (which have recorded teachings from Jesus), you wonder why they weren’t included in the first place. When you read the Gospel of Philip, it clearly states the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene was more then a student/teacher relationship. Even Mary Magdalene herself had written a book that was rejected at the Council of Nicaea but still managed to make it into our hands.
Gospel Of Philip
“There were three who always walked with the lord: Mary his mother and her sister and Magdalene, the one who was called his companion. His sister and his mother and his companion were each a Mary”
“And the companion of the [ ] Mary Magdalene. [ ] loved her more than all the disciples and used to kiss her often on her [ ]. The rest of the disciples [ ] They said to him, “Why do you love her more than all of us?” The savior answered and said to them, “ Why do I not love you like her?” When a blind man and one who sees are both together in darkness, they are no different from one another. When the light comes, then he who sees will see the light, and he who is blind will remain in darkness.”
Gospel Of Mary
“ Peter said to Mary, “Sister, we know that the Savior loved you more than the rest of women.”
“ But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her? Surely the Savior knows her very well. That is why he loved her more than us.
Could the other disciple be Lazarus? Some scholars believe that he is the next likely candidate next to John who wrote the Gospel. They arrived at this theory from the following verse -
John 11:1. Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. 2. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) 3. Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.
What they don’t realize is what verse 5 states…
John 11:5. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.
A very weak argument considering only two verses away it states that Jesus loved all three of them.
Was Mary Magdalene Jesus’ wife? Was she the “disciple whom Jesus loved” who testified and wrote the accounts of the Gospel of “John”? Is she the victim of a cover up from the early church to hide the theory of Jesus’ divinity? Unfortunately there are no references in the Bible that say she is. But when we look at the evidence that is presented here, it clearly speaks for itself.
All Scripture Taken Form King James Version