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A continued interest and associations with Mary Magdalene provided for further examination. The relevance of her time as a example of inspiration to all who still find their paths of sincerity and goodwill marked by scandal and controversy. The following personal journal entry may serve to clarify this interest.
One of the most interesting and inspirational women of the bible, is Mary Magdalene. Her apparent dedication to Jesus despite ridicule, jealously and un-acceptance amongst his friends can be related to by many women throughout history. The importance of whether she was a prostitute, Jesus’ wife or both becomes less relevant than the conflicts she faced in her times and her steadfast dedication to Him, regardless of definition of relationship between and degree of intimacy expressed.
Many women throughout history and today find themselves judged in societal situations in which they have to determine their dedication and faith within their relationship and would find Mary Magdalene’s decisions and actions inspirational and reassuring to see that they are not alone in their situation.
Mary Magdalene’s influence and role in the bible seem to be one of the best influences in humanize Jesus. Showing us some the personal and emotional challenges that Jesus faced as a person and therefore having his life experience expressed in a way everyone, at some point in their lives can relate to.
While the recount says that all of the disciples fled, out of fear, when Jesus was crucified, it is only Mary Magdalene that is recounted in all 4 versions of the Gospel to be “near” or by Jesus’ side during this horrific experience. Guess you know who your friends are when the chips are down.
This brief recap of a previous journal entry was used to outline what is recognized as the most personally relevant stories of the bible and the observations regarding them. The following stories of Mary Magdalene from the bible are as powerful and relevant to the lives of many and in addition work to help me appreciate, understand and complete my initial observations.
The following is taken from http://www.womeninthebible.net/2.2.Mary_Magdalene.htm
Mary Magdalene’s story is contained in four different events:
Mary Magdalene as a disciple of Jesus (Luke 8:1-3)
Mary is mentioned as the woman whom Jesus cured of an unspecified illness. She was expelled of seven different demons. The number seven may have been used to emphasize the severity of the illness. She led a group of women who provided for Jesus and his followers from their own financial resources.
The following is quoted from http://www.biblebb.com/files/kss/kss-mmag.htm
“She was committed.
MAR 8:34, 35 “Then he called the crowd to him along with his
disciples and said: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny
himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to
save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and
for the gospel will save it.”
- she had followed Him from Galilee, her home (Mat 27:55; MAR
15:41; LUK 23:49).
LUK 23:49 “But all those who knew him, including the women
who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance,
watching these things.”
MAT 27:55, 56 “Many women were there, watching from a
distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee…. Among them
were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and
the mother of Zebedee’s sons.”
- she cared for Jesus’ needs (MAT 27:55; MAR 15:41).
MAT 27:55 “Many women were there, watching from a distance.
They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs.
Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and
Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.”
MAR 15:41 “In Galilee these women had followed him and cared
for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to
Jerusalem were also there.”
*she gave whatever she could to further God’s cause-“
This is a demonstration of Jesus’ acceptance of the independent woman. This was revolutionary in and of itself given the perceptions of woman of the times.
Mary at the crucifixion (Mark 15:40-41, Luke 23:49, Matthew 27:55-56, John 19:25) In each of the four gospels of the crucifixion Mary was present, either standing at a distance with other women, or standing near the cross.
Mary prepared Jesus’ body for burial (Luke 23:55-56, Matthew 27:61)
Mary watched as Jesus’ body was sealed inside the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.
She could confirm that he was really dead. She and the other women prepared the spices needed for proper burial of a body.
Jews followed the custom of burial in natural and artificial caves. Generally only the rich used tombs, with the poor using pits, cisterns, caves, and earthen graves outside their cities. Tombs were located in gardens attached to homes, within city walls, on elevated sites, on hillsides, and in caves (natural and hand hewn).
- this information is from “The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible”, vol. 5, pg.772.
Prophets and kings were buried within the city limits; everyone else was buried outside the city limits. Wealthy tombs were often cut into rock, some containing several chambers. The entrance was closed by rolling around rolling-stone down an inclined plane in front of the mouth of the sepulcher.
- this information is from “Manners and Customs of Bible Lands”, by Fred H. Wright, Moody Press, co. 1953, pgs. 144,145.
4 Mary witnesses the resurrection (Mark 16:1-11, Luke 24:1-11, Matthew 28:1-10, John 20:1-18). Mary found that Jesus’ body was no longer in the tomb. She received a message from an angel and was the first person to see the risen Jesus. She was thus the first witness of the resurrection.”
The ethical cultural and political environment surrounding the people of this time played a strong influence on the interpretation of Mary Magdalene’s life. Even with the stark contrast of today’s environment of Middle America the relevance of interpretation of the power and influence of this women offers as an example for today’s woman.
The people of Jesus’ time lived in a state occupied by Roman rule, law and allegiance to Cesar, King of the Roman Empire. The Jewish state in this region was allowed certain amount of religious tolerance provided that legal and economic sanctions were upheld by the Jews with regard to Roman rule.
The following quote is taken from http://www.womeninthebible.net/2.2.Mary_Magdalene.htm
“Greek philosophy was greatly admired at the time of Jesus, and it had a profound impact on the way that people saw their world. One of the greatest philosophers, Plato, proposed the theory of dualism, suggesting that everything in the cosmos had an equal and opposite other. This theory had a profound impact on the way that women were viewed, and it was not to women’s advantage. ‘Woman’ was placed in a category containing elements that were viewed as negative:
Civilization was the ideal; Nature was mistrusted and potentially dangerous. Logic and reason were admired, and emotion was to be subordinated. Goodness was always preferable to evil. Light, especially in the pre-industrial world, was preferred to darkness
These are examples only, but they show that Platonic dualism placed women in a negative category. They were seen as closer to the natural/animal world than men. By nature they were irrational and untrustworthy, and therefore unfit to make their own decisions and govern their own lives. They had to be looked after and controlled, never treated as equals.
This differed from the traditional Jewish way of looking at the world, which saw all things in creation as integrated and complementary, rather than as opposites of each other. An example of this is the creation story of Eve, which relates that the first woman was created from a rib taken by God from Adam’s side, thereby suggesting that a man could never be fully complete unless he was in partnership with a woman.”
Jewish and Jewish/Christian women resisted the ideas of Platonic dualism, which patronized them and diminished their status. While Christianity remained a Jewish sect, the status ofwomen within the Christian communities was high.
But as the ideas of Christianity moved out into the Gentile, Hellenised world, the first Christians found they had to use the Greek philosophical framework to explain their beliefs and be accepted.So Jesus’ original ideal of mutual respect between the sexes was watered down and changed. Women found they were given roles that were acceptable in the outside, Hellenistic culture. In doing so, the Christian church stepped back from the radical ideals of the first Jewish/Christians”.
The following excerpt was taken from http://www.watton.org/wftk/teaching/mary_magdalene.htm
Jesus sees women as they were created – equal reflectors of God’s image. God created us in his image – we mirror a family resemblance of Him. 2 Cor.3:18 “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
This doesn’t mean our physical nature but our spiritual and moral nature. We are able to communicate. We are creative, and that gives us joy and satisfaction. We experience emotions and feelings. We know the difference between right and wrong. We are responsible for our actions. Even though the original relationship between God and man was cut by the fall, God has pursued his children through the ages, sending his son Jesus so that we might be reconciled to God and become his sons and daughters. His image is reflected in us. Because of Jesus the image is brought back into focus so that his glory shines from the reflection. Jesus is in each one of us, you and me, and His glory shines out. ” This examination of Mary Magdalene’s life and times has offered clarity in relating to those hardships and challenges and has served as an inspiration to women of all times.
Biblical References have been noted as used throughout this document.
- Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible”, vol. 5, pg.772.
- “Manners and Customs of Bible Lands”, by Fred H. Wright, Moody Press, co. 1953, pgs. 144,145.
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