A friend of mine kindly pointed out that I hadn’t done any posts recently about men in the Bible and that my blog might be more balanced if I included some male characters. I thought he might have a decent point, so I begin to think about what I could say about other stories. But I ran into a few problems… Read more
Mary Magdalene is another Bible character whose name seems to create all kinds of fanciful assertions and controversies. One need only peruse well known books of the past decade such as Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code to hear that Mary Magdalene married Jesus and bore his children, and the Catholic church tried to cover this up.
Or, look at claims by the Western church that Mary Magdalene made a living as a prostitute. Poor woman. As if being possessed by seven demons wasn’t enough, she gets remembered in tradition and depicted in artwork as a remorseful woman of sin.
Yet, neither the claim of her being a prostitute nor of her marriage to Jesus have any shred of substantial proof. Read more
Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her. John 20:17–18 (ESV)
To Read: John 20:1–18
Biblical Synopsis: Mary Magdalene stayed by Jesus’ side during his death and burial. After he was risen, she found his tomb empty and assumed his body had been stolen. But Jesus appeared to Mary near the tomb and told her to proclaim the good news of his resurrection! Read more
It seems we love scandal, gossip, and all the juicy details of other people’s lives. If this were not the case, shows like the Bachelor would probably disappear forever. Which might not be such a bad thing…but I digress.
When it comes to reading the Bible, we encounter numerous stories of sin and grace. (PTL for grace!) And sometimes, it’s not hard to make them a little more dramatic…it makes for better sermons. Other times, we cater too much to certain traditions and ideas. Or, other times, some stories simply come across to modern readers as sounding different than they really were.
The rest of this week I hope to look at a few of these stories, which I think tend to be overdramatized or misunderstood in their retelling.
Many could make the list, but here are a few examples:
- Mary Magdalene often gets referred to as a prostitute with little to no evidence to suggest this.
- Bathsheba gets referred to as a woman who seduced King David into an affair instead of a victim who was raped by a powerful king.
- The woman at the well is often called immoral instead of a virtuous woman respected by her town.
- We say Jephthah sacrificed his daughter on an alter instead of saying that she was dedicated to temple service for the rest of her life.