Mary Magdalene

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Early morning view of the Sea of Galilee from Magdala

During my time in Israel, I also spent a few nights in Magdala, on a slope just above the Sea of Galilee, the probable home town of Mary Magdalene. A number of times since being there I have come across the false narrative that she was a prostitute, for which there is no Biblical evidence.

Jesus had followers of every type of background, and that included a number of former prostitutes He had forgiven, individuals He said were closer to submitting to God’s reign than the Pharisees. The point of what I am saying here is that Mary Magdalene is not mentioned as being one of them. The Bible says she was a Jesus follower and that He cast out seven evil spirits from her (Mark 16:9, Luke 8:2). The main other place she is mentioned is as an eyewitness of the crucifixion and the resurrection.

The unproven idea she was a prostitute is a later tradition. In the middle ages (591), Pope Gregory the Great equated Mary Magdalene with the woman Jesus forgave in Luke 7:36-50, partly because Mary is first mentioned as a Jesus follower in the next passage, Luke 8:1-3. And even here, it just mentions she was healed of having seven evil spirits.

In The Da Vinci Code Dan Brown propagated the conspiracy theory that she was called a prostitute by the Catholic church to try to dismiss her because of the idea held by a few that Jesus had a “special” relationship with her. But at least Brown did get one thing right. There is no evidence she was a prostitute.

Despite the fact that the Bible talks about her as a Jesus follower and witness to the most important events in His life, it is sad that so many “Christian” films and sermons still portray her as a prostitute. Jesus did a great thing in her life, freeing her from seven evil spirits, and she followed Him the rest of her life and was a witness to the resurrection, telling others about Him. So the fact is that she is a wonderful example for us to follow.

 

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