New Testament people named Mary

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The Three Marys at the Tomb by Mikołaj Haberschrack, 15th century

The name Mary (Greek Μαριαμ or Μαρια) appears 61 times in the New Testament, in 53 different verses.[1] It was the single most popular female name among Palestinian Jews of the time, borne by about one in five women,[2] and most of the New Testament references to Mary provide only the barest identifying information. Scholars and traditions therefore differ as to how many distinct women these references represent and which of them refer to the same person.

A common Protestant tradition holds that there are six different women named as Mary in the New Testament: Mary, mother of Jesus; Mary Magdalene; Mary of Bethany; Mary mother of James the younger; Mary mother of John Mark; and Mary of Rome.[3][4]

A common Roman Catholic tradition includes six New Testament saints called Mary: Mary, mother of Jesus; Mary Magdalene; Mary, mother of James and Joses;[5] (Mary) Salome (who is also identified as the mother of James and Joseph the sons of Zebedee); Mary of Clopas; Mary of Bethany, sister of Martha and Lazarus.

And there are other variations. In most traditions at least three Marys are present at the Crucifixion and at the Resurrection, but again traditions differ as to the identities of these three, and as to whether they are the same three at these two events.

Mary, mother of Jesus[edit]

The Madonna in Sorrow, by Sassoferrato, 17th century

Mary the mother of Jesus, also known as the Madonna, is one of the main characters of the Gospels. The terms Mariology and, in the context of Christianity, Marian (for example in Marian devotions and Marian apparition), both most commonly refer to this person.

She is mentioned by name twelve times in the Gospel of Luke,[6] five times in the Gospel of Matthew,[7] once in the Gospel of Mark [8] and once in the Book of Acts.[9]

Nearly all of these mentions by name are within Christmas story, which appears only in Matthew and Luke, not in Mark or John. Only two of the Gospel passages that mention this Mary by name, Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3, are later in Jesus' life, and they are generally accepted as parallel passages describing the same event. In addition Matthew 12:46–50 and Mark 3:31–35 both describe Mary's visit to Jesus as an adult but without mentioning her by name, and Luke 2:48–51 describes an event from Jesus' later childhood with Mary again a major player but not mentioned by name.

The Gospel of John mentions her twice [10] but without naming her, and is the only one of the Gospels to explicitly state that she was present at the Crucifixion. Matthew and Mark both list two women named Mary as present,[11] but most traditions do not identify either of these with the mother of Jesus, leading to the conclusion that there were three Marys present. Matthew and Mark also record the attendance of many other women whom they do not name,[12] and Luke does not identify by name any of the many women present.[13]

All traditions affirm her presence at the Crucifixion. Roman Catholic tradition assigns her feast days of January 1 (Mother of God), March 25 (Annunciation), August 15 (Assumption) and December 8 (Immaculate Conception), while the Church of England celebrates March 25 (Annunciation), May 31 or 2 July (visitation to Elizabeth), 15 August (Blessed Virgin), 8 September (Birth, and alternative date for Blessed Virgin) and 13 December (Conception).[14] The Lutheran church commemorates her at lesser festivals on May 31 (visitation to Elizabeth) and August 15 (Mother of Our Lord).[15]

See also:

Mary Magdalene[edit]

Magdalena by Gheorghe Tattarescu

Mary Magdalene is named three times in Matthew, four times in Mark, twice in Luke and three times in John,[16] and was given the title Apostle to the Apostles by no less a person than St Augustine.[17]

All four Gospels name her as one of the small group of women who found the tomb empty,[18] all but Luke name her as one of the many women present at the Crucifixion,[19] and Luke names none of the women who had followed him from Galilee,[20] which would include her. Matthew and Mark both name her as one of the small group who placed the body in the tomb.[21]

Prior to the Crucifixion, however, the only explicit mention of her is in Luke 8:2, in which she is one of only three named of the many women accompanying Jesus in his travels. Here she is also described as one of the women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, and as the one from whom seven demons had gone out.

Several scholars and traditions identify her with other women in the New Testament, but none of these are universally accepted.[22]

Roman Catholic tradition, in particular, has from time to time identified her with both Mary of Bethany and with the unnamed woman who was a sinner of Luke 7:37–39,[23][24][25] resulting in the view that she is mentioned more times than Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the New Testament, and also giving rise to the legend that made her a model of a penitent sinner and even, according to Pope Gregory, a reformed prostitute.[5] This view, which was taken to its extreme in Legenda Aurea (c. 1260),[26] is no longer affirmed by the Roman Catholic Church [27] but remains in popular devotion.

Her feast day is July 22, and is celebrated then by the Roman Catholic and Lutheran churches and by the Church of England.[14][15]

Mary of Bethany[edit]

Jesus at the home of Martha and Mary by Harold Copping, depicting the scene from Luke 10

Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, lived with them in Bethany, near Jerusalem. Jesus visited them there on at least two occasions. Mary and Martha are mentioned by name in John 11:1–12:8 and in Luke 10:38–41.

Three other passages, one each in Matthew, Mark and Luke, refer to an unnamed person identified by some but by no means all [22] authorities as this Mary, or as Mary Magdalene, or both. Roman Catholic tradition in particular identifies the person in Luke with both Mary of Bethany and Saint Mary Magdalene.

John describes two visits by Jesus to Mary and Martha. In John 11, Jesus raises Mary's brother Lazarus from death. Mary, Martha and Lazarus already appear to be very close friends of Jesus at this time. On a subsequent visit in John 12:1–8, Mary anoints Jesus' feet.

Matthew 26:6–7 and Mark 14:3 are generally agreed to be parallel passages each to the other. An unnamed woman anoints Jesus at Bethany, this time in the house of Simon the Leper, and she anoints his head rather than his feet. Some traditions also assert that this is the same incident as in John 12, despite the obvious discrepancies.

In Luke 7:36–40, Jesus dines at the home of a Pharisee named Simon, but here the locality is not given. A woman of the city, who was a sinner anoints his feet, and again her name is not given. Many scholars regard this as the same incident as described in Matthew 26 and Mark 14, again despite some discrepancies. Some authorities identify this person as Mary Magdalene,[5] and some the event as that in John 12, again with some discrepancies.

In summary, each of the four Gospels reports an anointing. Matthew and Mark are generally agreed to describe the same event. Authorities differ as to the others, and only in John is Mary named.

In Luke 10:38–41, Jesus visits Mary and Martha in an unnamed village, and Lazarus is not mentioned. It is generally agreed that these are the same Mary and Martha as in John 11-12, but whether this Mary is also the unnamed woman in Matthew 26, Mark 14 and Luke 7 (or even whether the unnamed woman in Luke is the same one as in Matthew and Mark) is not generally agreed.[22]

The Lutheran church commemorates her together with Martha and Lazarus on 29 July.[15]

Mary of Clopas[edit]

Mary, the wife of Clopas, is named only once in the New Testament, in John 19:25, where she is listed as one of four women standing by the Cross, the others being Mary the mother of Jesus, her sister (or perhaps cousin, the Aramaic words being the same), and Mary Magdalene. An alternative reading is that the list is of only three women, and that Mary of Clopas is also the sister (or cousin) of Mary the mother of Jesus, as some traditions maintain. The passage could also be interpreted to mean that Mary of Clopas is Clopas' daughter, rather than his wife, but this is not the general view.

Many scholars identify her with the other Mary mentioned twice in Matthew,[28][29] and also therefore with Mary mother of James (the younger) in the parallel passages in Mark.[30] This is also the Roman Catholic tradition. Her feast day is April 24.[31]

Some scholars suggest that Clopas is a variant spelling of Cleopas, and that Mary of Clopas is Cleopas' wife and also the unnamed person who is with him when they meet the risen Christ on the Emmaus Road in Luke 24:13–35. This is a minority view.[32]

James Tabor suggests that Mary of Clopas is the same person as Mary the mother of Jesus, and that Clopas is her second husband, Joseph having died.[33] This reading of John 19:25 then also shortens the list there to three: This Mary, her sister (or cousin), and Mary Magdalene. This view is controversial.

Mary, mother of James[edit]

There are five passages generally agreed to refer to Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and two others which may refer either to her or to another Mary who was the mother of a different James.

Mary, mother of James is mentioned explicitly in four passages:

  • Matthew 27:55–56 describing the Crucifixion: There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. This is also the only reference to Mary mother of Joseph.
  • Mark 15:40 the parallel passage to Matthew 27:55–56: There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. This is also one of two references to Mary mother of Joses, the other being Mark 15:47.
  • Mark 16:1 leading up to the Resurrection: When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.
  • Luke 24:10 following the Resurrection: Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles.

Most authorities agree that Mark 15:40 and 16:1 refer to the same person, but traditions and authorities differ as to the Matthew and Luke passages. Some regard them all as a single person, some as two (in various combinations), and some even as three different people. If three, then the Matthew and Luke passages are the only explicit references to either of these other two. There is a similar variety of opinions as to exactly which person is referred to as James on each occasion.[34]

Roman Catholic tradition identifies the person in the Matthew passage as Saint Mary Salome. According to this reading, Mary the mother of James and Joseph is distinct from the mother of the sons of Zebedee who is referred to as Saint Mary Salome, and the other references to mother of James refer to Saint Mary of James. Protestant tradition similarly identifies two different people as being described as Mary mother of James, one being the mother of James the younger and the other being the mother of James, son of Zebedee.

Mary, mother of James the younger[edit]

In addition to the references to Mary mother of James in Mark 15:40 and 16:1, Mark 15:47 states that Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid. Most authorities identify the person named Mary accompanying Mary Magdalene in these three passages as the same person, and hold also that she is the other Mary named twice in Matthew, see below, making at least five references to her in total.

If so this person could be unambiguously described as either Mary mother of Joses or Mary mother of James the younger, but despite the former name appearing in both Mark 15:40 and 15:47 as opposed to only Mark 15:40 for the latter, it is mother of James the younger which has been generally adopted. She is also sometimes referred to as Mary, mother of James son of Alphaeus, and identified by Roman Catholic tradition as Mary Jacobe.

The Lutheran church commemorates her together with Joanna and Salome on August 3,[15] and the Roman Catholic church on May 25.

The other Mary[edit]

Two passages in Matthew refer to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary:

It is generally agreed that these four passages refer to the same person accompanying Mary Magdalene, and also that she is the same person named in Mark 15:40 as Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, also in the company of Mary Magdalene on that occasion.

Many authorities identify the other Mary as Mary mother of James the younger.

Mary, mother of John Mark[edit]

Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark is named only once, in Acts 12:12, which is the first undisputed reference to John Mark, who is then twice named later in Acts.[35] This John Mark is identified by some with Mark the cousin of Barnabas, and also by some with Mark the Evangelist,[36] notably by the Coptic Church.

It has been conjectured that she is the same person as Mary of Rome but there is no general support for this.[37]

Mary Salome[edit]

The name Salome appears twice in the New Testament,[38] both times in Mark, and both times in a list of three women, the others being Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James (the younger).

Roman Catholic tradition identifies this person as Mary mother of John Mark and also as mother of James, son of Zebedee, and names her Mary Salome [39] making her the third of the three Marys at the resurrection. She also therefore becomes the person referred as the mother of the sons of Zebedee (James and Joseph).[40] Her feast day is October 22.[41]

Mary of Rome[edit]

In Romans 16:6, Paul asks the recipients to Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. Nothing else is known about this person.[3]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Bible Gateway search results for Mary
  2. ^ Bauckham, Richard (2006). Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony. p. 89. ISBN 0802831621.
  3. ^ a b Who was Who in the Bible, ISBN 0-7852-4240-6, p. 255
  4. ^ retrieved 5 April 2013
  5. ^ a b c retrieved 26 March 2013
  6. ^ Luke 1:27–2:34 note Chapter 1 verses 27, 30, 34, 38–39, 41, 46, 56 and Chapter 2 verses 5, 16, 19, 34
  7. ^ Matthew 1:12–24, 2:11, 13:55
  8. ^ Mark 6:3
  9. ^ Acts 1:14
  10. ^ John 2:1–12 John 19:25–27
  11. ^ Matthew 27:56 Mark 15:40
  12. ^ Matthew 27:55 Mark 15:41
  13. ^ Luke 23:49
  14. ^ a b See Calendar of saints (Church of England)
  15. ^ a b c d See Calendar of Saints (Lutheran)
  16. ^ Bible Gateway search results for Mary Magdalene
  17. ^ Doyle, Ken. "Apostle to the apostles: The story of Mary Magdalene". Catholictimes, 11 September 2011 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-04-16. Retrieved 2016-11-29.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) Accessed 23 March 2013
  18. ^ Matthew 28:1–7 Mark 16:1–8 Luke 24:10–12 John 20:1–2
  19. ^ Matthew 27:56 Mark 15:40 John 19:25
  20. ^ Luke 23:49
  21. ^ Matthew 27:59–61 Mark 15:46–47
  22. ^ a b c Pakenham, Frank. 1974. The Life of Jesus Christ. London: William Cloves & Sons. ISBN 0 283 98153 9. pp. 78–79.
  23. ^ Pope, H. 1910. St. Mary Magdalen, in The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  24. ^ retrieved 8 April 2013
  25. ^ retrieved 8 April 2013
  26. ^ retrieved 8 April 2013
  27. ^ Blainey, Geoffrey. 2011. A Short History of Christianity. Camberwell: Viking. ISBN 9780670075249 p. 159
  28. ^ Who was Who in the Bible, ISBN 0 7852 4240 6, p. 257
  29. ^ S. S. Smalley, Dean Emeritus of Chester Cathedral, England. "Mary," New Bible Dictionary, 1982. p. 793
  30. ^ Alexander, David and Pat. 1973. The Lion Handbook of the Bible. ISBN 0-85648-010-X. p. 667
  31. ^ retrieved 8 April 2013
  32. ^ and both retrieved 26 March 2013
  33. ^ Tabor, James (2006). The Jesus Dynasty. Simon & Schuster. pp. 90–91. ISBN 978-0-7432-8723-4.
  34. ^ retrieved 10 April 2013
  35. ^ Acts 12:25, 15:37
  36. ^ Lane, William L. (1974). The Gospel According to Mark. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. p. 21.
  37. ^ retrieved April 5, 2013 It is only a conjecture that she is the same as the mother of John Mark.
  38. ^ Bible Gateway search results for Salome
  39. ^ See for example Mary Salome and Zebedee
  40. ^ Matthew 20:20 Matthew 27:56
  41. ^ retrieved 8 April 2013