Monday, December 8, 2014

Mary Magdalene as Mrs. Jesus

You can tell it’s almost Christmas when one observes 1. lots of cars in the mall parking lots; 2. inane secular Christmas songs blaring in the mall, and 3. even more inane articles on Jesus in the media.  Foremost in this year’s inevitable inanity is an article by Simcha Jacobovici, published in (where else) the Huffington Post.   It is provocatively titled, “Jesus’ Marriage to Mary the Magdalene Is Fact, Not Fiction”.  Unpacking and refuting every absurdity in it would be more trouble than it is worth.  Mr. Jacobovici laments in his article that the “paradigm-shifting discovery” he shares with us resulted in “nothing” from the scholarly world, so that “between 1980 and 1996 no archaelologists even reported the find”.  Similarly when he produced his 2007 documentary The Last Tomb of Jesus and co-authored his book The Jesus Family Tomb “to propel the find onto the headlines”, the “world’s reaction” was “again, nothing”. That may give thoughtful people their first clue as to the value of his scholarship and his “find”.  It looks as if the archaeologists writing between 1980 and 1996 were any more inclined to waste their time examining nonsense than I am. 
            But in the spirit of the season, I will offer a brief reply to one of Mr. Jacobovici’s arguments.  In one part of his disjointed piece he writes,  the Gospels agree that it was Mary the Magdalene who went early Sunday morning to wash and anoint Jesus’ crucified body (Mark 16:1)...What the Gospels are telling us is that Mary the Magdalene went to Jesus’ tomb to prepare his body for burial. That’s the Gospels, not me. Then and now, no woman would touch the naked body of a dead Rabbi, unless she was family. Jesus was whipped, beat [sic] and crucified. No woman would wash the blood and sweat off his private parts unless she was his wife.” 
            Two things.  First of all, “what the Gospels are telling us” is that the “blood and sweat” was “washed off his private parts” by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus at the time of His burial  (Matthew 28:57f, Mark 15:42f, Luke 23:50f, John 19:38f), not by Mary Magdalene.  The subsequent visit of Mary Magdalene to the tomb was not to wash off anything after Jesus had been whipped, beaten, and crucified, but simply as a devotional act.  The Lord’s body was not naked, but was by then wrapped in a linen sheet.   Secondly, Mary Magdalene came to perform this devotional act along with other women (known to Orthodoxy as “the myrrh-bearers”), women such as Mary the mother of James, and Salome (Mark 16:1).  Presumably these women were not all married to Jesus.  It is obvious to anyone who has actually read the Gospel texts that the women came not to perform the duties of family preparing Jesus for burial, but simply as disciples who loved Him.  The visit of the Mary Magdalene to the tomb proves precisely nothing about anything.
            Finally, also in the spirit of the season, I would like to offer a free and unsolicited piece of advice so that one can readily identify nonsense and separate fact from inane fiction.  Any new “discovery” or “find” which involves giving credence to “lost” literature or Gnostic Gospels, or which involves “paradigm-shifting” archaeological finds may be safely discounted from the start.  Real scholars know this.  It is only film-makers who get excited about such things in order to promote their films and sell their books.


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