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Jesus' mother Mary and Golgotha

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  • Kevin O'Brien
    To Paul Anderson, As an aid in answering your important question Paul about the identity of the addressed woman from the cross, I offer the following thoughts:
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 8, 2003
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      To Paul Anderson,

      As an aid in answering your important question Paul about the identity of the addressed woman from the cross, I offer the following thoughts:

      Was Mary, Jesus' natural mother at Golgotha?

      For the answer it is well to note that Romans allowed only those persons related to the victim of crucifixion to be present so that they could take charge of the funeral rites and burial. Pilate's soldiers had more important matters to attend to than act in those capacities. So the woman concerned in v. 26 whoever she was, had to be related to Jesus! This narrows down the field considerably in that Mary (Joseph's wife) certainly was related to Jesus as his natural mother!

      If four women in toto (a disputed point) were present on Golgotha in v. 25 , that is, if "his mother's sister" is an unknown woman but necessarily related to Jesus, that leaves Mary of Clopas as step-aunt to Jesus -- Clopas being the recognized legal blood-brother of Joseph, Jesus' foster-father. The Magdalen whom in my researches I identify as cousin-in-law to Jesus (it is too complex in this posting to provide the arguments at this stage on this claim) were thus all related via different paths to Jesus.

      If three women only were present on Golgotha then the woman in v. 25, "his mother's sister" with help here from the Synoptic report can only be in apposition to Salome. Salome would have been related to Jesus as his aunt via Mary. That is, Salome was blood-sister to Jesus' mother. In each option, all present on Golgotha (minus of course the soldiers) were related to Jesus, including the B.D.!!

      I have evidence, implicit and explicit, that drives the fairly late (Julius Paulus Digest Bk. 47.12.11 (ca. 200 AD); also see Digest Bk. evidence of family members being present at a crucifixion of a fellow family member back to pre-70 AD.

      In a Jewish family tomb complex dated precisely from ca. 7 AD -66 AD (in the URL below) excavated in June 1968 in northern Jerusalem at Giv'at ha-mivtah, one ossuary within contained bones of a crucified man aged 24-28 with the name of Jehohanan ben hgqwl inscribed on the ossuary -- evidently a son of some Jewish family. You can check these details on http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/jesus/crucifixion.html). From remarkeable archeological data reported in this URL I will develop the relatives issue which underlay and form part of the circumstances concerning Jehohanan's death and burial. As only Romans at the time of Jesus in the Roman Empire exacted that terrible form of capital punishment (Herod Antipas preferred beheading as becomes a "fox"), evidently the then Roman praefect or governor (one candidate being Pilate!) allowed family members of Jehohanan to take charge of his remains in order for the former to inter him in the family tomb. That was in northern Jerusalem near Mt. Scopus and the ancient road to Nablus. In this case, although crucified, Jehohanan's body evidently was not consigned nearby the execution scene to a common burial dump nor lime pit nor left on the cross for the birds as carrion etc. How common was such permission given? In answer: I think it was one of the liberties granted Jews and expected by them from the Pax Romana under Augustus (see below).

      The evidence from established Mediterranean funerary customs (still the custom today) is that the man's family members first interred his remains in the family tomb in northern Jerusalem the same day he died. After about twelve months, they or very close relatives collected his skeletal remains and deposited them into a container called an ossuary and left it in the family tomb which was then sealed until this century. On the day he died, family members and any close relatives at the execution scene obviously retrieved the body from the cross before consigned to the fates above. They then transported it to the distant family tomb. There, they would have washed the body, trimmed the beard and closed all bodily orifices in accordance with long held Jewish funerary custom. Family members along with any close relatives would have to be very near the crucifixion scene either while he was being crucified or its immediate aftermath in order to receive the body. As the tomb was dated 7-66 AD, it is evident that the latest he was crucified was AD 65 when the Romans were not then ejected from the Antonia and the twelve month interval between the first burial and the bones deposited in the ossuary.

      If his wife or mother was distanced "afar" from Jehohanan but at Golgotha (ten or twenty or at the most thirty yards) that would have come about I suggest from their incessant bewailing and mourning mantra for Jehohanan. Hard-bitten executioners would hardly brook such for long. It follows from all this that the evidence of Julius Paulus on this issue is driven back no less than one hundred and thirty five years at least to ca. 65 AD!

      The movements of the woman Jesus addressed from the cross (v. 26):

      Was she not taken at that very moment from Golgotha to a house inside the city? And who took her'? The last question is answered by noting that the Beloved Disciple witnessed for posterity the outstanding phenomenon of the blood and watery substance issuing from Jesus' side (John 19.35-37). Therefore, he could not be the one who escorted the woman concerned to his putative city home 'from that hour' or an alternative and better translation, 'from then on' in John 19.26-27! Only Salome and some other women (cf. Mark 15.41, 47) did that. And that is why Salome was absent from Golgotha in Mark 15.47 after being present there seven verses previously in Mark 15.40 while the Magdalen was present when Jesus was entombed (Matt 27.61; Mark 15.47; Luke 23.55). Obviously, it was the Magdalene not Salome who knew where the tomb lay and it was Salome not the Magdalen who carried out Jesus' command from the cross!


      The time factor of setting out for the tomb on Easter Sunday morning by the women (Mary Magdalene (the four Gospels) and Salome (Mark 16.1) requires that they set out from their starting-point (let us assume here the city) while still dark -- that is, at 5.15 am. in the morning twilight and arrive at the tomb when the sun's disk first appeared over Mt. Olivet at 5.55 am. due east of the city (Mark 16.2). It was then that the Gennath perimeter gate-gateway opened for the women to leave the city for the tomb outside the city.

      The distance from this gate-gateway to almost certainly the historical tomb site is no more than 100 metres and from the furtherest point within the city, the south-eastern corner of the city to that gate-gateway was hardly a kilometre. Even setting out from this extreme point inside the city at the latest time for dawn (ca. 5.15 am.) through Jerusalem's streets, forty minutes, from 5.15 - 5.55 am. travelling at the normal walking pace of 5 k.p.h. is an incredibly long time for the journey. Yet the narrative indicates strongly that the women were in a hurry to fulfil their errand - their having set out from their starting-point as early as dawn! It has been asssumed that the perimeter gates and gateways were open for the women staying overnight inside the city to go to the tomb. Yet the anomaly in the timing in Mark 16.2 plagues Mark's narrative if the women's starting-point for the tomb was from within the city. And there was no chrono/geographical alternative to eliminate all these problems but the following which must have formed the historic facts of the case:

      'Bethany': The only other alternative starting-point:

      Leaving 'Bethany' at 5.15 am. for the tomb ca. three and a half kilometres distant while it was still dark (morning twilight), the women, walking both slightly uphill and downhill at five k.p.h. (average pace) arrived at the then open eastern Water Gate at 5.55 am. with the sun's disk ablaze over the summit of Mt. Olivet and hurried through the city in a north westerly direction through the Gennath gateway to the tomb. The time-distance description in Mark 16.2 is now rendered intelligible. The time-distance aspect of a departure point from 'Bethany' and then hurrying through the city to the tomb fits in beautifully with the chrono-geographical requirements set within the four Gospel narratives, while a departure point from within the city for the tomb bristles with problems.

      From this chrono-geographical analysis comes an unexpected rediscovery. With 'Bethany' as Salome's historical starting-point for the tomb, she must have gone there late on the previous Friday afternoon supporting the addressed woman from the cross in her terrible grief (see above notice on Mark 15.47). Since the perimeter gates and gateways were closed from sunset on Friday till sunrise on Sunday, Salome would be unable to enter the city during this period, even if she wished to. She was confined to 'Bethany' from Friday night till very early Sunday morning. As Mary Magdalen accompanied her to the tomb, so the same geographical restriction applied: she likewise was confined to 'Bethany'- there being no other house outside the city wall in the area. The Magdalen obviously reached 'Bethany' from Golgotha on late Friday afternoon before Sabbath restrictions to movement took effect. As the addressed woman was taken to the home of the Beloved Disciple (John 19.26-27), he must have had his home at 'Bethany' where were these women, and Jesus himself, because he often stayed there overnight himself, on Golgotha knew it as the B.D.'s home! You are right Paul in identifying the addressed woman from the cross as Jesus' biological mother! I hope all this also conforms to Eric Fholer's expressed wish on the List that some criterion or set of criteria emerge which can be applied to the domestic cum biological relationships issue.


      Kevin O'Brien


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