- Dear Sandra:
Mary Magdalene as Simon the Leper's Wife
This rather sudden and totally surprising claim is not without evidence. Four indicators are in the Gospels supporting the claim and one possible temporary objection to the claim. For the sake of this exercise, it is logically taken that Lazar(us) and Martha were related to Simon the Leper (STL) as brother-in-law and sister-in-law respectively.
(1) Remarkable and a sudden kind of emphasis when prima facie it is least expected is given Mary Magdalene in the Fourth Gospel: this is understandable if her husband STL whom I argue to be the B.D. insisted on it. Living close to Jerusalem at Bethany, STL/B.D. must have relayed her relationship to him as his wife to the Jacobean/Jerusalem church. Very quickly, her personal experiences with Jesus found its way into the earliest reports of Jesus' mission: that among other vital issues being the vivid and detailed report as given in the Empty Tomb narrative of the Fourth Gospel. In this narrative, Mary Magdalene is emphasized as taking part in the tomb scene to the non-mention of the other women, who in Mark 16.1 are named.
(2) When the Synoptists mention women in the final chapters, she is always given first place, as if possessing (in their estimation) more than normal status. In the Fourth Gospel, in the same contexts, she is mentioned last. Let us assume for a moment that the original transmitter of this tradition in the Fourth Gospel is STL/B.D. This is not an exegetically illegal procedure since original transmission in all of its detail of the Anointing episode almost certainly came from the owner of the house where it occurred, namely STL/B.D. Here almost certainly we see a husband observing accepted domestic protocol in politely granting precedence to other women first rather than to his own wife when introducing persons for the first time. Shown here is that STL carries more than considerable weight and more than ordinary influence in compilation of reports concerning Mary Magdalene as presented in the Fourth Gospel.
In answer to one of your questions Sandra: Being STL's wife (a working hypothesis concluded from this converging and supporting evidence and arguments from it), Mary Magdalene's relationship to Jesus was as cousin-in-law, since STL/B.D himself was Jesus' first cousin as stressed repeatedly in my research. Almost ready for the Internet is a Web-file of mine with all the arguments for claims made already which you are invited to access. I'll have the URL available soon. STL/B.D. being closely related to Jesus means that the Roman authority allowed not disallowed Mary Magdalene\Mary of 'Bethany' his wife to be present on Golgotha.
(3) She it was who arranged with Salome to accompany Mary (Jesus'
mother) to her and her husband's home 'Bethany' from Golgotha, a little more than three kilometres (certainly not anywhere in Galilee!) distant (cf. John 19.25-27), while she continued her lamentation for Jesus 'from afar'. Her husband carried out another duty instead at that time. STL/B.D. had already but reluctantly enrolled with other disciples in slaughter of their Passover lamb. As a Jew, he was morally, ritually and religiously obligated to be present at a Passover meal inside the sealed city of Jerusalem with all perimeter gates and gateways shut tight from sunset onwards on that same Friday night (as one would expect to be normal custom at night) (Deut 16.16; cf. Talmudica Encyclopaedia p. 99).
(4) Like all sensible and caring wives Mary Magdalene knew precisely where her husband was. She certainly knew the house in the city her B.D. husband Simon the Leper was staying in all that fateful weekend while she was in Bethany. She went from Jesus' tomb unerringly straight to it on the morn of Jesus' Resurrection. While the male disciples were encased all that week-end behind a sealed city, the women were not so encased, their being at Bethany!
Argument Against: with Comment
STL's wife Mary Magdalene is not identified as his wife at the Anointing in Simon's house.
COMMENT: With Lazar reclining and taking it easy, it was necessary for someone beforehand to organize necessary details like preparing couches for the men, welcoming the guests, arranging lustration facilities for them in the vestibule before they entered the supper room (cf. m. `Aboth 4.16), cooking the meal, presenting the food, cleaning up. Any person such as a hired servant or waiter would have certainly acted under overall supervision of someone in authority in the house. Who could undertake this supervisory role but his wife Mary?
It is often asked why STL's name is not mentioned in the "Johannine" Anointing passage as it is in the Markan and Matthean parallel passages. Like the anonymity accorded the B.D., STL keeps a low profile and is reluctant to reveal his own presence. If a disciple of STL's is reporting the incident, that disciple regarded it as a certainty that STL was inclusive in the word 'they'.
Addendum: It is sometimes asked why the three 'Bethany' siblings were not present on Golgotha at the most crucial stage of Jesus' life, namely when he was leaving it. Since Mary of Bethany\Mary Magdalen was rightfully there (her being Jesus' cousin-in-law), the question is answered for her. However, in Martha's and Lazar's case, all the evidence available indicates their relationship to Jesus was non-existent, hence their enforced absence from the immediate precincts of Golgotha. As for 'Lazar': Jesus and some of his disciples at Bethany over the Jordan apparently were acquainted closely enough with 'Lazar' to identify him with that name, it being the shortened form of 'Eliazar' or 'Eliezer'. This is in accord with him being their 'friend' (John 11.11). However, in calling him his (and their) 'friend', Jesus is saying implicitly that Lazar was not related to himself or any of them but was still close to them all nonetheless. Although not mentioned as close to the cross as were others, can there be any doubt that they were among those 'from afar' lamenting?
As for your second question Sandra: Yes I have understood the gist of Jusino's thesis that Mary Magdalene is claimed to be the B.D. John 20.2 proves just the opposite. You can't have Mary Magdalen as the B.D at the same time that she ran towards the B.D.! Please see my reference to the Principle of non-Contradiction in my previous post. (Digest Number 589 (4)). It is ontologically, circumstantially, spatially, chronologicallym, logically impossible no matter any proposal or speculation that the early church has switched the gender for whatever the nefarious reason, which proposed switch I can only regard as an anachronism, peculiar to modern times and interpretation.
As for your third question about ". ensconsing, barehead ." etc.: Time dims the memory but in the past I had access to a book by Ben Witherington whose interests in this matter approached mine. Sorry I can't remember the book's title for you. Perhaps someone on the List has that knowledge and can help you.
I see a definite gematria connection of En-gedi with En-eglaim (Qumran) and they in turn with the capacity of the water jars at Cana equalling 17 and 153 hin. which latter figure in turn has the same numeral value as the 153 fish in John 21! Interested?! If you are, then perhaps we could continue the discussion off-List.
Thank you Sandra for your posting.
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