Re: [John_Lit] Re: Mary
- In a recent post, I suggested that a passage from the Gospel of Philip can
help us to understand who are the women in John 19:25. In this post, I
would like to expand a bit on this suggestion.
Let us re-look at the passage from Philip, "There were three who always
walked with the Lord: Mary his mother and her sister and Magdalene, the one
who was called his companion. His sister and his mother and his companion
were each a Mary."
Note that there are two lists here. The first consists of three women who
always walked with Jesus: (1) his mother, (2) her sister, and (3) the
The second consists of three women named Mary: (1) a sister of Jesus, (2)
his mother, and (3) his companion, i.e., the Magdalene.
There are two people who are on both lists: (1) the mother of Jesus and (2)
There is one who is only on the list of those who always walked with Jesus,
i.e., the sister of his mother.
There is one who is only on the list of those named Mary, i.e., the sister
As a result, there are four people on these two lists: (1) Mary, the mother
of Jesus, (2) her sister, (3) Mary the Magdalene, and (4) Mary, the sister
This is pretty straight-forward, so I think it unnecessary to speculate that
there is something "wrong" with the passage, e.g., to speculate that the two
lists originally consisted of the same three women, with their divergence
due to a scribal error.
I also see no basis for thinking that Philip is solely dependent upon John
19:25 for developing his two lists. For example, 19:25 gives Philip no
justification for saying that the three women on the first list "always
walked with the Lord". This first list, then, appears to be based on a
quite different scriptural passage.
This first list, consisting of women "who always walked with the Lord", has
a total of three women, with two of them being named Mary. This is
reminiscent of Mark 15:40-41a: where Mark names three women who, he says,
had followed Jesus in Galilee, with two of them being named Mary!
Let us, then, look at Mark 15:40-41a (RSV), "There were also women looking
on afar off; among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the
less and of Joses, and Salome. (Who also, when he was in Galilee, followed
him, and ministered unto him;}"
What I suggest is that these three women *are* the three women, who
according to Philip, always walked with Jesus, i.e., the mother of Jesus,
her sister, and Mary the Magdalene. In this case, by saying that they always
walked with Jesus, what Philip means is that they accompanied Jesus in
Galilee and ministered to him.
In this case, further, Philip took Mary the mother of James the less and of
Joses to be the mother of Jesus and took Salome to be the sister of Jesus'
Indeed, whether or not Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses is the
mother of Jesus, it certainly is the case that Philip would have had reason
for making this identification. For example, in Mark (p. 977), Robert H,
Gundry states, "The sons of the next Mary have the names of the first two of
Jesus' four brothers listed in (Mark) 6:3, and in the same order as there.
Since 6:3 also gives the name Mary to Jesus' mother, it seems likely that
one and the same Mary was mother to Jesus, James, and Joses (and in 6:30 to
Jude [not Iscariot] and Simon [not Peter or the Cananaean; cf. 3:16-19] as
well-against the plea of J. W. Wenham in EvQ  12 that two families
*could* share so many names). Mark identifies her as the mother of Jesus'
first two brothers rather than of Jesus himself...probably because the
centurion has just identified Jesus as God's Son and Mark does not want
Mary's being the mother of Jesus to lessen the emphasis in this passage on
his divne sonship....Mark describes James as 'the little' in reference to
6:3, i.e., as younger than his brother Jesus, even though listed here before
his brother Joses as though he (James) were the oldest son of Mary
(see A. Deissmann, Bible Studies, 144-45, for evidence favoring the 'little'
as an allusion to younger age rather than to smaller size in
adulthood)....From the cultural standpoint omission of the two youngest
brothers is unexceptional (cf. the neglect of David the youngest in I Sam.
16:11). Mother of Jesus' older two brothers suffices to identify whose
mother this Mary is."
Further, whether or not the sister of Jesus' mother actually is Salome, it
certainly is the case that Philip would have had reason for making this
identification. So, in "Salome" (The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible,
Vol. 4, p. 167), E. P. Blair states, "In John 19:25, 'his mother's sister'
probably is to be distinguished from 'Mary, the wife of Clopas,' and Salome
may thus be meant. This would make Salome and Zebedee aunt and uncle, and
James and John cousins, of Jesus."
So, to summarize, it appears that the first list of Philip (consisting of
three women who always walked with Jesus, i.e., his mother, his mother's
sister, and the Magdalene) is based on Mark 15:40-41a (which lists three
women who were with Jesus in Galilee and ministered to him there, i.e., Mary
the mother of James the lesser and Joses, Salome, and Mary the Magdalene),
with Philip making these identifications: (1) the mother of Jesus = Mary the
mother of James the lesser and Joses, (2) his mother's sister = Salome, and
(3) the Magdalene = Mary Magdalene. Whether or not these identifications
apparently made by Philip are valid, there are reasons that can be given to
justify each one.
How, though, did Philip come up with his second list of three women named
Mary, i.e., the mother of Jesus, the sister of Jesus, and Mary the
I suggest a four step process:
1. Philip noted that, in Mark 15:40-41a, the three listed women (who he took
to be the mother of Jesus, the sister of Jesus, and Mary the Magdalene) are
watching the crucifixion of Jesus
2. He then noted that, in John 19:25, the mother of Jesus, the sister of
Jesus, Mary the Magdalene, and a third Mary, i.e., Mary of Clopas, are
listed as watching the crucifixion.
3. Ignoring or discounting the importance of the one major discrepency
between Mark and John (i.e., Mark says the women watched from afar, while
John speaks of them being close to the cross), he deduced that, this means,
there was a third Mary, not mentioned by Mark, who was one of the women
watching the crucifixion of Jesus.
4. To also mention her (who, he understood, had been a sister of Jesus), and
to emphasise the noteworthiness of there being three Marys involved, he then
made the second list consisting of the three Marys.
In this case, then, Philip understood that the women listed in John 19:25
(1) Mary, the mother of Jesus
(2) Salome, her sister
(3) Mary of Clopas, the sister of Jesus
(4) Mary the Magdalene.
This seems to be a reasonable interpretation of 19:25. There very well
could be four women listed in 19:25--even though, admittedly, it could be
three or five. If Salome was a sister of the mother of Jesus, this helps to
explain why Jesus chose two of her sons to be his disciples. If Mary of
Clopas was the sister of Jesus (and, so, the wife of Clopas rather than his
mother or daughter), then this helps to explain why the Jerusalem Church
Council chose Simeon, the son of Clopas and his wife, to succeed James, the
brother of Jesus, as their head.
To conclude, there are two lists of three women each in Philip. The first
list (consisting of those who always walked with the Lord) appears to be
based on Philip's interpretation of Mark 15:40-41a. The second list
(consisting of three Marys) appears to be based on his harmonizing Mark
15:40-41a with John 19:25--for such a harmonization leads to there being a
third Mary, not mentioned by Mark, who was watching the crucifixion of
Jesus. The interpretation of 19:25 that results appears to be reasonable,
meaning that it might be correct.
1809 N. English Apt. 15
Maplewood, MN USA 55109
- If Salome was a sister of the mother of Jesus, this helps to
> explain why Jesus chose two of her sons to be his disciples.Analyzing this same text in John 19:25, John A. T. Robinson comes to
nearly the same conclusion, suggesting that John ben Zebedee, the son
of Salome, may very well have been Jesus' first cousin, the one who
stood at the cross next to his aunt Mary, the mother of Jesus.
David Trapero M. Div.
Hickory, North Caroli
----- Original Message -----
From: "kymhsm" <khs@...>
Sent: Thursday, November 13, 2003 11:14 PM
Subject: [John_Lit] Re: Mary
<<Firstly, the idea that the Revelation preceded events about which
it speaks is not a problem if one accepts that it was God-given>>
The apocalyptic genre provides a pattern for history. The writer sets the
revelation in the past. God controlled the past it is saying and so he can
control the future. In general the events are based in the past and would be
known to readers. I go along with von Rad, that apocalyptic originates in
the Widsom schools.
- Dear Ken,
<<< The apocalyptic genre provides a pattern for history. The
writer sets the revelation in the past. God controlled the past it is
saying and so he can control the future. In general the events are
based in the past and would be known to readers. I go along
with von Rad, that apocalyptic originates in the Widsom schools.
>>>In apocalyptic literature the writer might set the revelation in the
past, but it could hardly be said that the Revelation is set in the
past. It would make no sense to the Asian believers if this were
so. If it was late and it did make sense, I suspect some one
would have commented on it somewhere.
This may not be an issue for the Johannine list but, If it is
conceded that God controlled the past, it cannot be a mere
possibility that God `can control the future'. The God who
controlled the past also controls the future. For God to control the
future means that he knows the future (eg. Isa 46:10; Rev1:8). If
God knows the future then there it is not an issue for him to
declare it in terms and images that he had spent the last two