Friday, July 22, 2011

St. Mary Magdalene and the insanity of modern Catholic biblical scholarship


July 22nd, Feast of St. Mary Magdalene
The majority of modern biblical “scholars” – including Catholics – maintain that Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany (the sister of Lazarus and Martha), and the sinful woman (of Luke 7) are three distinct women. On the other hand, there is some popular devotion which connects Mary Magdalene at least with the sinful woman, if not with Mary of Bethany. Finally, there is a modern opinion that Mary Magdalene is the adulterous woman of John 8 [in my study of the Fathers and Doctors, I have yet to find any support for this final claim].
It may be somewhat surprising, therefore, to realize that the Western Catholic tradition has held – from at least the 5th century up to the early 1900s – that Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany, and the sinful woman (of Luke 7, not the adulteress of John 8) are one and the same person. Thus, the ancient and nearly unanimous tradition of the Latin Church is completely ignored by the modern Catholic “scholars”.
Indeed, if Mary Magdalene is not also Mary of Bethany, then we come to the awkward conclusion that Mary of Bethany is not venerated in the Roman Catholic Church – since there is no feast of “St. Mary of Bethany”, nor does the Latin Rite recognize any saint of that description apart from St. Mary Magdalene. Moreover, we point out that the feast of St. Martha of Bethany falls on the octave day of the feast of St. Mary Magdalene – lending additional support to the Church’s tradition.
While there is a tradition in the East which considers Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany, and the sinful woman to be either two or even three women – and there is certainly some ground for such a claim – we will here defend the Latin consensus that these three are indeed only one single woman: The penitent, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, the Magdalen.

The relevant Scripture passages
And behold a woman that was in the city, a sinner, when she knew that he sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment; And standing behind at his feet, she began to wash his feet, with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. (Luke 7:37-38)
And it came to pass afterwards, that he travelled through the cities and towns, preaching and evangelizing the kingdom of God; and the twelve with him: And certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities; Mary who is called Magdalen, out of whom seven devils were gone forth, (Luke 8:1-2)
Now there was a certain man sick, named Lazarus, of Bethania, of the town of Mary and Martha her sister. (And Mary was she that anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair: whose brother Lazarus was sick.) (John 11:1-2)
Mary therefore took a pound of ointment of right spikenard, of great price, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. (John 12:3)
The disappointing (and absurd) commentary of the Navarre Bible
The Navarre Bible is generally a decent commentary (as far as modern Catholic commentaries go). It is filled with many quotations from the Church Fathers, as well as with the comments of certain select authors of modern times (Pope Paul VI and St. Josemaría Esrivá, among others). However, it should be no surprise to realize that even this commentary is occasionally weak on particular points. Indeed, the fact that the commentary makes almost no mention of authors from 800 to 1800 (leaving out 1,000 years of the Catholic tradition) is cause for no little alarm.
Sadly, the discussion of the current question (on the identity of Mary Magdalene) is a particularly poignant example of how even the best and most conservative of today’s Catholic commentaries are infected with modernist tendencies.
Commenting on John 11:2, the Navarre Bible reads as follows:
“There are a number of women in the Gospels who are called Mary. The Mary here is Mary of Bethany, the sister of Lazarus, the woman who later anointed our Lord, again in Bethany, at the house of Simon the Leper.  […]  Were Mary of Bethany, Mary Magdalene and the ‘sinful’ woman who anointed Jesus’ feet in Galilee one, two or three women? Although sometimes it is argued that they are one and the same, it seems more likely that they were all different people. […]
“Besides, the Gospels give us no positive indication that Mary of Bethany was the same person as the ‘sinner’ of Galilee. Nor are there strong grounds for identifying Mary Magdalene and the ‘sinner’, whose name is not given; Mary Magdalene appears among the women who follow Jesus in Galilee […] no information is given which could link her with either of the other women.
“Nor can Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalene be identified; for John differentiates between the two. […] The women were made out to be one, but there are no grounds for that interpretation. The best-grounded and most common interpretation offered by exegetes is that they are three distinct women.”
We should point out, in particular, the final portion of this commentary from the Navarre Bible: The author is asserting that there are “no grounds” for thinking that the three are all one and the same woman and that all (or at least nearly all, and certainly all the reputable) “exegetes” hold that they are three distinct women.
What is particularly troubling about this commentary is that the author of this portion of the Navarre Bible neglects to mention that nearly every theologian and biblical scholar (including all of the Fathers and Doctors) of the Latin Church, from the time of Augustine through to the early 1900s, maintained that the three were indeed one and the same woman: Mary Magdalene.
This position which is called “groundless” and is presented as contrary to the obvious meaning of Scripture was held not only by all the scholastics, but also by St. Augustine and the Latin Fathers. Can we really be so bold as to claim that St. Augustine just didn’t know the Bible? Shall we believe (as the Navarre Bible apparently would have us believe) that St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Lawrence of Brindisi and nearly every other Latin Catholic Doctor were not true “exegetes”? Was the Bible lost after the death of the last Apostle, only to be rediscovered by the Protestant “scholars” of the 19th and 20th centuries?
It is one thing to depart from the Latin tradition – having presented the Latin opinion, one may certainly offer critiques and even disagree with it (favoring the Greeks) – this would be reasonable, if a bit bold. But, to simply dismiss and ignore the 1500 year old Latin tradition as plainly false and utterly without grounding – this is insane! This is intellectual suicide brought on by a pride of the highest order!
Why modern(ist) “scholars” are confused on this point (from the Catholic Encyclopedia)
The Greek Fathers, as a whole, distinguish the three persons:
1. the “sinner” of Luke 7:36-50;
2. the sister of Martha and Lazarus, Luke 10:38-42 and John 11; and
3. Mary Magdalen.
On the other hand most of the Latins hold that these three were one and the same. Protestant critics, however, believe there were two, if not three, distinct persons. It is impossible to demonstrate the identity of the three; but those commentators undoubtedly go too far who assert, as does Westcott (on John 11:1), “that the identity of Mary with Mary Magdalene is a mere conjecture supported by no direct evidence, and opposed to the general tenour of the gospels.”
It is the identification of Mary of Bethany with the “sinner” of Luke 7:37, which is most combatted by Protestants. It almost seems as if this reluctance to identify the “sinner” with the sister of Martha were due to a failure to grasp the full significance of the forgiveness of sin. The harmonizing tendencies of so many modern critics, too, are responsible for much of the existing confusion.
The Latin tradition: Fr. Cornelius a’ Lapide (commenting on Luke 7)
And behold a woman in the city. Behold, a wonderful thing, and a wonderful example of penitence. A woman called Mary Magdalene. S. Luke viii. 2. It is questioned whether this is the same woman who is mentioned by the two other Evangelists.  S. Chrysostom thinks there were two; Origen, Theophylact, and Euthymius, three who thus anointed our Lord, and that each Evangelist wrote of a different person. S. Matt. xxvi. 7;  S. John xii. 3.
But I hold that it was one and the same woman – Mary Magdalene, the sister of Martha and of Lazarus, who anointed our Lord, as we read in the Gospels, on two but not three occasions; and this is clear, –
1. Because this is the general interpretation of the Church, who in her Offices accepts what is here written by S. Luke as referring to the Magdalene alone.
2. Because S. John (xi. 2) writes, It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick, thus plainly alluding to this passage of S. Luke, and signifying that only one woman anointed the Lord. For if there had been more than one, the words just quoted would have insufficiently described her. But the meaning is, “when I say Mary, I mean the penitent who anointed the feet of the Lord, as recounted by S. Luke, whom all know to be Mary Magdalene.”
3. Because the Mary mentioned by S. John (xii. 2, 3) is clearly the same Mary Magdalene, the sister of Martha and of Lazarus, who anointed Christ here, as described by S. Luke, and again at Bethany, six days before the passover. For S. Matthew (xxvi. 6) and S. John (xii. i) both refer to the same event, as is evident if the two accounts are compared together. Therefore it was Mary Magdalene who anointed Christ, not three times, as Origen would have us believe, but twice only, once as is recorded by S. Luke, and again six days before His death.
4 The same thing is testified to by Church history and tradition, and also by the inscription on the tomb of the Magdalene, which Maximus, one of the seventy disciples, is said to have built.
5. And this is also the opinion of S. Augustine, S. Cyprian, and many other interpreters of scripture.
But it may be objected that this Magdalene followed Jesus from Galilee (S. Matt. xxvii. 55), and was a Galilean, and cannot have been the same as Mary the sister of Martha, who lived at Bethany, and was therefore of Judæa. I answer that she was of Judæa by descent, but seems to have lived in Galilee, it may be in the castle called Magdala, either because she had married the lord of that place, or because it had been allotted her as her share of the family property. Hence she was called Magdalene from the name of the place, Magdala. So Jansenius and others.
In the city. Some think in Jerusalem. But Jerusalem was in Judæa, and these things seem to have been done in Galilee where Christ was preaching. Hence it is very probable that the city was Nain, the scene of Christ’s miracle, as Toletus and others conjecture; but some think that it was the town of Magdala in which she lived, an idea which Adricomius on the word Magdalum supports.
A sinner. Some recent writers, to honour the Magdalene, think that she was not unchaste, but only conceited and vain, and for this reason called a sinner. But in proportion as they thus honour the Magdalene, they detract from the grace of God and that penitence which enabled her to live a holy life. For by the word sinner we generally understand one who not only sins, but leads others also to sin. The word sinner therefore here signifies a harlot, i.e. one who has many lovers although she may not make a public market of her charms, and this interpretation is accepted by S. Augustine, S. Jerome, Isidore of Pelusium,  S. Ambrose, Gregory, Bede, and S. Chrysostom, who holds (Hom. 62 ad Pop.) that to her refer the words of our Lord, Verily, I say unto you, that the publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. S. Matt. xxii. 31.
The Catholic Encyclopedia on St. Mary Magdalene
In the view we have advocated the series of events forms a consistent whole; the sinner comes early in the ministry to seek for pardon; she is described immediately afterwards as Mary Magdalen out of whom seven devils were gone forth; shortly after, we find her sitting at the Lord's feet and hearing His words. To the Catholic mind it all seems fitting and natural.
At a later period Mary and Martha turn to the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and He restores to them their brother Lazarus; a short time afterwards they make Him a supper and Mary once more repeats the act she had performed when a penitent. At the Passion she stands near by; she sees Him laid in the tomb; and she is the first witness of His Resurrection – excepting always His Mother, to whom He must needs have appeared first, though the New Testament is silent on this point.
In our view, then, there were two anointings of Christ's feet – it should surely be no difficulty that St. Matthew and St. Mark speak of His head – the first (Luke 7) took place at a comparatively early date; the second, two days before the last Passover. But it was one and the same woman who performed this pious act on each occasion.

St. Mary Magdalene, Pray for us!

20 comments:

I am not Spartacus said...

"Thus, the ancient and nearly unanimous tradition of the Latin Church is completely ignored by the modern Catholic “scholars”."

Excellent point, Father.

And it is worth nothing that, while writing as a private theologian, the Holy Father's " Jesus of Nazareth "books (I bought only the first one) abound with protestant sources and raise and appear to settle such captious issues as to whether or not John really wrote his Gospel.

According to The Holy Father, he didn't. Some anonymous "John" wrote it.

The most modern text about Biblical exegesis I dare to read is Dom Orchard's. "A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture."

This is a painful and sad thing to admit but after reading his first book, I will never read another book by The Holy Fathers if it has to do with Biblical exegesis.

Anonymous said...

You mention that the Navarre Bible, is occasionally weak on particular points, which Bible commentary would you recommend as a better choice.

God bless,

Jerome in South Carolina

Reginaldus said...

@Jerome in SC,
The Navarre Bible is generally very good.

The best easy commentary (on the Gospels) is the Catena Aurea of St. Thomas Aquinas, which is entirely made up of quotations from the Fathers of the Church.

Also, the commentary given with most editions of Douay-Rheims is very good (if a bit short and simple). [I believe, but I could be remembering incorrectly, that this is (taken from) the Haydock Bible Commentary]

Still, I would generally recommend the Navarre Bible ... just keep your eyes open! :)

Reginaldus said...

I am not Spartacus,
It is certainly clear that the Holy Father is not attempting to put himself within the Catholic Tradition of Biblical Scholarship ... he seems much more intent on beating the modernist historical-critical scholars at their own game ... still, I am quite certain (since he seems himself as such a strong Augustinian and Bonaventurian) that he would ultimately have to side with the 1800 year tradition of the Fathers, Doctors, saints, scholastics, theologians, and exegetes over that of the (mostly heretical [i.e. protestant] "scholars") of the past 200 years.

Reginaldus said...

I am not Spartacus,
I just checked the bibliography which Pope Benedict provides at the end of the first volume ...
there he cites only three Church Fathers (in fact only three individuals from before the 20th Century): St. Bernard, St. Cyprian, St. Augustine ... each of them are cited only one time and for only one work.

Particularly insightful are the Holy Father's words on John's Gospel: "From among all the literature on St. John's Gospel my principal source has been the three-volume commentary by Rudolf Schnackenburg."
Now, as such a huge fan of Augustine and as a self-professed Augustinian, I am more than certain that Pope Benedict is aware of St. Augustine's commentary on John and of the fact that this is widely recognized as the greatest theological work of the early Church. Certainly, the Pope has read Auguistine's masterpiece -- probably many times!
Moreover, St. Bonaventure's commentary on John is also a masterpiece -- and we all know that Benedict sees himself as a disciple of Bonaventure.

Why then would he not use these works in his book? Because he is not trying to set himself within the Catholic Tradition of Biblical Scholarship ... he is trying to instead to set out and defeat the rationalists and modernists at their own game!
[I myself am not interested in defeating the historical critical method with the same method, but it has long been the pet project of Ratzinger ...]

Finally, as to whether the Holy Father thinks that John the Apostle is an Evangelist ... I am certain that he celebrates the feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist -- whatever he says in his book, I am certain that he prays to St. John as an Apostle and Evangelist.

I am not Spartacus said...

Dear Father Reginaldus. I readily concede you are far more informed about these matters than am I and so I hope you are spot on in your assessment of Our Holy Father's intent.

Still, is it not distressing to Peter and Pam Pewdwella that protestant sources seem to predominate?

Well, let me rewrite that question as a simple declarative statement.

It greatly troubles me that The Holy Father so often sources his opinions in protestant exegesis.

For Lord's sake, every single word of the New Testament was written by a Catholic and the New Testament is the sole defender and explained of it but Peter and Pam Pewdwella are going to be encouraged to go out and purchase the books of the protestants who so prominently appear in the Pope's books.

In any event, I have written what has me troubled and you have been gracious enough to reply and so I will now drop it.

Anonymous said...

I am curious concerning the invocation of St. Augustine. Both reginaldus and Fr. Cornelius a' Lapide cite him in support of the thesis that Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalene are the same person. Neither gives a direct source.

I did my best to look, and what I found was in St. Augustine's Harmony of the Gospels (apologies for the catty sidenote from the 19th century editor), where he does argue that the same woman anointed Jesus twice, and that it was Mary of Bethany, but I cannot see that he establishes a link to Mary Magdalene.

Perhaps I'm overlooking something.

FrH

Reginaldus said...

FrH,
I too am unclear on all this ... certainly Augustine identifies Mary of Bethany with the Penitent Woman, but I don't know where he makes the final jump to the Magdalene (though it would be natural since she is closely connected by St. Luke between Luke 7 and 8).

Gregory the Great gives the strongest argument for the connection of all three.

Still, St. Augustine does all the hard work ... if Mary of Bethany and the Penitent are one and the same, then we will very quickly conclude (with Gregory and the whole Western tradition) that Mary of Bethany is the Magdalene.

The Navarre Bible (and all the rest) completely dismisses even the connection St. Augustine makes -- they say, two anointings MUST mean two women ... quite silly indeed.

Anonymous said...

I looked for a reference in St. Cyprian without success (which doesn't prove it isn't there). That leaves us with no definite recorded statement that Mary of Bethany = Mary Magdalene before St. Gregory.

The problem with waiting for St. Gregory to make the link is that it means that no one said anything about the connection for 550 years. I realize that arguments from silence are tenuous things at best, and I further realize that St. Gregory was not the sort to chase off after a whim, but it does make the case less solid than it appears from Fr. Cornelius's presentation.

FrH

Brad said...

Hi Father, may God bless you!

I personally think, and feel, that we are dealing with one Mary here.

Relatedly, I am a staunch believer that the Magdalen was indeed, as is, or at least was..., commonly held, a very rank sinner, a prostitute, whose conversion, in its grandeur, reveals the depth of Christ's salvific power. For me, she has to have been that prostitute in order for Christ's mercy and love to be fully exalted. Total goat to total sheep. With God, not only for God, all things are possible.

Of course nowadays her past is being "rethought", and in so doing, as she is blanched out, the exaltation of Him for what he did in her and for her is also being subtly blanched out, too.

Steve Ray said...

JEROME. Not that he was a leper yet, but having been so, and having been healed by the Saviour, he retained the appellation to shew forth the power of Him who healed him.

RABANUS. Alabaster is a kind of marble, white but marked with veins of different colours, which was in use for vessels to hold ointment, because it was said to preserve it from corruption.

JEROME. Another Evangelist (John 12:3.) instead of ‘alabastrum’ has ‘nardum pisticam,’ that is, genuine, unadulterated.

RABANUS. From the Greek πίστις, faith, whence ‘pisticus,’ faithful. For this ointment was pure, unadulterated.


ORIGEN. Some one may perhaps think that there are four different women of whom the Evangelists have written, but I rather agree with those who think that they are only three; one of whom Matthew and Mark wrote, one of whom Luke, another of whom John.

JEROME. For let no one think that she who anointed His head and she who anointed His feet were one and the same; for the latter washed His feet with her tears, and wiped them with her hair, and is plainly said to have been a harlot. But of this woman nothing of this kind is recorded, and indeed a harlot could not have at once been made deserving of the Lord’s head.

AMBROSE. (in Luc. 7, 37.) It is possible therefore that they were different persons, and so all appearance of contradiction between the Evangelists is removed. Or it is possible that it was the same woman at two different times and two different stages of desert; first while yet a sinner, afterwards more advanced.


Thomas Aquinas, S., & Newman, J. H. (1841). Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, Collected out of the Works of the Fathers, Volume 1: St. Matthew (877). Oxford: John Henry Parker.

Kate said...

Excellent post Father.

I once wrote an essay for a theology course taking pretty much the same line, and got a bollocking for it, reflecting the unfortunate rejection of tradition by modern exegetes!

Your point about the occasional uncritical acceptance of such material by the Navarre Commentary are on the mark too. I use it in the absence of anything better, but squirm every time I come across something that contradicts Pontifical Bible Commission rulings and the tradition...

On the Holy Father, I would note that his book is not magisterial, and as you say, is an attempt to some extent to show the problems of modern methodologies by using them. But when he does talk magisterially, he is always careful to line up with tradition.

On the question of the authorship of St John's Gospel for example, I would refer I am not Sparatus to his three General Audiences on St John back in 2007. In the second one, he doesn't hesitate to discuss the Gospel in the same context as the letters of St John and attribute them to the apostle.

In the third one (on Revelation), he alludes to the debate but is very careful indeed:

"And let us immediately note that while neither the Fourth Gospel nor the Letters attributed to the Apostle ever bear his name, the Book of Revelation makes at least four references to it (cf. 1: 1, 4, 9; 22: 8). It is obvious, on the one hand, that the author had no reason not to mention his own name, and on the other, that he knew his first readers would be able to precisely identify him..."

He then goes on to allude to the third century and later debates about his identity, but without lending any support whatsoever to doubts on this front.

Michelangelo said...

Hi Father,

Excellent post! In grammar school the nuns taught us that the three Marys were the same person. To 'spartacus, I'm sure Fr. Reginaldus will agree that what the Pope is doing in using protestant sources along with his comprehensive mastery of the subject, is to adhere to the rules of academic debate: you go onto the field of your opponent to frame your argument. This way you can "reason" with him, and please God, if your opponent is a man of good will, he will admit that you have won on his turf. God bless you.

Reginaldus said...

Steve Ray,
Augustine clearly connects the woman in Luke 7 (Penitent) with the woman in John 11 (Mary of Bethany) -- commenting on John 11:1-2, from the Catena Aurea:
Augustine: "John here confirms the passage in Luke, where this is said to have taken place in the house of one Simon a pharisee: Mary had done this act therefore on a former occasion. That she did it again at Bethany is not mentioned int he narrative of Luke, but is in the other three Gospels."

I recognize that this tradition is not much older than Augustine (it is only hinted at by Ambrose) ... but it is striking to note how quickly it was accepted by all of good will ... Gregory the Great developed it still further (connecting Mary of Bethany more clearly with Mary Magdalene) ... and so it has been received by the Church even to our own day: Since we do not celebrate a separate feast of Mary of Bethany but rather commemorate the Magdalene such that Martha of Bethany falls on her octave day.


I do not argue that one simply must accept the Mary Magdalen is Mary of Bethany ... I only state that to dismiss this tradition out of hand (as though it were utterly absurd) is insanity and intellectual suicide.

Reginaldus said...

Kate,
Thanks for the comment and for the info about Pope Benedict!
Peace to you, and keep up the fight!

Reginaldus said...

It is interesting to note that the first written evidence of a belief that Jesus appeared first to his Mother (rather than to Mary Magdalene) comes with St. Anselm (the reference to St. Ambrose is incorrect).
Now, this belief [to which I am quite open] is accepted by nearly all people ... and it only became popular in the Middle Ages.

Why then are people so critical of the fact that Augustine and Gregory the Great are the two principal proponents of the connection between the Penitent, Mary of Bethany, and the Magdalene? These two are much much earlier than Anselm!
As far as traditions go, the Mary Magdalene tradition is one of the oldest, and has a strong Scriptural basis. [it is much older and more well founded in Scripture than the tradition of the apparition to our Lady after the Resurrection, for example]

If we think of Mary Magdalene as the penitent who converts (as nearly all the faithful have since the time of the later Fathers), then we have connected her with the Penitent woman of Luke 7. But Luke 7 is pretty clearly connected with John 11 and 12.
Mary of Bethany is almost certainly the Penitent of Luke 7 -- she who anointed Jesus.
And it is likewise almost certain (even in popular devotion of the people) that Mary Magdalene is the Penitent woman.
Therefore, the Magdalene and the sister of Martha are most likely one and the same -- and this tradition is both ancient and wide-spread.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. I'm afraid you have answered your own questions about "why" modern Catholic biblical scholars ignore the Church Fathers. I was told in school this is because the Church Fathers were not smart enough to use the historical critical method (they didn't use the word "smart" enough, but that is what they meant). THAT is why everything that came before is ignored. Because the historical critical method was supposed to make the exegesis of previous generations totally obsolete.

I'm not kidding.

That is what the professors were saying.

TS

Nick said...

Hello Father,

I followed this link from your March 30, 2012, post on the last week of Jesus's life.

I have done personal investigation into the Scriptural accounts and there is very probable evidence that:

(1) there were two Anointings that
(2) took place in Bethany, in the same house,
(3) of a man named Simon, who was a Leper, and 'surnamed' Lazarus. (i.e. Simon, the Leper, and Lazarus are the same person) and thus,
(4) this means that Mary of Bethany (sister of Martha, brother of Simon), the "Sinful Woman", and "the Woman", mentioned in all 4 Gospel accounts are all the same person as well.

The alternate views, e.g. three anointings, multiple Simons and multiple Marys, are exegetically WEAK and lousy.

HOWEVER, along with FrH, I have not seen Fr Laptide or anyone else show the *exegetical* rationale for why Mary Magdalen must be included here. Magdalene is only mentioned in Luke 8:2, so at most people are saying it's a maybe that she is the same Mary of Luke 7 at the Anointing. Magdalene is said to have had demons, where as Mary Beth is said to be a sinner. Those could be synonymous, but that's implicit evidence at best.

Another piece of *implicit* evidence that I don't see you mention is what the Catholic Encyclopedia (I think) mentioned, and that is this that Jesus concludes the anointings by saying this is preparation for His burial and that "wherever the Gospel is preached this story of this woman will be told" (Mt 26:12f; Mk 14:8f; Jn 12:7). The only Mary of any prominence at the Resurrection accounts is Mary Magdalene, who appears out of nowhere since she's not (really) mentioned earlier in the Gospels. It could be implicitly argued that Jesus rewarded these Anoinitings by letting this same Mary Magdalene be the first to witness His Resurrection. This would be fitting, but again not 'direct' proof.

P.S. Blogger's new layout has DISABLED the option for Commentators to "Subscribe by Email" to new comments. To get this option back, you have to go to Settings and enable "Embedded Comments". This would help. Thanks. God Bless.

Anonymous said...

Dear Father,

According to your blog

Indeed, if Mary Magdalene is not also Mary of Bethany, then we come to the awkward conclusion that Mary of Bethany is not venerated in the Roman Catholic Church – since there is no feast of “St. Mary of Bethany”,

The latest edition of the Martyrologium Romanum
MMIV commemorates Mary of Bethany on 29 of July
and mentions she is the sibling of Martha and Lazarus.

Hence, the argument here that Mary Magdalene is identical to Mary of Bethany immediately collapsed. The Roman Catholic Church has adopted the Greek Orthodox view that there are thee distinct persons. Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany and the Penitent Woman.

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@Anon 9:57am,
Please use a pseudonym

29 July is the feast of St Martha (new and old), so it is no surprise that Mary of Bethany would also be commemorated on this day as well.

The new Martyrology need not be read as contradicting the whole western tradition ... just as there are more commemorations than one of St Paul, and there is still only one St Paul (and this goes for a great number of saints who are remembered on numerous days in the martyrology), so too we ought to hold that Mary of Bethany is commemorated with her sister on the octave of her proper feast day (St Mary Magdalene, July 22).

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