Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | May 23, 2012

14. Hike the Bible – Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene at the Cross

Our virtual hike through Galilee has reached Magdala on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, about 4 miles north of Tiberias. Magdala was a prosperous fishing town of 30,000 to 40,000 in Jesus’ day.

Mary Magdalene
Magdala’s most famous personage is Mary Magdalene, a faithful follower of Jesus throughout His earthly ministry. She was at the foot of the cross, witnessed His burial, and was the first to see Jesus after His Resurrection. This is the first of a series of three blog posts on Mary Magdalene.

The Bible does not actually say that Mary was from Magdala. This is an inference from her moniker Magdalene, analogous to Jesus the Nazarene from Nazareth.

It’s possible that Mary “was called Magdalene” (Luke 8:2), because she was very tall. Magdala means tower in Aramaic as does Migdal in Hebrew. It would distinguish her from others named Mary, just as today we might distinguish one Tom from another by calling one Big Tom. Contemporary slang translations might be “Mega Mary” or “Mary the Tall” or “Mary the Great.” In early Christian art Mary was often depicted as taller than the apostles.

Mary Magdalene, from whom Jesus had cast out seven demons, first appears near the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. She is one of “many” women who traveled with Jesus and the disciples who had been healed of demons and diseases and contributed support from personal funds.

And it came about soon afterwards, that He began going about from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God; and the twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means. (Luke 8:1-3)

Just as in this passage from Luke, Mary Magdalene is usually named first in lists of women around Jesus in the Gospels, many of whom are not even named. Clearly, Mary Magdalene was a person of significance in the Gospels where she is called by name 14 times, plus 23 other references without her name. This is more than any woman except for Mary, the mother of Jesus. For comparison, Jesus’ mother is referred to by name 18 times in the Gospels, plus 25 other references without her name.

The prominence of Mary of Magdala is further underscored by calling her simply “Magdalene” without connecting her to a family. Frequently women in the Gospels were identified by husbands, such as “Joanna the wife of Chuza” (Luke 8:3) or “Mary the wife of Clopas” (John 19:25) and by sons, such as “Mary the mother of James and Joseph” (Mat 27:56; Mark 15:40, 47; 16:1), Salome “the mother of the sons of Zebedee” and sister of Mary the mother of Jesus (Mat 27:56; Mark 15:40; Mark 16:1; John 19:25).

Apparently Mary Magdalene was an independent woman of substantial means. Possibly she was a wealthy widow.

Read the sequel in this 3-part subseries on Mary Magdalene:
15. Hike the Bible – Mary Magdalene, Lady or Tramp?

Soli Deo Gloria.

The Hike the Bible series is currently covering points of interest along two hiking trails through Galilee, the 40-mile Jesus Trail and the 39-mile Gospel Trail. These two trails re-create possible routes Jesus likely traversed during His sojourns in Galilee.

This is the fourteenth installment in the Hike the Bible series reviewing major hiking trails in the Lands of the Bible.
Read the prequels:
1. Hike the Bible – Jesus Trail (with video)
2. Hike the Bible – Gospel Trail (with video)
3. Hike the Bible – Jesus Trail vs. Gospel Trail
4. Hike the Bible – Nazareth
5. Hike the Bible – Zippori
6. Hike the Bible – Mash’had
7. Hike the Bible – Cana (with video)
8. Hike the Bible – Roman Road
9. Hike the Bible – Via Maris
10. Hike the Bible – Horns of Hattin
11. Hike the Bible – Sermon on the Mount
12. Hike the Bible – Arbel Cliffs
13. Hike the Bible – Magdala (with video)

Read the sequel:
15. Hike the Bible – Mary Magdalene, Lady or Tramp?

©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith” (Jude 1:3)
Wednesday May 23, 2012 A.D.

Read my May 2012 newspaper column:

Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. (Matthew 4:23)

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