Who Was Mary of Magdala?
What’s in a namesake?
This year, one of my beloved aunties turned eighty. She rides her bike every day. She attends choir rehearsal every week. And she loves to travel. Everyone knows her as Auntie Maddy.
I was shocked when I learned many years ago that Maddy’s real name is Mary Magdalene. I questioned how any parent could name a daughter after a notorious prostitute, albeit a repentant one.
I needed to know more about Mary of Magdala.
I found that basically there are two schools of thought, and they seem to be regional. The churches in the East honor her as the apostle to the apostles. The churches in the West have traditionally portrayed her as a repentant sinner. Both schools present biblical proof for their claims.
The churches in the East point out that she stayed by Jesus even as he was dying on the cross (Matthew 27:55–56, Mark 15:40–41, and John 19:25). She also was present when he was laid in the tomb (Matthew 27:61 and Mark 15:47). Even more importantly, she was the first (John 20:1–10), or among the first, to arrive at the empty tomb (Matthew 28:1–8, Mark 16:1–8, and Luke 24:1–12). And she was the first (Mark 16:9–11 and John 20:14–18), or among the first (Matthew 28:9), to meet the risen Christ and announce his resurrection to the apostles (John 20:18).