J. K. Gayle at Aristotle’s Feminist Subject and I are trading links about The Samaritan Woman and now Mary Magdalene. He was a wonderful round-up of quotes, articles, and books on Mary Magdalene in today’s post, “Reviving Mary Magdalene: Emergency Rescue Work.” Today’s post and yesterday’s post, “The Actually Good Samaritan, A Woman” along with my post yesterday discuss how the Church (for millennia) demonized both The Samaritan Woman and Mary Magdalene as prostitutes. Just because The Samaritan Woman had five husbands and now lived with a man, who was not her husband, does not make her a whore (being a multiple widow and Levirate marriage are two of the options). Just because Mary Magdalene is first mentioned in Luke after the anointing of the sinful woman does not make her a prostitute (it doesn’t make the sinful woman one either in Luke 7. Luke says “sinful”–not prostitute, another male assumption: why else would a woman be called “sinful”? Like she couldn’t have been beating her kids).
I decided today would be a good day to re-post the sneak peak I gave my readers last year of Mary Magdalene from my book, Career Woman of the Bible. This was originally posted on August 18, 2010. (Don’t forget to go read all the good stuff J. K. has gathered on these two women!)
The Apostle to the Apostles: Mary Magdalene
Mary counted up the money her servant brought her from Magdala from her business there. She exported dried and salted fish to the rest of Israel as well as the Gentile areas around the Sea of Galilee. The last couple of months had been good for the business. Mary was glad because they were running low on funds Jesus needed for his itinerant ministry. The money seemed to go faster and faster; she began to wonder about Judas carrying the money bag for the group. Mary started to follow Jesus a few months ago after he healed her from seven demons. They plagued her since her husband died. She had been able to function and keep them at bay for a long time and succeeded in taking over her husband’s business. It hadn’t been that hard: after all she helped her husband with the business after they were married. But there had been a learning curve, especially dealing with the merchants who shipped her fish. She smiled. She was one of the best hagglers in Magdala now.
All of that changed when she met Jesus. By that time, she was on the verge of going mad. She fought and fought the voices, but they won. All she heard was what they told her: her husband’s death was her fault, she’d bankrupt the business, why was she still alive? She didn’t deserve to live. Look at how everyone looks at you. She became a hermit. Her faithful servant kept the business running and lied for her. He told people who asked she was traveling, spending some time in Jerusalem and Alexandria. She hadn’t left her house for months when she heard Jesus was in town. Sitting by her window, where she could hear news, but not be seen, she heard of the exorcisms. This prophet cast demons out of people. For the first time in a year she felt a twinge of hope. May be it didn’t have to be this way. One day people crowded outside her house and talked about Jesus. He must be near by. Mary made a decision. She put on her widow’s weeds and covered her face with her veil. Steeling herself and taking a deep breath, she slipped out of the door into the crowd then she started pushing her way through the crowd in the direction everyone walked in. Slipping between people and ducking under arms, she finally made it to the front of the crowd. When she felt like she had a shred of courage, she looked up. Jesus was looking straight at her.
Suddenly the voices went crazy in her head: No not him! He’s the Son of the Godde! He’ll cast us into the abyss! Run you whore run! Mary grabbed her head and screamed. Words came flying out of her mouth but she didn’t know what she was saying. She heard a quiet voice, quiet but full of authority. She never heard such authority before. She stood straight up, and everything was quiet. Not just the crowds. Her head was quiet, the voices gone. She wasn’t mad anymore. Looking into the eyes of the man who freed her, she knew who he was. In front of her stood the Messiah himself. The Redeemer of Israel. She fell to the ground and said, “My lord.” Gentle hands raised her up and he said, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
That had been a year ago. Mary knew that wherever he went, she would follow. She ran home, and her servant was ecstatic to see her back to her normal self. After she told him what happened, she put him in charge of the business, packed a bag and followed Jesus.