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Who is Mary Magdalene?

After a recent archeological dig which discovered “remnants of a first-century synagogue” in Magdala, ChurchLeader’s Yonat Shimron, connects the remains to the history of Mary Magdalene.

Headlines about the temple discovery read: “2nd-Temple-period synagogue found where Gospel’s Mary Magdalene was born.” But, as Shimron points out, “two scholars . . . are calling into question the quick assumption that the town is the birthplace of Mary Magdalene, one of Jesus’ earliest followers and the first witness to his resurrection.”

Mary Magdalene is one of the most famous women in the New Testament; however Elizabeth Schrader, Ph.D. student at Duke University, and Joan Taylor, professor at King’s College, London, debate wether or not she is really the woman people thought she was.

Shimron explains the Schrader and Taylor’s belief is Mary Magdalene’s name “may well be an honorific from the Hebrew and Aramaic roots for ‘tower’  or ‘magnified.'” She compares this endearment to calling Peter “rock.”

The author quotes the Journal of Biblical Literature’s December issue, “Several ancient authors actually understood Mary’s nickname to be rooted in her character rather than her provenance.”

“Scholars are reexamining the Gospels and early Christian writings in an effort”, Shimron attests, “to recover the real Mary from the diminished figure that emerged from the pens of the early church fathers.”

Taylor proves Magdala, the town itself, did not receive its name at the time of Jesus: “At that time, there was a city called Tarichaea, which is mentioned by Josephus and Pliny. But it was never called Magdala in the Roman period.”

While many researchers are attempting to place Mary Magdalene’s origin in Magdala, Shimron writes,”situating Mary in Magdala also shuts the door to Mary’s legacy.”

Scharader concludes this attempt to honor Mary: “If you say she’s from Magdala it eliminates the possibility that ‘Magdalene’ indicates a title of a more prominent disciple.”

You can read the full article here.

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