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Mary Magdalene: Apostle or harlot?


The following ran on the March 27, 2013, edition of the United Methodist News Service. Religious studies professor Mark Chancey provided expertise for this story.

April 5, 2013

By Heather Hahn

You’ve got to feel bad for Mary Magdalene.
Sure, she has fame many of today’s celebrities would envy. She’s played a leading role in works ranging from Renaissance paintings to just about every Passion play and movie made about Jesus’ life. But all that stardom has come with a price.
Few other followers of Jesus have been saddled with such a notorious reputation. She’s the reformed harlot who is the polar opposite of the Virgin Mary. Or, thanks to the best-selling thriller “The Da Vinci Code,” she’s seen as Jesus’ secret love interest. If she were a celebrity today, she would get salacious headlines on TMZ and an unflattering photo on the cover of US Weekly.

Lost in all the speculation about her love life is the biblical record. The New Testament never identifies her as a prostitute, former or otherwise, and certainly not as Jesus’ would-be girlfriend.
The Bible shows Mary Magdalene as an important disciple of Jesus — the one witness to the Crucifixion and Resurrection identified in all four canonical Gospels. In three Gospels, she encounters the risen Christ. In the Gospel of John, she is the first person to testify to the good news that Christ has conquered death.
This Easter Sunday, United Methodists and other Christians around the world will hear that account ...

“I always say it was the church hierarchy that drove Mary Magdalene to prostitution,” said Mark A. Chancey, professor of religious studies at United Methodist-related Southern Methodist University in Dallas and co-author of “Alexander to Constantine: Archaeology of the Land of the Bible.”...


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