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Defining moment


worthy enough to anoint his head. No wonder she came to the tomb on Easter Day with a jar of ointment, ready to anoint him yet again. But the buried body was not there and she is granted an incomparab­ly greater honour in the first sight of the risen Lord.

This Mary Magdalene was no longer just an individual in Jesus’ entourage. She had become a symbol of all Christians, men and women alike: sinful, penitent, forgiven, restored and finally to be blessed with the sight of Jesus himself. And so she remained in Christian teaching and imaginatio­n for over 1,000 years. However, there were flaws in this story. The penitent prostitute in Luke’s gospel is anonymous — Luke does not link her with the Mary Magdalene whom he introduces in his next scene. There is no reason to identify Mary Magdalene with Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus; ‘Mary’ was simply a common name, shared by Jesus’ own mother and at least two of his friends. The Mary Magdalene of the Christian Middle Ages is dissolving before our eyes. This Mary, woven out of the four gospels’ different narratives, may have provided a moving story of Early on what we now know as Easter Sunday, Mary saw the risen Jesus. According to John’s gospel, she was alone and had gone to anoint him with oil — the privilege was entirely hers. John has shaped the whole scene, while the other gospels tell of several women and differ on their sight of Jesus. John’s Mary and Jesus will apparently meet in the new Eden of a new-born world. It was Mary who told of Jesus’ resurrecti­on.

 ??  ?? Mary Magdalene is often depicted covered in hair as she used her locks to dry Jesus’ feet
Mary Magdalene is often depicted covered in hair as she used her locks to dry Jesus’ feet

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