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Women at the Cross and the Tomb of Jesus


What individuals headline any account or news story of a funeral? Universally it is family members of the deceased. Let's us see if we can learn anything about Jesus from the New Testament's lists of women at the cross and tomb of Jesus.

Women at the Cross

Women At the Tomb

Matthew

1) Mary Magdalene
2) Mary the mother of James and Joseph
3) the mother of the sons of Zebedee

Matthew

1) Mary Magdalene
2) the other Mary

Mark

1) Mary Magdalene
2) Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses
3) Salome

Mark

1) Mary Magdalene
2) Mary the mother of James
3) Salome

Luke

(doesn’t name the women at the cross)

Luke

1) Mary Magdalene
2) Joanna
3) Mary the mother of James
4) also the other women with them

John

1) His mother
2) his mother’s sister
3) Mary the wife of Clopas? **
4) Mary Magdalene

** Are “his mother’s sister” and “Mary the wife of Clopas” the same person?

John

1) Mary Magdalene

 

The first thing that jumps out at me from these lists is that Mary Magdalene makes each lists and is the most prominent female among the NT reports of the women at the cross and tomb of Jesus. In my view, that makes her the headliner among the family members, which lends weight to the theory that she was the wife of Jesus.

Even more curious is the treatment of the mother of Jesus. She is only specifically identified once in John 19:25 as being at the cross. However, if we equate "the mother of Jesus" with "Mary the mother of James", then the mother of Jesus makes every list (but one) elevating her to the second most prominently mentioned female at the cross and tomb. If the mother of Jesus was at the cross, as stated by John, then her name should appear on the list of each evangelist. Construing "Mary the mother of James" as equivalent with the mother of Jesus not only gives us a more rational outcome by having each evangelist who listed the women at the cross name the mother of Jesus but also helps harmonize all the names given. One hanging thread with this line of reasoning is Mark's "Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses". James the Less is thought to be a disciple other than James the Just, the brother of Jesus. "Joses" is a shortened form of Joseph so Mark's list conforms with that of Matthew if we strike off "the Less" from the name of James (and Salome = mother of sons of Zebedee). In fact, Mark himself does this in his list of the women at the tomb of Jesus, where this woman is referred to as "Mary the mother of James" only and "the Less" appelation disappears. I submit that Mark 15:40 should be amended to read "Mary the mother of James and Joses".

Why is it important if Mary is also known as the mother of James? If Mary the mother of Jesus is also called "Mary the mother of James" in the NT, then it means Mary was the mother of both Jesus and James. This position, greatly enhanced by the above analysis, weakens the Roman Catholic Church's doctrine of Mary's perpetual virginity. It also strengthens the credentials for James the Just as the leader of the Nazarene faith after the crucifixion of Jesus as opposed to Orthodox Christianity's belief that Peter succeeded Jesus. See also Galatians 1:19 where Paul of Tarsus refers to James as "the Lord's brother".

One may ask why Mary the mother of Jesus would be referred to as "the mother of James"? Why not refer to her as the mother of Jesus? In Middle Eastern cultures of the present day it is common to refer to parents by the name of their child. Recall the press reference to Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, as Abu Mazen. The term "Abu Mazen" means father of Mazen, Mazen being the eldest son of Mahmoud Abbas. Present day Kenyans have the same practice. My wife's sister is referred to within the family as "Momma Peter", Peter being her eldest son. My wife's mother, on the other hand, is referred to as "Momma Carol" even though Carol is her third child. The elder two daughters spent significant time away with their father and went to boarding school. Family and friends remaining in the small town the mother lived in took to referring to her by the name of her third daughter, who the villagers saw regularly (thus dropping reference to the older daughters who were rarely seen in the village after their early teenage years). If Jesus lived away from the family of Mary starting at an early age (perhaps for his education and/or for his own protection), it appears reasonable in my view that Mary the mother of Jesus would be referred to by friends and family as "Momma James".

JJR
10-4-2010


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