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Nevertheless I cannot think that Mary Magdalene is there meant.
One reason here offers from the history itself, at ver. 27, where she is said to be " a woman in the city," in which our Lord then was; which, according to most harmonizers of the gospels, was either Capernaum or Naim; whereas there can be no reason to believe that Mary Magdalene resided at either of those places. Says Mr. James Macknight, Harm. sect. xliii. p. 134, ' 'H paydayun, the Magdalene or Magdalite, probably from Magdala, the place of her na'tivity, a town situated somewhere beside the lake, and ' mentioned, Matt. xv. 29.'
A passage at the beginning of the next chapter of St. Luke's gospel deserves particular attention; which, therefore, shall be here recited. "And it came to pass afterwards, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching, and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits, and infirmities; Mary, called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, and Joanna, wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others. Which ministered to him of their substance," ch. viii. 1-3.
This text affords divers reasons for thinking, that Mary Magdalene is not the woman intended in the preceding chapter.
In the first place, it hence appears, that Mary Magdalene was a woman of quality. But it is very uncommon for such to deserve the character given, ch. vii. 37, "a woman in the city which was a sinner." And the pharisee, at whose house our Lord was then entertained, " spake with himself, saying: This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who, and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him. For she is a sinner."
Mr. Macknight, again, argues to the like purpose, p. 134, Mary Magdalene seems rather to have been a woman far as I have observed, they are the same, where there are any contents at all. But it is not to be supposed that they represent the sense of all learned men in general. For in an English Bible in the quarto form, printed in the reign of queen Elizabeth in 1599, by the deputies of Christopher Barker, the summary of that paragraph in Luke vii. is this: The sinful woman washeth Jesus' feet.' In Pool's English Annotations it is this: Eating at Simon's house, a woman washeth his feet with tears,' &c. And in Dr. Clarke's Paraphrase, the same paragraph is briefly expressed in this manner: Jesus shows by the similitude of a forgiven debtor, that repenting sinners often exceed other men in zeal and piety.' I might refer to others; but these instances are sufficient to show, that not a few learned men have declined naming the woman there spoken of, and that they have not been satisfied she was the same with Mary Magdalene.
' of high station and opulent fortune, being mentioned by St. Luke even before Joanna, the wife of so great a man as 'Herod's steward. Besides, the other evangelists, when they ' have occasion to speak of our Lord's female friends, com'monly assign the first place to Mary Magdalene.' As Matt. xxvii. 56, 61; xxviii. 1; Mark. xv. 40, 47. And see Luke xxiv. 10. But John xix. 25, affords an exception.
Grotius, in his Annotations upon Matt. xxviii. 1, speaks to the like purpose. He likewise thinks, it was at her expense, chiefly, that the spices were prepared for embalming the body of Jesus.
To which I would add, that the precedence, just taken notice of, may have been, partly, owing to her age.
Secondly, In the text, which we are now considering, Mary Magdalene is mentioned with other women," who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities." And of her is said, "out of whom went seven devils." Which is also observed by another evangelist, Mark. xvi. 9. She therefore was one of those, who are sometimes called demoniacs, and had been possessed, as we generally say, by evil spirits.d
Accordingly, Dr. Lardner, in his case of the demoniacs, mentioned in the New Testament, has several times taken notice of Mary Magdalene. At p. 104, 105, he says: What
was Mary's case, appears in general by St. Luke's account. 'ch. viii. 1,2-Here Mary is reckoned among those, whom ' our Lord had healed of infirmities, and such infirmities, as were ascribed to evil spirits.'
But I do not think, we can with certainty conclude from those words, what was her particular affliction, be'cause the Jews in those times imputed a great variety of distempers to the influence of demons. But though we 'dare not say positively, what was her case, whether a dis' tempered frame of mind, or epilepsy, or somewhat else; it
appears to me very evident, that some natural, not moral 'distemper, is hereby intended, and that by seven demons ' is meant many; a certain number being put for an uncer
tain. It was supposed, as in the case of the man, who called ' himself legion, that more than one demon, or unclean spi
c' Maria Magdalene.'] Quam, ut ducem agminis, Matthæus nominat. Et credo ab eâ factos præcipue sumptus. Sane cæteris nobilior fuisse videtur, quia nomen ejus aliis præponi solet. Grot. in Matt. xxviii. 1.
Dr. Clarke's Paraphrase of Luke viii. 2, is thus: particularly, Mary Magdalene, whom he had miraculously delivered from evil spirits, that had 'possessed her.'
rit, was concerned in inflicting, or aggravating the infir'mity, which she had been afflicted with, and which our blessed Lord graciously removed.'
Thirdly, In this text Mary Magdalene is mentioned with divers other honourable women, who attended our Lord in his journies, and ministered to him of their substance.
But it may be justly questioned, whether our Lord would have allowed of that, if Mary's conduct had been unreputable in the former part of her life. For though he received such an one as a penitent, and assured her of the forgiveness of her sins it would not be easily reconciled with the rules of prudence to admit such a person to a stated attend
This argument has affected the minds of many learned men.f
Nor can it be imagined, that any women of distinction
Among them, whether she be expressly named or not, was our Lord's mother. And undoubtedly an exact decorum was observed, according to the Jewish custom.
Nor were they idle. As Jerom says, they provided for
Of that attendance Grotius speaks in this manner. More Judaïco, ut recte notat Hieronymus, mulieres, viduæ præsertim, solebant magistris necessaria suppeditare. Quod secuti sunt apostoli inter Judæos, Paulus inter Gentes omisit, ne sinisterioris sermonis ansam præberet. Maluit autem Christus admittere hoc beneficium, quam cum apostolorum comitatu gravis esse ignotis, ad quos adventabat. Grot. ad Luc. viii. 1.
Sed et de vità Magdalenæ ante actâ nihil plane constat, nisi quod abludere a majestate Domini videatur, quod in comitatu suo mulierem ob impuritates suas infamem voluerit circumducere Neque consulit huic difficultati Nat. Alexander, quoad ansa omni scandalo per illustrem atque inter Judæos notam pœnitentiam præcisa fuerit. Nimis enim efferata erat Judæorum malitia, quam ut eapropter a conviciis cessaturi essent. Lampe in Joan. Evang. cap. xix. T. III. p. 608. Vid. et Basnag. Ann. 31. num. xlii.
B -secutæ sunt Jesum non otiosa, sed facientes quæ mandabantur ab
our Lord's accommodation in his food and garments. And possibly, Mary Magdalene presided in the direction of the affairs which were under their care.
When they accompanied our Lord in any of his journies, they may have followed at a distance, and in a separate band. And, as may be well supposed, they had some female servants of their own.
The woman called "a sinner," was absolutely excludedfrom having any part in that company. When she came into the room where our Lord was, and gave proofs of repentance, he graciously and openly received her as a penitent. Having delivered the similitude of two forgiven debtors, he addressed the pharisee, at whose house he was, in these words: "Wherefore, I say unto thee, her sins, which are many, are forgiven," Luke vii. 47. Afterwards, at ver. 48," And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.". Finally, at ver. 50, " And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee. Go in peace." Nor could any unprejudiced men disallow our Lord's ability to discern her real temper, and to pronounce a right sentence, after he had shown to the pharisee himself, that he knew his inmost thoughts.
In all this our blessed Lord acted agreeably to his great design, which was to bring sinful men to repentance. And he faithfully discharged the important commission that had been given him, which was "to seek and to save that which was lost," Matt. xviii. 11; Luke xix. 10.
But it cannot be reasonably supposed, that he would admit such a person into the number of his stated attendants. And I believe, that they who attentively observe our Lord's history, as recorded in the gospels, may perceive his life to have been an example of admirable wisdom and prudence, as well as of the strictest virtue, and the most generous goodness and compassion.
Let us now sum up the evidence, so far as we have gone. Mary of Magdala was a woman of distinction, and very easy in her worldly circumstances. For a while she had laboured under some bodily indisposition, which our Lord miraculously healed. For which benefit she was ever after very thankful. So far as we know, her conduct was always reeo, et delectabant eum. Ministrantes enim sequebantur eum. Orig. in Matt. Item. 35. num. 141. p. 929. T. III. ed. Bened.
Consuetudinis Judaicæ fuit, nec ducebatur in culpam, more gentis antiquo, ut mulieres de substantiâ suâ victum atque vestitum præceptoribus ministrarent, &c. Hieron. in Matt. xxvii. tom. IV. p. 140. Bened.
''Ουτω και αυτή αρχηγος των μαθητριών γενομενη. κ. λ. Modest. ap. Phot.
Cod. 275, p. 1526.
gulár, and free from censure. And we may reasonably believe, that after her acquaintance with our Saviour it was edifying and exemplary. I conceive of her, as a woman of a fine understanding, and known virtue and discretion, with a dignity of behaviour becoming her age, her wisdom, and her high station. By all which she was a credit to him, whom she followed as her Master and benefactor. She showed our Lord great respect in his life, at his death, and after it. And she was one of those, to whom he first showed himself after his resurrection. As appears from Matt. xxviii. 1-10; Mark xvi. 9; and John xx. 1–18.
I am very unwilling to trouble you with the intricacies of criticism. But I fear, my argument will not be reckoned conclusive by all, unless I proceed a little farther, and take notice of some other things. For by some it has been supposed, that Mary, sister of Lazarus, was the same as Mary Magdalene. And by some it has been thought, that Mary, sister of Lazarus, is the same as the woman called " a sinner."
First, Some have supposed, that Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus, was the same as Mary Magdalene. This is an assertion of Baronius, who was confuted by Isaac Casaubon, G. J. Vossius, and others. Grotius" likewise has well argued against that opinion.
Indeed I think it is very manifest, that they are different persons. For, 1. Mary Magdalene was so called from a place situated in Galilee. Lazarus and his sisters were inhabitants of Bethany near Jerusalem in Judea, properly so called. John xi. 1, and elsewhere. 2. Mary Magdalene is frequently named with other women, who attended our Lord in his journies, and came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem at the times of the great feasts, as we have seen. But Lazarus and his sisters resided at Bethany. Nor do we read of any attendance, which either of those sisters gave our Lord, except at the place of their ordinary residence. St. Luke has recorded a visit, which our Lord made there, not improbably, as he was going up to the feast of the dedication, mentioned John x. 22," And it came to pass,"
* In primis dicimus, attestatione Joannis Evangelista, immo Christi, apertissime constare, unam eandemque personam fuisse Mariam Lazari et Marthæ sororem cum Maria Magdalena. Baron. Ann. 32. num. xix.
1 Exercit. Antibar. xix. num. xi.
Longius vero a januâ, quod dicitur, videntur mihi aberâsse, qui arbitrantur, Mariam, a quâ Dominus, priusquam pateretur, inunctus fuit, Mariam fuisse Magdalenam- -Hæc enim non eâ notâ ab aliis distinguitur Mariis, quod inunxerit Dominum, sed quod Dominus ex eâ septem ejecerit dæmonia. G. J. Voss. Harm. Ev. 1. 1. c. 3. sect. vii. n Vid. Grot. in Matt. xxvi. 6.