What Jesus Learned from Mary of Bethany

tiana_101 (Posted by) Level 3
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Across the Gospel tradition, a trio of siblings who reside in Bethany make several highly significant appearances. Lazarus gets most of the attention, perhaps understandably, not always being singled out as possibly the author of the Fourth Gospel, but because he is central to a story in which he is raised from the dead, which was bound to draw attention. But his sisters do not deserve to be neglected, and they are also said to be close friends of Jesus.

Lazarus probably reflects the Galilean pronunciation of the name Eleazar (see Ruth Edwards, Discovering John). This raises an interesting question: does this suggest that Lazarus and/or his family were from Galilee? We would expect Jesus to rely on extended family and other similar connections when traveling.

Story - Mary - Martha - Gospel - Luke

The story of Mary and Martha in the Gospel of Luke is an important one that is often discussed as an expression of Jesus’ view of women. Kate Cooper writes in Band of Angels, “Luke gives us a Jesus who wants to change the place of women in the spiritual landscape…Luke sends a clear message that Jesus welcomed women to his circle of disciples” (p.42).

The question that I want to raise is whether this was already true prior to this incident, or becomes Jesus’ stance during and as a result of it. I would have expected things to unfold differently if Jesus had already said that women should set aside their usual cultural responsibilities and learn from him the same as men do. Then we might expect Jesus to rebuke Martha and also to praise Mary differently. But note that Jesus does not either criticize Martha for failing to follow his own instructions sbout this sort of matter, or praise Mary...
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