Deep Dive: The Marys


There are a bunch of Marys in the Gospels (four to be exact), so it’s tricky to keep them separate. As you can guess, Mary was a really common name in Jesus’s day; supposedly one in five women in first-century Palestine was named Mary! With all the Marys out there you can see why some of the ones below were identified by their home town, such as Mary of Bethany, or their family relations, such as Mary the wife of Clopas.

The Four Marys of the Gospels

    • Mary the mother of Jesus
    • Mary Magdalene, a disciple who Jesus healed from demon possession in Luke 8:2 (and who was not, in fact, the same woman who washed his feet with perfume in Luke 7:36-50).
    • Mary the mother of James and Joseph/Joses, a disciple who is likely also the “other Mary” of Matthew 27:61 and “Mary the wife of Clopas” from John 19:25.
    • Mary of Bethany, the sister of Lazarus (John 11:1-3), a disciple who is often confused with Mary Magdalene.

One interesting aspect of Jesus’s female disciples is their role in Jesus’s death and resurrection; while all the male disciples have fled in fear, Jesus’s female followers are present for Jesus’s death and are the first at the tomb to care for Jesus’s body.

Present at the crucifixion (John 19:25):

    • Mary the mother of Jesus
    • Mary the wife of Clopas
    • Mary Magdalene

Witnesses to Jesus’s resurrection (Matt. 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, & John 20):

    • Mary Magdalene
    • Mary the mother of James and Joseph/Joses
    • Salome, the mother of the two apostles, James and John (who is also Jesus’ aunt, cf.John 19:25)
    • Some unknown additional women are also possible.