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’ 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.

So, the resurrection accounts of the four Gospels (Matt. 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, & John 20), it seems as though the women who visited Jesus’ tomb were:

  • Mary Magdalene, 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, who is likely also the “other Mary” of Matthew 27:61 and “Mary the wife of Clopas” from John 19:25
  • 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.

So that’s two of the four Marys in the Gospels; the other two are Jesus’ mother and Mary of Bethany, the sister of Lazarus (who is sometimes confused with Mary Magdalene). Thus there were three Marys at the foot of the cross in John 19:25, Jesus’ mother, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene, and at least two Marys at the tomb on Easter morning.

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