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The term 'apostle' is a term from the Greek referring to one 'sent out' as in a messanger or representative carrying out a duty or errand. Traditionally, the church has used the term to refer to the disciples who were sent by Jesus on a mission (errand) to share the witness of the Gospel, just as he had been sent by God (Heb.3.1

Ephesians states they are a gift to the Body of Christ: "He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers to equip the saints for the work of the ministry"(Eph. 4.11-12).

So, let us examine the story in John of Mary Magdalene, called the "Apostle to the Apostles".

In John 20.14-18 is the story.

Jesus is encountered in the garden, not as a corpse but as glorified redeemer and tells her..."go (poreuou) to my brothers (adelphous) and say (eipe) to them."....

Mary went and "announced (angellousa)...I have seen the Lord and he had said these things to her."

It becomes clear that Jesus
a) could have told them himself but instead uses a messanger and the messenger was Mary;
b) he gave clear instructions in the message to inform his absent followers of the fulfilment of his teachings;
c) Mary shares her witness (I have seen the Lord) and he said these things....

This was the role of the apostle - to be the messanger of the good news to share the message, to share their personal knowledge and witness of its truth, and to share the words ( teachings) of the one who sent them.....

For a century or more after the time of Jesus this was understood as a role of people in the church. Yet, it became narrowly defined to mean only those who had seen -w ith their own eyes - the works of Jesus and his first disiciples. Two hundred years later it is already being replaced as an active role in the new church.

Just as, over 2,000 years later, it is being narrowly defined as referring only to the male followers of Jesus.

The disciples (student learners) were, at the Great Commission, the Upper Room, and various other places transformed into apostles. They were sent people with a mission and a message.

How could Mary Magadalene be anything else than an Apostle?



Mary Magdelene has been victimized over the centuries. She has been labeled a prostitute, fallen woman, and other fanciful descriptions which reveal more about the scholars than about her.

1. Are we guilty of bearing false witness against this woman?

2. Why has it been so easy to label this woman as 'fallen' when nothing in scripture leads to that description?

What we know from scripture is that she was from a place called Magdela, she had seven demons which Jesus cast from her, and she was a faithful and constant presence in his ministry from then until she ran to inform his male followers he had risen from the dead.

1. Why do we first assume she was a young, vital, and beautiful woman? The success of the theory assuming Jesus and Mary were a couple is predicated on the assumption she was young, but on what is this based?

2. Earliest chuch writers recognized her first as 'the apostle to the apostles' yet soon she was denigraded to a fallen woman....and we have allowed her to stay there since then.

After that, events are less clear. Some sources based on early legends of the church say she became a companion to Mary the Mother, may have assisted John in writing his Gospel and may have traveled to Epheseus.

1. If she was an more mature woman there would be fewer 'stories' of her post-resurrection because she would have died.

2. The strong model of the 'wise woman' and the 'mother in Israel' from Judaism and the O.T. needs to be considered when interpreting the role of women in the nascent Christ-followers. This is something early, Greek and Roman and European scholars and clerics, may have totally missed. Women did have those roles or honors in those societies so naturally in the early formalized church these roles are minimized and controled and eventually eliminated.


Noel Brooks: A Life Shining and Burning, 1914-2006



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