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Sunday, 22 July 2018
Mary of Magdala has suffered centuries of “Fake News”
... right down to the present day with Dan Browns book, followed by the film
...its no wonder we aren’t sure what to believe about her.
Our popular image of Mary of Magdala tends to weave together elements that belong to other women in the Gospels, like the ‘woman of ill repute’ who anointed Jesus feet [ Luke ch 7 v37-50 ]& yet there is no evidence whatsoever to support this. She was not a penitent prostitute but must have been a highly respected, wealthy lady, to be mentioned along with Joanna the wife of Chusa, Herod’s Steward [ Luke Ch 8 v 2-3.]travelling alongside the Twelve close followers of Jesus and “providing for them out of their own resources”.
|Mary Magdalene : He Qi|
Some years ago now I began painting a series of Easter Stations, to counterbalance the emphasis on Stations of the Cross. Zoning in on John’s Gospel for this, I began thinking about Mary of Magdala [John ch 20 v 1... ]
But my mind went back to memories of Lincoln Cathedral with its small side-Chapel dedicated to Mary of Magdala...a wonderful oasis of silent prayer...and its altar-frontal with a beautifully simple embroidered image in the shape of an eye with an alabaster jar of ointment, feet and tears. “Yes”, I thought: “Begin here and paint Mary of Magdala before and after the crucifixion...”
Halfway through this painting of the anointing of Jesus feet, I realised this could not be part of a Mary of Magdala series, as John ch 12 clearly shows Mary of Bethany, sister of Lazarus was the one who anointed Jesus feet towards the end of Jesus life...a completely different Mary! [And, incidentally, another occasion altogether from the one in Luke’s Gospel.]
So I started again...focusing on John ch 20, imagining what it might have been like to set out for the tomb early in the morning “while it was still dark...”
|Darkness before dawn|
How do you visualise this scene...?