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When we look at the verses discussing the ladies present at the
crucifixion of Christ we can identify two groups of ladies.

The text of John mentions ladies standing close to the cross of

   John  19:25  Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His
                mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the
                wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

            Greek - John 19:25

   Notice, that there is an 'and' between "His mother" and
   "His mother's sister" and also between "Mary of Clopas"
   and "Mary Magdalene".
   However, there is no 'and' between "His mother's sister"
   and "Mary of Clopas".
   (Some translations do not accurately mirror this (eg the NIV
   which leaves out the first 'and'.)

   The absence of the 'and' between 'His mother's sister' and
   'Mary of Clopas', suggests Mary of Clopas was the sister of
   Christ's mother.

Indicating there were three ladies close to the cross;

            - the mother of Jesus
            - His mother's sister, Mary wife of Clopas
            - Mary Magdalene

Clearly the mother of Jesus and His mother's sister were relatives.
So was the Mary Magdalene in John 19:25 also a family member?
After all, it would have been appropriate for older family members
to be close to the cross.

A name similar to Clopas is 'Cleopas'.
Greek for Clopas is Greek - Clopas - John 19:25. Greek for Cleopas is Greek - Cleopas - Luke 24:18.

   Luke  24:18   Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered
                 and said to Him, "Are You the only stranger in
                 Jerusalem, and have You not known the things
                 which happened there in these days?"

                 [NB: Mary of Clopas appears to be the wife of
                      Peter. (It is generally believed that it
                      was Peter and John who were travelling
                      to Emmaus.) ]

The Matthew and Mark texts describe ladies who looked on from afar.

    Matt  27:55  And many women who followed Jesus from Galilee,
                 ministering to Him, were there looking on from
            :56  among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother
                 of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's

    Mark  15:40  There were also women looking on from afar,
                 among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother
                 of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome,
            :41  who also followed Him and ministered to Him when
                 He was in Galilee, and many other women who came
                 up with Him to Jerusalem.

This arrangement of the ladies, both near and far from the cross,

        JOHN  19:25                    MATT 27:56 / MARK 15:40

        (close to the cross,           (far from the cross,
        likely related)                others travelling
                                       from Galilee)

        Mary - mother of Jesus         Mary - mother of James and Joses
        Mary - mother's sister         Mother of Zebedee's sons
             - wife of Clopas          Salome
        Mary Magdalene                 Mary Magdalene

       [NB: Matt 27:56 mentions 'mother of Zebedee's sons' and
            Mark 15:40 mentions 'Salome'. So this raises the
            question of whether the name of the mother of
            Zebedee's sons was Salome. ]


The term Magdalene, is commonly thought to be suggesting a connection
to Magdala (near the Sea of Galilee);

    Matt 15:39  And He sent away the multitude, got into the
                boat, and came to the region of Magdala.

According to Strong's Concordance the word 'Magdala' is a word meaning
'the tower' or 'fortress'.

So what we may have is a Mary from Magdala and another Mary who is
generally considered to be like a 'tower' or 'fortress'.


Scripture provides an elderly candidate who would have been highly

    Matt   8:14  Now when Jesus had come into Peter's house,
                 He saw his wife's mother lying sick with a
            :15  And He touched her hand, and the fever left
                 her. Then she arose and served them.

If Mary mother of Jesus and Mary wife of Peter were full sisters then
this lady would have been Christ's grandmother!

This lady's name is not mentioned, but if her two daughters were named
'Mary' then it is quite likely she was also. Given that this elderly
lady was the mother of Peter's wife and likely the mother of Christ's
mother she would have been held in very high esteem. The descriptive
title 'Magdalene', meaning 'tower' or 'fortress' would have been 

          The Mary Magdalene standing with Christ's mother
          and her sister, could have been the grandmother
          of Christ.


Ladies Saying Nothing

The study of the ladies visiting the tomb of Christ raises some
interesting issues.

    Mark  16:1   Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene,
                 Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought
                 spices, that they might come and anoint Him.
            :8   So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb,
                 for they trembled and were amazed. And they
                 said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Scripture quite clearly states that these three ladies "said nothing
to anyone".

            - Mary Magdalene
            - Mary - of James Greek - Mary of James - Mark 16:1
            - Salome

This is in sharp contrast to other texts which depict Mary Magdalene
and others informing the apostles and disciples.

Ladies Telling the Apostles

    Matt  28:8   So they [Mary Magdalene and the other Mary] went
                 out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy,
                 and ran to bring His disciples word.

    Luke  24:10  It was Mary Magdalene [Greek = "the Magdalene Mary"],
                 Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other
                 women with them, who told these things to the

So these ladies informed others that the tomb was empty and that
angels had told them Christ had risen.

            - Mary Magdalene ["Magdalene Mary"]
            - Joanna
            - Mary - of James Greek - Mary of James - Luke 24:10
            - other women

Luke 24:10 indicates the Mary Magdalene being discussed here is the
'Magdalene Mary'. Presumably, the Mary which had come from Magdala.

Considering these two groups of ladies, clearly shows that not only do
we have two ladies named 'Mary Magdalene', but we also have two ladies
identified as 'Mary of James'.

Spices Purchased vs Spices Already Prepared

It seems that the ladies decided to split into two groups.

One group was going to visit the market and purchase additional spices.

    Mark  16:1   Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene,
                 Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought
                 spices, that they might come and anoint Him.

The other group would leave earlier and take the previously prepared
spices directly to the tomb.

    Luke  24:1   Now on the first day of the week, very early
                 in the morning, they, and certain other women
                 with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices
                 which they had prepared.

Notice, that Salome was amongst those ladies who prepared spices 
on the day Christ died, but on the day of His rising she is listed
amongst those purchasing spices. Refer Mark 15:40 and Mark 16:1.
The group purchasing spices would have needed to know where the tomb
was located. Salome had been amongst those ladies who witnessed the
body of Christ laid in the tomb.

What is evident from the Mark 16:1-8 text is that the ladies who
had purchased spices remained unaware that the stone in front of
the tomb had been rolled away.

    Mark  16:3   And they said among themselves, "Who will
                 roll away the stone from the door of the
                 tomb for us?"

In summary on the day Christ rose, the two groups were:

        Nothing To Anyone            Telling the Apostles
        (listed Mark 16:1)           (listed Luke 24:10)

        Mary Magdalene               Mary Magdalene ('Magdalene Mary')
        Mary - of James              Mary - of James
        Salome                       Joanna
                                     other ladies

Notice, we have two ladies named Magdalene, and two ladies identified
as 'Mary of James'.

These two different groups may have represented;

         A) Older ladies, who were more conservative,
                          and more fearful.  

         B) Younger ladies, who were more spontaneous,
                            and more willing to speak out.

When they Arrive at the Tomb

There are also differences in respect to when the two groups of ladies
arrive at the tomb.

A) The ladies bringing the purchased spices arrived late in the morning.

    Mark  16:2   Very early in the morning [Greek = "And 'very'/
                 'exceedingly' morning"], on the first day of the
                 week, they came to the tomb when the sun had

These ladies arrived 'at' or 'shortly after' sunrise! (The rendering
of the initial portion of the verse "Very early in the morning" is
misleading. What is being stated is that it was 'fully morning', when
these ladies arrived at the tomb.

B) The other ladies arrived much earlier.

There is presented a sequence of events.

1) Mary Magdalene departed while it was still dark. Her and the other
   Mary arrived as it began to grow light.

   John  20:1    Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene
                 went to the tomb early, while it was still
                 dark, ...

   Matt  28:1    Now after the Sabbath [After the close of the
                 Sabbaths], as the first day of the week began
                 to dawn [grow light], Mary Magdalene and the
                 other Mary came to see the tomb.

   Mary Magdalene and the other Mary leave to visit the tomb after the
   close of the Sabbath(s).

   In addition, other ladies also proceeded to the tomb.

   Luke  24:1    Now on the first day of the week, very early
                 in the morning [Greek = 'early deep'], they, 
                 and certain other women with them, came to the
                 tomb ...
                 [NB: 'early deep'. The 'early' suggesting
                      'early morning'.
                      'deep' meaning 'profound (as going down)'
                      Hence, 'early morning deepens'.
                      Perhaps mid morning - about 3.00am. ]

2) They find the tomb empty and two men in shining garments who remind
   them of the words of Christ. Luke 24:2-4.

3) The ladies then proceed to tell the apostles, who do not believe
   them. Luke 24:11

4) Peter and the other disciple (commonly thought to be John)
   visit the empty tomb and then return to their homes. John 20:3-10.

5) Christ appears to two ladies.
   Two ladies had followed the two apostles and remained at the tomb
   after the apostles left. These were Mary Magdalene and the 'other
   The text John 20:11-17 is discussing the 'other Mary' which Christ
   simply calls 'Mary'.
   John 20:18 confirms that Mary Magdalene was also present. The
   presence of Mary Magdalene (out of whom He had cast seven demons)
   is further confirmed by Mark 16:9.
   Matt 28:9-10 confirms that Christ first appeared to more than one
   lady. The text is saying 'them', Strong's G846. Form "Greek G846 'them'.".

    Matt  28:9   And behold, Jesus met them, saying, "Greetings!"
                 And having approached, they took hold of His feet
                 and worshiped Him.
            :10  Then Jesus says to them, "Do not fear. Go, tell
                 My brothers, so that they should go into Galilee,
                 and there will they see Me." {Berean Literal Bible}

   [NB: Many translations of Matthew 28:9 (including the KJV and NKJV) 
        incorrectly follow some questionable manuscripts which begin
        Matt 28:9 with, "as they went to tell the disciples".
        This is NOT accurate!

        Pulpit advises manuscript error

        John 20:10-11 clarifies the correct time sequence.] 

6) Mary Magdalene departs and tells the other ladies she has seen
   Christ. At the time, the other ladies were mourning and weeping.
   However, they do not believe. Mark 16:10-11.

    Mark  16:10  She went and told those who had been with Him,
                 as they mourned and wept.
            :11  And when they heard that He was alive and had
                 been seen by her, they did not believe.

   She also tells the apostles.

    John  20:18  Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that
                 she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken
                 these things to her.

So, in summary, Mary Magdalene, out of which was cast seven demons,
is clearly a significant person in the events which occur during the
first half of the resurrection day. 

Alongside of her was a another lady. A lady simply described as the
'other Mary'. This lack of clear identification suggests she may be
the lady identified as a 'sinner'.


A primary point of discussion in respect to the 'other Mary' is whether
she is the same person as Mary of Bethany.

The woman sinner is first mentioned at the time of the anointing of
Christ's feet.

    Luke   7:37  And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner,
                 when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the
                 Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of
                 fragrant oil,
            :38  and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she
                 began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped
                 them with the hair of her head; and she kissed
                 His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil.
            :39  Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this,
                 he spoke to himself, saying, "This Man, if He were
                 a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman
                 this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner."

This lady who was described in non-flattering terms as "a sinner" and
"what manner of woman", appears in John to be identified as Mary,
sister of Martha and brother of Lazarus.

    John  11:1   Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany,
                 the town of Mary and her sister Martha. 
            :2   It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with
                 fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair,
                 whose brother Lazarus was sick.

The John 11:2 verse is placed prior to the pre-death anointing of
Christ, so it may be concluded that it refers to the Luke 7:36-50

A verse which is relevant in this situation is;

    Luke   7:47  "Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are
                 many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But
                 to whom little is forgiven, the same loves

Having had many sins forgiven, this Mary of Bethany, was attentive
to her Saviour.


Scripture initially appears to present three separate times when
Christ was anointed.

                   Early in       6 Days Before    2 Days Before
                   His Ministry   14th Passover    14th Passover

                   Luke 7:36-50   John 12:1-8      Matt 26:6-13
                                                   Mark 14:3-9

Person named       -              'Mary'           -
                   (Mary of
                   John 11:2)

Feet or Head       feet           feet             head

Woman's hair       yes            yes              -

Woman's tears      yes            -                -

Kissed             feet           -                -

Oil named          -              spikenard        spikenard
                   fragrant       fragrant         fragrant

Oil flask          alabaster      -                alabaster

Oil valued         -              300 denarii      300 denarii

Purpose            forgiveness    burial           burial

House              Simon          Simon(?)         Simon
                   (Pharisee)                      (leper)
NOTES: 1) The same valuable oil appears to have been used on all occasions. 2) The house involved was that of Simon the leper. (Notice that Simon the Pharisee was the father of Judas Iscariot. John 12:4.) A significant issue is whether the timing indicated in John is somewhat misleading. In John it is mentioned before the triumphant entry of Christ on the donkey. The fact that the book of John confirms the anointing was for His burial means that it is unlikely that the John anointing was six days before Passover. It is also unlikely that the complaint of, "Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor", (and the subsequent comments by Christ) occurred more than once. Therefore, there is a strong indication that the John 12:2-8 text should be considered as an 'inset', a set of text placed out of time sequence. That the text of John 12:2-8 refers to the same event mentioned in Matthew and Mark. An event which occurred two days before Passover.


In respect to the ladies, the name Joses is mentioned three times,
Matt 27:56, Mark 15:40 & 47.

    Matt  27:56  among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother
                 of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's

    Mark  15:40  There were also women looking on from afar,
                 among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother
                 of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome,

            :47  And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses
                 observed where He was laid.

From these verses we can see that Joses is a brother of James. Also,
that this James, in Mark 15:40, was also known as "James the Less".
Implying that the Matt 15:40 James was of lesser standing than James
the brother of John or at least of a young age.

The listed brothers of Christ include both a James and a Joses.

    Matt  13:55  "Is this not the carpenter's son? Is not His mother
                 called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses (or
                 Joseph), Simon and Judas?"
    Mark   6:3   "Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and
                 brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And
                 are not His sisters here with us?" And they were
                 offended at Him.

So Joses could be a) the younger brother of Christ or b) a previously
unmentioned brother of the apostle James the son of Alphaeus.

If one sets a distinction between the ladies standing near the
cross and those standing further away, then Joses is most likely
a previously unmentioned brother of James the son of Alphaeus.

In Scripture the name Joses is also given to Barnabas.

    Acts   4:36  And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by
                 the apostles (which is translated Son of
                 Encouragement), a Levite of the country
                 of Cyprus,

Barnabas was a cousin of John Mark, who in turn appears to have been
the son of Peter.

    1Col   4:10  ... with Mark the cousin of Barnabas ...

    1Pet   5:13  ... and so does Mark my son.


We previously noted that there was a 'Mary of James' which was
one of the three ladies who said "nothing to anyone". And there
was a "Mary of James" who was one of the ladies who testified
about the appearance and message of the angel(s).

There are three people called 'James'.

  - James the apostle who was the brother of John.
  - James the apostle who was related to Alphaeus.
  - James who was the brother of Christ.

We previously noticed that Salome may be the mother of James and
John (comparing Matt 27:56 and Mark 15:40). So this would tend to
suggest the first James is not a possibility.

We now need to consider what other ladies were mentioned alongside
each of these two 'Mary of James' references.

  - Mark 16:1,  Mary Magdalene, Mary of James and Salome
                (who said "nothing to anyone")

  - Luke 24:10, the Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Mary of James
                (who testified)

From this Mary mother of Christ appears to be the Mary of James
in Mark 16;1. She is with the Mary Magdalene to which she is likely
related (not the Mary Magdalene to whom Christ first appears). Also
she would have been acquainted with Salome whose sons were in business
with her sister's sons.

At first it may seem strange to call Mary the mother of Christ by
the title Mary of James, but one only has to recall that Christ
has now died and that her next oldest son was named James.

This leaves James the son of Alphaeus as the Mary of James in Luke
24:10. A woman who is mentioned after the other two ladies, ie Mary
Magdalene (to whom Christ appeared) and Joanna.


1)  There was a Mary who was the mother of John Mark.

    Acts  12:2   Then he [Herod] killed James the brother of
                 John with the sword.

            :12  So, when he had considered this, he came to
                 the house of Mary, the mother of John whose
                 surname was Mark, where many were gathered
                 together praying.

    The home of Mary was located in the district of Jerusalem,
    where Herod was located.

2)  There was a James who was the brother of Jude.

    Jude   1:1   Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and
                 brother of James, ...


Correctly assembling the pieces of information related to the ladies
who witness the crucifixion of Christ and who later visit His tomb is
quite difficult.

While some information can be derived it seems that in the end one has
to make some reasonable assumptions.

It is hoped that this commentary may serve as a thought provoking basis
for the further study of this topic.

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