Was Mary Magdalene Ever a Prostitute?

(By Dr. Eli)

Do the Gospels actually support the notion that Mary Magdalene was once a prostitute? The answer, surprisingly, is no.

There are several women named Mary mentioned in the Gospels – not least, of course, Mary the mother of Jesus. But there is also Mary of Bethany, sister of Martha and Lazarus; Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and Mary the wife of Cleopas. Equally important, there are two unnamed women who are expressly identified as sexual sinners – the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with costly perfume in Luke 7:36-50, and an adulteress whom Pharisees brought before Jesus to see if he would condemn her in John 8:1-11. [Note: this incident is not found in most ancient manuscripts.]

The association of Mary Magdalene with prostitution (albeit as a repentant prostitute) is the result of post-New Testament interpretations which identify her with several other women; at least one of whom was indeed a prostitute. Mary was one of the most common Hebrew names at that time. Simply because someone named Mary was a prostitute does not mean that Mary Magdalene was one as well. In the final analysis, there is simply no scriptural basis to definitively link these “sinful women” stories to Mary Magdalene.

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