Thursday, October 24, 2013


I'm still thinking about Luke 7:36-50.  As I mentioned yesterday, this is the story of Jesus' visit to the home of Simon the Pharisee.  His feet are anointed by a woman whose name we are not given.

We make several assumptions about this story.

  1. In my class on Sunday, the assumption was made that the woman is a prostitute.  Why is that assumption made?  It doesn't say that.  Jesus tells a story comparing great sin to less sin, and from that we assume that the woman has sinned much, but why do we assume she is a prostitute?
  2. My class didn't make this assumption, but we do often say that the woman was Mary Magdalene.  None of the four anointing stories in the Bible name Mary Magdalene as the woman who does the anointing.  In one of them, the woman's name is given -- Mary of Bethany (Martha's sister), but that story is different from the one in Luke.  The Lukan story is probably not Mary of Bethany.
  3. Because we connect Mary Magdalene with this story, and we assume that the woman in the story is a prostitute, we call Mary Magdalene a prostitute.  The Bible never says that.

I wonder what it says about how we see women that we assume the anointing woman in the Luke story is a prostitute.   We should be careful about our assumptions about people, reading both the Bible and other people with care.

I wonder what it says that we combine what we think we know and assume it is the truth.  We need to examine what we think we know and compare it to what we really know.

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