Readers React: Correcting our understanding of Mary Magdalene is about biblical accuracy, not feminism

A mosaic of Mary Magdalene and Jesus at the Magdala Center in Migdal, Israel.
(Ariel Schalit / Associated Press)

To the editor: Charlotte Allen claims a recent film is “part of a feminist effort” to change our understanding about Mary Magdalene, attempting to tarnish legitimate scholarship by terming it “feminist.” (“Mary Magdalene doesn’t need a feminist makeover,” Opinion, April 1)

But anyone who cares about the biblical record should have an interest in the attempt to uncover the truth about this notable 1st century woman.

Medieval theologians, probably accidentally, conflated Mary with other women mentioned in the Bible, including a “sinful woman.” But even centuries ago, religious authorities disputed that. (John Calvin might be surprised to hear that he was a revisionist feminist back in the 16th century.)


There is nothing wrong with being moved by the idea of Jesus positively impacting the life of a prostitute. But Allen makes the common mistake of confusing personal devotional musings with what scripture actually says and what scholarship tells us was most likely.

It is odd that Allen seems more interested in perpetuating fake news about Mary Magdalene than following the one who said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

The Rev. V.R. Marianne Zahn, Pasadena

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