Q: #414. How many Mary's are in the Bible?
By: Steve Shirley
A: After studying this for a while, I have come to the conclusion that there are six women named Mary in the Bible (New Testament). There is some debate about the exact number (ranges anywhere from 6-9), primarily because it is sometimes hard to know which Mary is being referenced in a specific verse. The name "Mary" is used 54 times in the New Testament, with Mary, the mother of Jesus being mentioned by name the most. I will list in the chart below the six Mary's I believe are in the New Testament, a short description of who they are, and verses where you can read about them.
1. Mary (Mother of Jesus):
From Nazareth. Called "blessed" (Lk 1:48). A virgin, supernaturally impregnated by the Holy Spirit, resulting in the birth Jesus. Husband Joseph. Later gave birth to 4 other boys, and an unknown number of girls (Mt 13:55-56)(Mk 6:3). Her request of Jesus' resulted in His first miracle (Jn 2:1-12). 1 of 3 Mary's at Jesus' crucifixion.
Verses: (Mt 1:16,18-25)(Mt Ch. 2)(Mt 12:46-50)(Mt 13:55)(Mk 3:31-35)(Mk 6:3)(Lk 1:26-56)(Lk Ch. 2)(Lk 8:19-21)(Jn 19:25-27)(Acts 1:14)
2. Mary Magdalene
From Magdala. Had 7 demons cast out of her by Jesus (Mk 16:9)(Lk 8:2). Afterwards, because one of Jesus most loyal followers and supporters (Lk 8:2-3). 1 of 3 Mary's at Jesus' crucifixion. The first to see Jesus after His resurrection (Mk 16:9)(Jn 20:11-18).
Verses: (Mt 27:56,61)(Mt 28:1-10)(Mk 15:40,47)(Mk 16:1-11)(Lk 8:2-3)(Lk 24:10)(Jn 19:25)(Jn 20:1-2,11-18)
3. Mary Of Bethany
From Bethany. Sister of Martha and Lazarus. She and her siblings, appear to have been close friends of Jesus, whom He visited several times. VERY devoted to Jesus. Anointed Jesus' head and feet with "very costly oil," wiping His feet with her hair.
Verses: (Mt 26:6-13)(Mk 14:3-9)(Lk 10:38-42)(Jn 11:1-45)(Jn 12:1-8)
4. Mary (Mother of James [the Less] and Joses [Joseph])
Wife of Clopas (Jn 19:25)(more on this below). Her son, James the Less was one of Jesus' 12 disciples. 1 of 3 Mary's at Jesus' crucifixion. Went to Jesus' tomb on the 3rd day after His death to anoint His body with spices, but found out He had risen.
Verses: (Mt 27:56,61)(Mt 28:1)(Mk 15:40,47)(Mk 16:1)(Lk 24:10)
5. Mary (Mother of John Mark)
Mother to Mark, who wrote the book of Mark. Many believe she may have been the sister of Barnabas (Col 4:10). Her home appears to have been a regular meeting place for prayer and worship.
6. Mary (A Christian in Rome)
A woman to whom Paul sent "greetings," and said she "labored much for us."
In studying this, I found a few interesting things I want to share.
First, one of the reasons why some people say there are "7" Mary's (I used to be one of them) is that they believe that Mary (the mother of James [the Less] and Joses) and Mary (the wife of Clopas) are two separate Mary's. If we look at (Mt 10:2-3)(Mk 3:18)(Lk 6:15), they say that the father of James the Less was named "Alphaeus." So, how could Mary (mother of James the Less) be married to Clopas, and James the Less have a father named Alphaeus? It turns out that apparently Clopas and Alphaeus are the SAME PERSON! That Clopas/Alphaeus are the same man is mentioned in the writings of two men who lived close to the time the New Testament was written: Papias (70 - 155 A.D.) and Hegesippus (110 - 180 A.D.). It is believed that Clopas was perhaps his Greek name and Alphaeus his Aramaic name.
Second, speaking of Alphaeus, did you ever notice that the disciple Matthew (Levi) also had a father named Alphaeus (Mk 2:14)? This has led some to believe that perhaps Matthew and James the Less were brothers. However, this seems unlikely since the Bible never makes this connection. We see brothers Peter and Andrew connected together, and James and John connected, but never Matthew and James the Less.
Finally, we move to the "Road to Emmaus" in (Lk 24:13-27). Did you ever notice that one of the two men walking with Jesus was named "Cleopas" (Lk 24:18)? Could this have been Clopas (slightly different spelling) that was the father of James the Less? I just find it interesting, and had never noticed this before.
**Note: The Greek word for Mary is "Mariam." The word Miriam in the Old Testament (Heb = Miryam") is equal to the New Testament "Mary." Therefore, it could also be said that we have two "Mary's in the Old Testament as well: Miriam (the sister of Aaron) and Miriam (the daughter of Mered)(1 Chr 4:17).