Mary as a Source [Akin]

I’ve been working on a project seeing how much can be determined about the particular sources that were used by the Evangelists in writing their Gospels.

Not hypothetical sources like Q, but actual, nameable individuals.

It’s been an interesting study!

One thing that I’ve long been aware of is that the Virgin Mary seems to be the primary source for the material in Luke 1 and 2. She wasn’t present for all of it (e.g., when Zechariah was alone in the Temple), but she was the one through whom these family stories were transmitted to Luke.

Very likely, he interviewed her personally, though if not, she was the one who was the primary tradent (tradition preserver) for that material.

Could she have served as the primary tradent for another of the Evangelists?

How about John? After all, he received her into his home on an ongoing basis after the Crucifixion. He would have had a lot of time to learn things about Jesus that could have ended up in his Gospel.

Do we detect evidence of that happening?

A notable case is the Wedding at Cana. Here’s how John introduces it:

On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there;
Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples [John 2:1-2].

Got that?

John tells us about this wedding and then the**first* thing he wants us to know about who was there is that Jesus’ mother was.

Oh, and, Jesus*”also” was invited “with” his disciples.

That puts an unusual emphasis on Mary. Normally, you would expect the sequence to be Jesus was there, with his disciples, and his mother. Or possibly, Jesus was their, and his mother, and his disciples.

But**not* his mother first, then Jesus, then the disciples.

Mary is also the primary figure motivating the action in this narrative.

“They have no wine,” she says to Jesus.

“Do whatever he tells you,” she says to the servants.

One of the things that the Evangelists often do is have a named, focal character who was part of the early Christian community and who is often mentioned first in a given section, and there are good odds that this was the primary tradent for the story.

Since Mary is mentioned first–and since she is the primary figure interacting with Jesus in the story–the odds are very high that Mary was the primary tradent and that John is signaling this fact to us.

Cool, huh?


Did you ever think about this?

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