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Martha and Mary


(1) Luke 10:38-42
(2a) John 11:1
(2b) John 12:1-3



(1) Luke 10:38-42

/10:38/ Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. /10:39/ She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to what he was saying. /10:40/ But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her them to help me." /10:41/ But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; /10:42/ there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her."

(2a) John 11:1

/11:1/ Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.

(2a) John 12:1-3

/12:1/ Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. /12:2/ There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. /12:3/ Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus' feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.




RCL: Proper 11C
Ordinary Sunday 16, Year C

John Dominic Crossan

Item: 448
Stratum: III (80-120 CE)
Attestation: Single
Historicity: -
Common Sayings Tradition: No


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Luke 10:41-42

The commentary in The Five Gospels attributes the creation of this episode to Luke, and also identifies its function in Luke's narrative:

Both the Samaritan and Mary step out of conventional roles in Luke's examples. This is Luke's reason for placing the story of Mary and Martha in tandem with the parable of the Samaritan. The Samaritan for Luke illustrates the second commandment ("Love your neighbor as yourself"), Mary exemplifies the fulfillment of the first commandment ("You are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your energy, and with all your mind").


Samuel T. Lachs

Lachs [Rabbinic Commentary on the New Testament, 283] offers this parallel to sitting at the feet of a teacher:

Let thy house be a place of meeting for the Wise,
and dust thyself with the dust of their feet,
and drink their words with thirst. [M.Avot 1.4]


John P. Meier

Meier [Marginal Jew III,631] mentions "the hospitable Mary and Martha" as part of a "second group of significant adherents or supporters of Jesus" who did not literally follow him:

... it is not by accident that the hospitable Mary and Martha, the repentant Zacchaeus, and the beloved Lazarus are not called disciples in the Gospels, despite their commitment and service to Jesus. They were among the "stay-at-home" supporters, whose aid to the movement was by no means negligible. By gifts of money, food, and lodging, they supplied Jesus' traveling band of disciples with the necessary support network for a period of over two years. One would like to know whether or to what extent this support system was more than purely accidental and haphazard and may have represented conscious planning on the part of Jesus. In any event, the support system reminds us once again that not all of Jesus' adherents were desperately poor.


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