Ministry Resources

Lesser Known People of the Bible

Jim Cole-Rous researched background information on Lesser Known Bible People beginning in 2008. Jim trained at the South African Bible Institute. He publishes his studies researched, in Theology, World History, and the writings of the early Church Fathers. Jim is reading for his Master of Arts, at the Global University, School of Graduate Theology.

Mary – The Other Mary

It is important to identify the known women at the Crucifixion, burial and Resurrection of Jesus, in order to properly understand who the ‘Other Mary’ really was. After the Crucifixion Luke tells us;

Luke 23:55 “The women who had been companions of Jesus from Galilee followed along. They saw the tomb where Jesus’ body was placed.” – (The Message)

The Evangelists each identify some of the women, and not always all the same ones.

Matthew lists three:

Mat 27:56 ‘among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.’
Mat 27:61 And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb.
Mat 28:1 Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.

It is noteworthy that Matthew alone calls her the “Other Mary”.

Mark observes these women:

Mar 15:40-41 There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome, who also followed Him and ministered to Him when He was in Galilee, and many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem.
Mar 15:47 “And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses observed where He was laid.”
Mar 16:1-2 “Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.”

Luke mentions the following:

Luke 23 “But all His acquaintances, and the women who followed Him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.”
Luke 23:55-56 “And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.”
Luke 24:1 “Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.”
Luke 24:9 “Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.”
Luke 24:10 “It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles.”
(And Joanna – was the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward. Luke also mentions a Susanna. See Luke 8:3.)

Finally we look at John’s account:

John 19:25 “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.”
John 20:1 “Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.”
John 20:18 “Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord,[2] and that He had spoken these things to her.”

Listing the women we find mentioned by these Evangelists :

Mary Mother of Jesus: John
Mary Magdalene: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
Mary, mother of James & Joses: Matthew, Mark, Luke,
Mary, the wife of Clopas, (Luke calls him Alphaeus Acts 1:13) John.
The other Mary:
Salome, mother of James & John: Matthew, Mark, Luke.

Now we have four possible “Mary’s” mentioned.

  1. Mary, Jesus mother is always mentioned as such.
  2. Mary Magdalene is also always designated by her place of origin.
  3. Mary, the mother of James the Less and Joses.
  4. Mary, the wife of Clopas.

The first two we clearly know who they are.

Let’s look at #3 & #4.

What about Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses, and Mary the wife of Clopas?

Matthew identifies two Mary’s in Matt 27:56, and adds in verse 61 that Mary Magdalene and ‘the other Mary’ sat watching the placement of Jesus body in the tomb. He has just mentioned Mary Magdalene and Mary mother of James the Less and Joses. Almost in the next breath he speaks of Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, now sitting down to watch the burial of Jesus in the tomb.

Matthew here seems to tie the Other Mary to his previous mention of the Mother of James and Joses. Her children are clearly known and mentioned as the sons of Alphaeus (Matt 10:3, Luke 6:15).

John identifies this Mary, as the Sister of Jesus mother, and wife of Alphaeus in John 19:25. Alphaeus is mentioned several times in New Testament scripture. The Hebrew form of this name is Cleophas, or Clopas according to Easton’s Bible Dictionary. He is mentioned as having been with the Disciples on the day of the resurrection, and after hearing the tales of Jesus body missing from the tomb and the women telling of Angelic beings saying Jesus had come alive again, he leaves to journey home to his house in Emmaus.

Luke 24:13 “Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. ”
Luke 24:18 “Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have you not known the things which happened there in these days?”

We can therefore identify Cleopas (Alphaeus) as one of the followers of Jesus. His wife had been at the Cross and the empty Tomb, and was the ‘other Mary’ who was Jesus Aunt! Cleopas was thus actually Jesus’ Uncle. When Jesus began his ministry He called a Tax Collector, (a Publican) to be one of His disciples.

Mark 2:14 “As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, ‘Follow Me.’ So he arose and followed Him.”
Levi was another name for Matthew the writer of the first Gospel.
The conclusion is that the ‘other Mary’ was Matthew’s (Levi) mother, Alphaeus (Clopas or Cleophas) his father, and James the Less was his brother.

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