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Mary Magdalene was on par with any Apostle from what we see in the Gospel accounts

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/11/2012 Category: Religion
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 603 times Debate No: 21900
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I feel that based on the Gospel accounts Mary Magdalene is on par with any of the 12 Disciples/Apostles, and there is sufficient Biblical evidence to support this. This does not minimize the Twelve, it only amplifies Mary Magdalene as a closer follower of Jesus.


I negate:

First, Defintions

a. “on par”

The free dictionary, 2012 (

An amount or level considered to be average; a standard: performing up to par; did not yet feel up to par.

b. “apostle”

The free dictionary, 2012 (

One of a group made up especially of the 12 disciples chosen by Jesus to preach the gospel. A missionary of the early Christian Church. A leader of the first Christian mission to a country or region.

Next: I contend that she was NOT “at the level” of the apostles – who started churches and were chosen by Jesus

a. She wasn’t chosen by jesus
b. She didn’t start a church
c. She was a woman – THIS IS NOT SEXISM – the point I am making is that she was neither of the same social status nor level of influence that the apostles attained

Now, to answer your arguments

1. You say the bible substantiates your case, but you show no evidence – thus your argument is null

2. Even if the bible did substantiate your case, it wouldn’t matter – the arguments I made above come before your arguments, because they are interpretations of the resolution that the bible NEVER makes

3.You say "we see in the gospel accounts" as though somehow we can look beyond them...this is the ridiculous. I don't mean to offend you, but you had better not respond to this by making UNSUBSTANTIATED claimes ^^
Debate Round No. 1


First, thank for accepting the debate. I look forward to a fun, respectful debate.

a. Your definition of "on par": Not much to add here, it works for this debate. Nicely done.
b. Your definition of "apostle": I would like to on expand it for this debate. I take no direct issue with the accuracy of the definition that you gave,. My only issue is that it is a limited definition which ignores a larger definition of the term "apostle". In the original Greek text of the New Testament, the term "ap´┐Żstolos" is what the Evangelists used in the writing, and it's original Greek form can best be translated as "one who is sent out" (Dictionary of the New Testament, Xavier Leon-Defour; as well as your source to define the term - So again, I do not debate your definition. I only seek to expand it beyond the simple "12 Men" definition. It is a fuller term that I do not wish to limit, in part because it limits the role of what an Apostle/Disciple really is.
* This is why in my opening statement I did not limit it to "Apostle". Please take note that I also used the term "Disciple", which you did not address. This term can best be translated as student, or in Biblical terms, "any other professed follower of Christ in His lifetime; any follower of Christ" ( In short, when I say that Mary Magdalene was on par with any of the Twelve Disciples/Apostles, the definition that I refer to is a close follower, one who has been commissioned or sent out by Jesus, and a devoted and professed follower of Christ in his lifetime. I hope this definition suffices for the remainder of the debate, as that is what I will be arguing based on. Thank you.

"You say the bible substantiates your case, but you show no evidence – thus your argument is null"
-I had yet to lay out Biblical evidence in the opening. I was only seeking a challenger. I assure you, I will lay out Biblical evidence. My apologies if this is against some sort of etiquette.
"Even if the bible did substantiate your case, it wouldn't matter... You say 'we see in the gospel accounts' as though somehow we can look beyond them...this is the ridiculous. I don't mean to offend you, but you had better not respond to this by making UNSUBSTANTIATED claimes"
-In one breathe you tell me that even if the Bible substantiates my claims that it is null. In the next you tell me that I "better not" respond by making unsubstantiated claims (all caps?). By this I will assume that you mean that I should not make claims that are beyond Scripture based? Well, for one I do not intend to do so. As I stated, I will be examining the Gospels, and only the Gospels. So rest easy. And take note: when you say that an Apostle "set up a church" you are indeed looking past the Bible. We say this based on traditional accounts, not Scripture, and I'm ok with that.

* Now, here are my reasons why I do indeed feel that Mary Magdalene is on par with any follower of Jesus as evidenced from the Biblical accounts in the Gospels.
-She is the one disciple (close follower of Jesus) whose place in the resurrection narrative is attested to and supported by all four Gospels.
-All four Gospels state that she is present at the Cross during his Crucifixion, while none of the "Twelve" were present (except John).She is the first one to encounter the resurrected Christ and experience the first "Christophony", as supported by all four Gospels.
-She is the only one in the resurrection accounts to interact with him one-on-one.
-All four Gospels state that she is given an "Apostolic" commission; that is she is told by Jesus to go announce that he has been risen to the others (the first Easter announcement). It is from this that Pope Gregory called her the "Apostle to the Apostles". (William Barclay)
-Not only does Jesus give Mary a commission, but he "calls" her by name (v.20:16). Calling somebody by name is attached to a call to ministry, as well as numerous Old Testament calls and name changes/references. It implies a personal call and relationship.
-John's Gospel indicates that none of the men doubt her account (John 20).
-Her encounter with the angels in John 20 is "is one of the few places in the Bible where someone encounters angels and they are not stricken with fear" (Raymond F. Brown).
-We know more about Mary Magdalene from the Gospel writers than we do about any of the Twelve Disciples/Apostles, with the exception of Peter. She would not have been focused on if she was not of importance.
"The place of Mary Magdalene in the resurrection narratives shows something of (the Gospel writers') attitudes toward (her). (She) was the first to discover the empty tomb, the first to see the risen Lord, and the first to be commissioned to proclaim the good news." (Sandra Schneiders)
Looking strictly at Scripture, Mary's resume as a close follower of Christ compares favorably against any other follower of Jesus, including the 12.


Thanks for sending out the challenge (: again, sorry if I come across as rude

on yours -

1. to your resurrection arguments (which I find quite compelling, I might add)
a. being at Jesus' justification doesn't seem, to me, to necessarily indicate that she is a disciple on the level that other disciples were (for clarity, I think we should agree that disciple and apostle should be accepted as interchangeable). Here's a good way to think about it - if only John and Mary were present at the cross, does that mean they are the only disciples? No, I see no reason that being present at the cross necessities being a disciple (or rather, one on the level of the others)
b. the last argument is cross-applicable to the "first to meet/interact" argument

2. On the interaction one-on-one argument, I also see no reason this necessitates our validation of Mary - does everyone who has a one-on-one interaction necessarily deserve the status of the twelve? (though your answer may very well just be Yes…)

3. on the relay argument (apostle among apostles) - though she is called to do something by Jesus, this, to me, doesn’t indicate that she was necessarily an apostle. Logically, it seems to me that Jesus calls her to do this because she’s ready and available, not because she’s special (not that she isn’t…but…you know)

4. you say Jesus called her by name – but…he called other people by name as well, are they also on par with the twelve? I understand it implies a call, but I feel Jesus may have called more than just his disciples by name – scripture just happens to record this instance. To reiterate, he calls others by name as well

5. why does none of them men doubting her account mean anything about her relationship with Jesus – yes I know she was relaying information about Jesus, but that doesn’t mean that she is necessarily called the way the other disciples are/were – this argument serves to cancel out my society/women argument, though

6. not being afraid of angels doesn’t necessarily mean she was a disciple…in the same way that a disciple can be afraid of an angel, a non-disciple (I mean that tentatively…I don’t mean she isn’t a disciple, merely that she isn’t on par) can not fear angels

7. Yes, I concede she is important. That doesn’t necessarily indicate that she is a disciple though…

All in all, I think this debate comes down to the definition of “on par”. Obviously, Mary can be considered a disciple. You’ve probably won this debate though ^^

Debate Round No. 2


My apologies for the long wait! And no need to apologize or think you were rude. I took it as good-hearted passion!

Now, down to business. First, let me concede a few points. The angel thing: I'll concede that. It is a cool tidbit, but really not applicable here. And the calling by name: I'll concede that as well. It may make for a good sermon, but not really a concrete basis to argue apostleship or discipleship here.

* Crucifixion and Resurrection:
I think it is fair to say that this is absolutely the central event in the Gospels and Christianity. It is "it". Everything revolves around this event. Therefore, we can not minimize anything having to do with this event. And in that light Mary Magdalene's prominence at the Cross and the Resurrection cannot be minimized. If anything, just the opposite. Jesus is obviously the core, central figure in all of the Gospel accounts and narratives concerning the Crucifixion and Resurrection; he is the star of the show. Now, if we were to read these account for the very first time, with no prior knowledge of anything "Christian", we would clearly notice something else: Mary Magdalene is easily the second most prominent figure in the Crucifixion and Resurrection. And this is across the board in all four Gospels. This cannot be emphasized enough. Too often she has been dismissed as a "middle-man" or a simple messenger; the person who Jesus happened to say, "hey, go tell my boys I'm back". But she is so much more than that, and this makes her a truly mighty figure.

Bear this example in mind: John the Baptist is heavily mentioned in all four Gospels as being the one who announced that the Christ had arrived. And for that he is given a massive place of reverence and respect in Christianity. His role and place is secure. I contend that Mary Magdalene's role is equally profound, according to the Gospel accounts, due to her place in the Resurrection and Crucifixion.

And bear this second point in mind. You mentioned earlier about the "woman" factor, meaning Mary would not be an Apostle due to her sex, and I totally agree with this. Jesus was a man living in his time, and he lived in the context of the male-dominated times. But the flip side of that coin is that the Gospel writers did not hesitate to place Mary as THE figure of the Resurrection outside of Jesus. In such a male dominated society placing a woman in such a prominent place would have been foolish to do, so it speaks to her importance to the writer, which in turn speaks to her importance to Jesus.

So I contend that her place at the Resurrection and the Cross puts her on par with the Apostles, and any New Testament figure for that matter. We cannot minimize this importance. It would be like saying that Buzz Aldrin was "just" the second man on the moon.

And to look at this statement: "On the interaction one-on-one argument, I also see no reason this necessitates our validation of Mary - does everyone who has a one-on-one interaction necessarily deserve the status of the twelve? (though your answer may very well just be Yes…)". I will have to say that my answer would indeed be yes. I'll phrase it this way: in all of human history, at least according to the Gospels, only one person had the honor and privilege of interacting with the Resurrected Christ in a one-on-one way, and that is Mary. That is massive. And I contend that this would not be reserved for somebody who was any less than a close disciple.

And I will close with this last point. By Jewish Law (Deut. 19:14-16) a "witness" to an event had to be two or three individuals, and it had to be men. Jesus definitely would have been aware of this, and yet he had no problem sending a woman as his witness to the Resurrection. And furthermore, the Gospel writers had no problem conveying that a woman was the key, lone witness to the Resurrected Christ at the tomb, and the one sent to testify to the others what she saw. This would be a very radical event, and a very radical thing to write and expect to be taken seriously by the Jewish populace. It only would have been done if Mary was a very big, respected figure; a woman of importance and a key disciple.


Layne-vs-Kagan forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


RichardSJC forfeited this round.


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Debate Round No. 4


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Debate Round No. 5
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Danielle 4 years ago
I look forward to reading this debate :)
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