The Other Mary

Often when I think of the term “other”, I usually automatically denote a sense of secondary status, if only because something previous or following the “other” is necessary to identify what the “other” is (i.e. the other store or the other girl). But is being the “other” a bad thing? I think not. Especially when it comes to priesthood.

Michelangelo Caravaggio's 'The Entombment of Christ'. The "other" Mary (sometimes called Mary of Cleophas) has her arms outreached.

Consider the “other Mary.” I have developed a love and admiration for this woman in my personal study this year. She is amazing, yet sidelined in Mormon theology because she was not Mary, the Virgin Mother of Christ, nor was she the forgiven sinner, Mary Magdalene. She was just the “other Mary,” sister of Lazarus, who abandoned Martha in serving to be taught by Christ. We read of her utmost significance in Matthew 26:6-13:


Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. (the term ointment is linked with John 11: 2 and this statement: It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)

But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.  When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for (GR: to prepare me for) my burial. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.

This to me implies that the other Mary anointed Christ in preparation of His atonement, His burial, and as a foundation for His resurrection.  We know that the Bible has cases where women had the priesthood (Judges 4 and 5, Romans 16). The Bible dictionary teaches that “anointing with oil has been a part of true, revealed religion ever since the gospel was first introduced on this earth to Adam” (Bible Dictionary, p 609). And in the book of John, that washing and anointing is symbolic of preparation, of being clean “every whit”.  In Matthew, we learn she anointed Christ’s head, and in John, that she anointed his feet. In consideration of this, it is evident that the other Mary performed this most sacred and holy anointing with priesthood authority.

Yet what did the disciple say? That was expensive oil! It could have been sold and the profits given to the poor! Well, certainly to serve the poor is a good thing… just like just like offering blessings, performing ordinances, etc are all good things. But. When we turn to the book of John for another look at this moment, we learn that the disciple here was actually Judas, who was to betray Christ; in John12:6-7:

This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he (Judas) was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.

Judas had no intention of using the funds from the ceremonial ointment to serve the poor, he only wanted it for his own prestige. Whereas the other Mary was mindful of the truly righteous and sacred purpose in using the oil to anoint Christ.  In further witness to her absolute devotion to Christ after the crucifixion, she and Mary Magdalene went to the tomb of Christ to anoint His body with sweet spices (Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1-2, Luke 24: 1-10) …I actually wonder if this was similar to our modern day anointing with oil, which is symbolic of the presence of the Holy Ghost when used in blessing the sick.

The other Mary’s offering was so powerful that Christ said that her anointing of Him would be remembered as a memorial to her.

Do you think of the other Mary when you anoint or are anointed, as a memorial to her for her service to Christ? Similarly, have you experienced a Judas-type individual who only wanted or used priesthood for his own prestige?

Even though the term “other” might imply a secondary position to a defining associated term, in the case of the “other Mary”, being “other” is nothing secondary. She was a righteous, worthy, beloved servant of Christ who had the foresight to anoint Him.  She was not secondary; she was “other” as a definition of her importance. She was a partner. A servant. An ordinance worker who humbly ordained Christ even when tested by Judas.

I would like to follow her example. I would like to be the “other” person whom has priesthood keys and performs righteous services and ordinances. Not out of prestige, as Judas. Not out of competition, or for the purpose of dominion. But out of service to Christ and similitude to His gospel teachings. Just like the other Mary.  The other priesthood holder. The other ordinance worker. The other servant of Christ.


Spunky lives in Queensland, Australia. She loves travel and aims to visit as many church branches and wards in the world as possible.

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95 Responses

  1. EmilyCC says:

    Spunky, I’m sad that we’re past studying the other Mary in Gospel Doctrine right now. This would be great!

    I love this interpretation of Mary and her anointing. What a powerful and radical act in a church like our’s. I had been taught that Mary was doing anointing Jesus as part of her penance for past sins. But, I’m finding the idea of Mary as a sort of prophetess who is foreshadowing what is to come through her burial anointing a compelling idea. (And wouldn’t it make sense? I mean her sister, Martha, was one of 2 people–the other being Peter, who actually call Jesus the Son of God while he was alive.)

    Wish I knew those sisters!

    • spunky says:

      Thank you so much, EmilyCC! I know I am behind the class!

      The importance of Mary and her anointing of Christ struck me a while ago, but just kept on my mind, so I obsessed and re-read it for a time. I do not think that this anointing had anything to do with Mary’s sins – that makes no sense to me whatsoever and almost degrades that moment in my mind. A woman anointing Christ is a powerful example of women having authority to do ordinance work, and a sad reminder that we are void of this increased spiritual alignment because the church does not openly embrace women’s use of priesthood keys.

      I suggest looking up Mary of Cleophas (also Cleopas), if you are so inspired. There are other interesting analysis of her, all of which revere her as a righteous woman of authority… one suggested that in Luke 24, the other Mary is one of the people whom encounter Christ on the road to Emmaus, just after He was resurrected. This is a wonderful thought because it would be a further witness of her faith as well as His knowing her as a person of developed spiritual enlightenment.

  2. Alisa says:

    Love this post, Spunky! I think there is something beautiful in Mary annointing Jesus in preparation for what was to come.

    This may be a threadjack, but I can’t help but sometimes feel a little like the disciple who wished that such lavish extravegances weren’t used in the Church and instead could be given to help the poor. I wonder if this story has been used in part to justify the great cathedrals of other Christian churches and the rich clothing of those churches’ top clergy. I wonder if it applies today in the building of expensive temples on expensive plots, or decking out the block south of Temple Square with a mall so that the headquarters of our Church can have nice business neighbors (as opposed to a ghetto that was developing in the old Crossroads area). What is the difference here? Could more plain oil been used instead, or did it have to be the finest money could buy? This is really getting me thinking. Like I said, I’m not perfect. I sometimes think like the sinners in these stories.

    But I guess Mary chose “the better part.” If only I had her wisdom to know what that was all the time.

    • spunky says:

      I feel you, Alisa. Knowing the better part is extremely difficult, especially when so many of us know people who are suffering financially, emotionally and otherwise. Perhaps that is why Christ himself intervened and directed Mary, so she was not distracted by the other righteous choice(s) at hand.

      It goes with my thoughts on the obedience lesson plan… obedience is not back and white– I think perhaps this is why it was further detailed in John that the true intent was for Judas to sell the oil for himself, he didn’t have the welfare of the poor in mind, so it was not righteous. For me, this symbolized men who have priesthood keys and claim authority based on that privilege, thereby ignoring the spirit.

      The key, as always, is to be guided by the spirit. And that is a hard thing to do, for all of us.

    • Amelia says:

      Alisa, like you I’m often uncomfortable with institutional economic excess in building things like temples, church buildings, etc. I think, however, there’s a possibly very important distinction between the story of Christ defending Mary of Cleophas using an expensive oil in order to anoint him and the defense of institutional luxury. There are two distinctions I see.

      1. This could be a situation in which Christ is defending not the expense of the oil per se but rather Mary’s gesture of personal devotion. He does not, after all, explicitly state that the expense of the oil is defensible. His actual words are that “she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.” There’s a pretty significant difference between honoring Mary’s act of devotion and her understanding that they would not always have Jesus with them and a defense of profligate spending when the same money could have been spent to help the poor.

      2. This could be a situation similar to the widow giving her mite. We don’t know a lot about Mary’s background, but as an apparently unmarried woman (were she married, she would likely not be living with her sister) it’s probable that her financial situation wasn’t entirely secure. As such, her willingness to sacrifice in order to pay devotion to Jesus is something to be honored. And it’s a very different gesture than an incredibly wealthy church lavishing its resources on luxurious buildings and real estate projects rather than directing those resources to helping the poor.

  3. N. Curtis says:

    I don’t know how many times I have read those passages and never even considered the possibility. Spunky – this idea is simply amazing to me on so many levels.
    1. The obvious – Mary exercising her priesthood and gift of prophesy

    2. The affirming – Christ, knowing that the role of women in his ministery would be erased, speaks words that guarantee Mary’s role be preserved, “…told for a memorial of her.”

    3. The parable – This constant delicate balance between need and greed… confidence and ego is so well portrayed through your interpretation.

    I need to go and study this further. Thank you!!

    • spunky says:

      Thank you so much! I felt a strong impression of this as I studied her in the scriptures. Please share any further insights you may have, I am convinced that I am just starting to scratch the surface with this.

  4. Amelia says:

    Spunky, like Nate I had never considered this interpretation of this story. And I love it. What a powerful understanding of this woman, with her devotion to Jesus and her prophetic insight into his mission.

    I can’t help but see how terribly disparate the traditional understanding of this story (Mary making up for her sin) and this interpretation are. And in my mind, that disparity is a version of wiping out Mary’s legacy, of going against Jesus’ own admonition that this act should be remembered as a memorial to her. A “memorial” is, after all, generally meant to be an act or document or site that honors someone’s greatness. It’s true that humility and repentance are worth honoring, but to focus the story on Mary’s “sin” rather than on her prophetic understanding and her service to Jesus as she anointed him for the great work he would do (and think about the power and importance of the act of anointing in Mormonism) seems to be less than a memorial and more of a cover-up.

    I need to think about this one some more, too.

    • spunky says:

      I am still thinking of it Amelia, and searching for more knowledge on the topic. It has been powerful for me to study. Like you, I had been taught at some point that the other Mary and Mary Magdalene were one and the same person. I do not believe this at this stage, if only because of the bible dictionary, which distinguishes her in her own right:

      Another interesting thing to consider is the summary/chapter heading of Matthew 26, where the term anoint is specifically used. I do not recall which prophet authored the chapter headings, but I do not think this is in error; it states “Jesus is anointed,” which further clarifies the religious and priesthood significance of this moment. It is not just a cultural application of ointment, it is ceremonial.

  5. Corktree says:

    This is such a lovely and powerful interpretation Spunky! I’m really loving taking a fresh look at scripture lately.

    I think the part that resonated with me most was the idea that she was anointing in some priesthood capacity. I’m going to mull this one over, but I do know that I would have loved to have that thought and sense of solidarity in serving Christ when I went through the temple. Washings and Anointings were always the part I really liked anyway, but this would have made it even more powerful. I’ll be going through soon with my youngest sister as she prepares for her mission, and I may just take a moment to share this idea with her as she prepares. Thank you for a wonderful post and new perspective!

  6. Jean says:

    I hate to be a nitpicker, but there are so many things doctrinally incorrect in this post. For one thing, there isn’t any instance of a woman actually holding the priesthood of God. There have been instances of a woman exercising the power of God, but that is different from actually holding the priesthood. There are more things incorrect, such as the interpretation of Mary, but I will leave it alone.

    • spunky says:

      You’re not being a nit-picker, Jean. You are just plain wrong. Check the cited sources before you embarrass yourself.

    • Amelia says:

      “I hate to be a nitpicker”

      Could have fooled me. All I’ve seen from you in your comments, Jean, is nitpicking and condemnation and judgment of others for thinking differently from you. Our comment policy clearly asks people not to offer personal insults (like labeling another woman’s decision to pursue a career “neglectful” of her children), not to question others’ righteousness (something you have done more often than not), and not to “disrespectfully refute people’s personal religious beliefs” (as you do here). It’s time for you to shape up. Abide by the comment policy by engaging in actual discussion based on your personal experience and ideas without offering insult, judgment, and condemnation of or to just about everyone you engage with or else you’ll lose the privilege of participating in discussions here.

      • Jean says:

        I am sorry you want to ban me because I don’t digitally high five every aspect of feminism.

      • Spunky says:

        It is interesting that you chose to use sarcasm in reply to this, Jean.

        Peter Rawlins wrote this in the August 1974 New Era: “A most damaging form of humor is sarcasm, or cutting, hostile, or contemptuous remarks. Such humor is usually based on inordinate pride and is usually aimed at some person or group thought to be inferior…sarcasm denotes insensitivity to the feelings of others, stemming either from thoughtlessness or maliciousness. Recall the perverted brand of humor of the soldiers who mocked our Savior by putting a crown of thorns on his head, clothing him in a purple robe, and saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!””

        This is exactly why your attitude is not welcome here.

      • Jean says:

        I’m sorry, but that’s not sarcasm. I meant every word.

      • Diane says:

        your not being digitally banned,but, if you think you have the right to seek an apology from those of us whom you think are wrong in our discourse, then you should hold yourself to the same standard.

        I personally don’t believe in your conservative approaches,but, at least I as well as others have tried to listen and hear you out. You might try the same. Some of these ladies hold PHD’s so they are just as knowledgeable as anyone else, if not more so.

  7. Jean says:

    I read all the sources you cited. The doctrine of these women holding the priesthood is just incorrect. Also, what Mary was doing to Christ was not a priesthood ordinance, nor was it a temple ordinance.

    • spunky says:

      Jean, if you have a different interpretation based on biblical sources, please cite them and make your case. Otherwise, you may as well be trying to convince me that purple is the best colour known to mankind because that is what you think. I am sure that the prophets would be happy to know that the Bible is incorrect, as per your opinion. Back it up, or back off.

  8. Jean says:

    Gifts of the Spirit are not the same as exercising the priesthood. As a person, a woman can enter into a valid covenant with Jesus Christ thereby obtaining a remission of her sins and a hope of salvation in the celestial kingdom, this means the gift of the Holy Ghost can be hers together with one or more of the gifts of the Spirit. These gifts are freely given to all who earnestly seek them according to their faith and diligence—subject only to the discretion of the Holy Ghost.

    For example, the gift of prophecy and thus prophetess—of inspired utterances—have been enjoyed by many women. One such woman was Miriam, the sister of Moses. Another was Deborah, one of the judges in ancient Israel, which you mentioned in a quick reference.

    In the cases of ancient pioneer women laying on the hands for their children, they are not holding the priesthood, but rather they are exercising healing based upon the priesthood, extending the healing priesthood power their absent husbands hold in their behalf because the men are not there to do it.

    The priesthood is defined as the only authority that is acknowledged by Him to rule and regulate the affairs of His kingdom. This doesn’t mean the women have a lesser sacred role than the men because they don’t administer sacred ordinances. On the contrary, the faith and healing power of a woman can be just as strong if not stronger than a man’s.

    • spunky says:

      I do not follow your un-cited path of reasoning; do you dislike using the scriptures to support your thoughts?

      I disagree with your use of the term “rule”, and I strongly disagree with with what I perceive is your sense that women are subordinate and must follow men, but I agree with your idea that women have spiritual authority. That is the basis for my take on this scriptural reference, why else would Christ say that the anointing by Mary would be told of a memorial to her? Why do you think she is undeserving of the memorial that Christ attributed to her?

    • N. Curtis says:

      Jean –
      While the current doctrine of the church is that women do not hold offices in the priesthood, is it your position that women will never, and never have held offices in the priesthood?

      If so, here are some questions I would like your input on:

      1.) Do a search for prophetess in the old testament. There are at least 2 named prophetess in the OT. I would like to hear your rational as to why those women are not examples of priesthood holders. When you read their stories it is obvious that there job was more than just to have a gift of the spirit. They were actually serving in the capacity of prophet for the people.

      Question: why are these women not prophetesses as stated in the OT?

      2. In the temple, women perform priesthood ordinances, and are given all of the same promises and gifts that men are. Think carefully about that language. I served as a temple worker, for years, and still have the movie mostly memorized. There are particular lines in that movie indicating that women are entitled to every priesthood power, title, and privilege.

      Question: If gender-specific priesthood is an eternal doctrine, why are women performing thousands of priesthood ordinances a day in temples around the world?

      I am always curious as to why people insist that women never have and never will hold the priesthood in the Mormon church. I really am curious to hear your response.

      But please cite sources from church leadership , personal research, or other academic authority to support your argument. If you just state opinions, I will be forced to dismiss you as a troll.

      • Amelia says:

        I am always curious as to why people insist that women never have and never will hold the priesthood in the Mormon church.

        Me too. Ditto for insisting that God will never give blacks the priesthood (for a historical example of similar reasoning that has proven false) or that he will never sanction gay marriage or [choose your own practice banned or supported by current policy which you therefore conclude will be an eternal policy]. I’m not saying God absolutely will make any change, because I do not presume to know the will and mind of God. What I do say is that because I cannot know the will and mind of God, I also cannot say with such certainty that what currently is always will be. I don’t understand the presumption on the part of so very many members who are willing to dictate to God that he cannot ever change what is nothing more than a current policy (which is what they do when they proclaim with such certitude what always will be or won’t be). Especially in the face of strong evidence that the current policy is not actually an eternal one. The temple makes it pretty obvious that women will hold the priesthood (though the temple presentation of that fact is not without problems). I’ve had temple presidency members tell me in private conversation that they have no doubt, based on the temple ordinances and rituals, that women will hold the priesthood; the only question being when that will happen. I don’t think I’m off base in my understanding of the current temple ceremony as evidence that it’s highly likely that women will hold the priesthood (notice that I’m not dictating that it will happen; I’m just interpreting available evidence in a reasonable fashion; I really don’t understand anyone’s willingness to go beyond this practice to making such adamant declarations about how things Really Are).

      • Jean says:

        “I would like to hear your rational as to why those women are not examples of priesthood holders.”

        Perhaps you didn’t read my post at all? They are exercising the gift of prophecy, which is a gift of the spirit, available to all, not the priesthood.

        And women do not perform priesthood ordinances in the temple. What they do is not to be considered an “ordinance”.

      • Jean says:

        ” The temple makes it pretty obvious that women will hold the priesthood”

        I disagree, I don’t feel it’s obvious. My personal feeling is that women will never hold the priesthood and many scriptures back this up, such as the principle of the resurrection. I also feel that God will never sanction gay marriage. A vote or proposition cannot change the mind of God, it’s one thing he’s been very adamant on since the beginning of time. Gay “rights” are vastly different from the civil rights blacks went through. That’s all I want to say because I don’t want to start an argument about such a touchy subject.

      • Amelia says:

        um, last I checked “washing and anointing” is considered at least part of the ordinance of the endowment (if not it’s own distinct ordinance) and women absolutely do perform washings and anointings. Your wishful thinking cannot make it otherwise. You can quibble about whether it constitutes a “priesthood” ordinance, but you cannot quibble with whether or not it is at the very least an important part of the endowment ordinance and that the women who perform washings and anointings must be set apart and granted the authority to perform them.

        And what about being anointed to become a priestess is not perfectly clear that women will someday possess some kind of priesthood?

        As for the resurrection being evidence that women won’t ever hold the priesthood–why? because they’ll always be female? Again, I refer you to the temple ordinances which state at multiple points that women will become priestesses as well as to the various biblical references provided by N. Curtis and Caroline that demonstrate that women have, historically, held some priesthood offices.

      • Jean says:

        A priestess is a connotation to mean exalted. There is no indication that Heavenly Mother helped with the creation of the world.

        Also, what women perform in the temple, they do not do because they hold the priesthood, nor do they do it by the authority of the priesthood. The wordings don’t indicate otherwise. Remember, relief society presidents are set apart and granted authority too.

      • Amelia says:

        That’s a lovely personal interpretation of “priestess” and you’re welcome to it. But words have actual meanings and while there are certainly connotations to be considered, they cannot completely contradict the denotation of a word without causing reasonable readers to dismiss those connotations as the only definitive meaning. For your edification, here’s the definition of “priestess”:

        a woman who officiates in sacred rites.

        and another:

        A priestess is a female priest, a woman having the authority or power to administer religious rites.

        So yeah. Going to have to dismiss your “connotation” as possessing anything like a definitive guide to what the word “priestess” means in the temple. If they meant “exalted” they should have used that word or at the very least one whose connotation of “exalted” more closely matched its denotation.

      • Melyngoch says:

        Jean, it seems to me that your interpretation of scriptures and liturgical language runs something like this:

        ~Women do not and have not and will not hold the Priesthood. THEREFORE, any text which appears to suggest that women may have held (or may hold now or may hold in the future) the Priesthood must be interpreted to mean something else. When women are described using words like “priestess” and “apostle” and “deacon,” those words mean something other than their regular meaning, because otherwise those passages would contradict what you already know to be true.~

        This is fine; we all have our interpretive biases, but I do think you need to own yours a little more self-consciously. The scriptures, the temple liturgy, and the teachings of modern prophets do not unambiguously establish that women are anathema from the Priesthood. And for anyone who approaches these texts having not already made their mind up on the subject, there are plenty of reasons to come to a different conclusion than yours.

  9. BethSmash says:

    Quick question. Is “the Other Mary” Mary the mother of James? Or is there a DIFFERENT Mary, because in Luke and Matthew they just say the other Mary.

    Mark 15
    40 There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome;


    • Jean says:

      There are many different Mary’s at this point. Most of the parents in ancient Israel were aware of the prophecy that stated Jesus would born from a mother called Mary. And thus in an attempt to fulfill this prophecy and receive the honor of bearing the Lamb of God, a huge number of parents called their daughter Mary.

    • spunky says:

      Hey Bethsmash! Yes, I believe this Mary to be the mother of James (see the bible dictionary under Mary) and potentially the wife of Cleopas. Some biblical scholars also suggest that she is the sister or cousin of the Virgin Mary (which though awkward in today’s society, was not uncommon to name first and second born daughters after their maternal and paternal grandmothers). I quite like this- like a society of holy women who became the mothers of Christ, John the Baptist and the disciples.

  10. Caroline says:

    Wonderful post, Spunky!

    Regarding the question of women as priests in the early Christian Church, Paul names Junia (a woman) as an apostle in Romans 16:7 and names Phoebe (a woman) as a deacon in Romans 16:1. This is enough to convince me that women held priesthood of some sort in the early church.

    Last semester I took a class on Women in the Christian Church from the 2nd century to the 17th, in which I was stunned to learn that women in the Catholic faith held priesthood up until the 12th century.

  11. Jean says:

    He is not naming Junia as a deacon. He states, “for she hath been a succourer of many” which can be the equivalent of relief society president.

    As for Junia, it is only speculation to consider her a woman. In addition, she is not being called to the apostleship here.

    • Amelia says:

      what the hell? It’s only speculative to believe Junia is a woman? Even LDS scripture uses the female version of the name (Junia, not Junias). The consensus among scholars (you know, people who actually have made their life work the study and understanding of ancient texts and the correct translation thereof) is that Junia is female and that she was an apostle. You’ll forgive me for not taking your dismissive comment with no evidence whatsoever as more definitive (or even worth entertaining) than those of scholars.

    • Caroline says:

      Um, read Romans 16:7 again:

      “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.”

      I remember looking into this question of Junia’s gender and reading that scholars have not found any instances of a man every being named Junia. However, many, many women were.

      And as for Phoebe, read the verse again. “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae.”

      • Jean says:

        Caroline, I do not believe in that version of the Bible in which you quoted. It is skewed by the incorrect interpretations of modern man. As LDS members, we only believe in the King James version as far as it is translated correctly. I prefer to use the King James version.

        There have been instances of men being named Junia. “Kinsmen” is generally a masculine term. And Amelia, you’ll also remember that many scholars also came together and generally agreed that the Godhead were one in the same person. They called this the Nicean Creed, and it is rejected by the LDS church. I would not take what “scholars” say for truth because many times they are incorrect.

        The point is moot however because Paul does not call them to the quorum of Apostles, but rather is noting them as of being of importance.

      • Amelia says:

        Because the translators of the King James version weren’t themselves “modern men” with their own agenda (after all the translation was commissioned by a new monarch who had been influenced by his Catholic grandfather and who needed to gain acceptance and establish his rule as divine as the monarchy of England shifted from the Tudors [under whom there had been a great deal of religious strife] to the Stuarts). And those modern men who created the King James Version were, of course, scholars every bit as much as those scholars who have reached the consensus that Junia of the New Testament was a woman, not a man.

        As a member of the church you may believe only in the King James Version, but as a member of the church I believe in the bible insofar as it is translated correctly and I roundly reject the notion that the King James Version is the only “correct” translation (our own history of amending and retranslating the text of the bible supports me in that conclusion).

        As for “kinsmen” being a masculine word–well you can make that argument. But the beauty of using a sexist language in which masculine words and pronouns are often used to refer to all humans, I can make an equally legitimate argument that in this instance “kinsmen” is meant in the same fashion in which words like “mankind” and “men are that they might have joy” are meant–as a reference to people of both sexes, not just males. If I have to deal with sexist language in our canon, I can at least take advantage of its ambiguities to support common sense readings of the text.

      • Caroline says:

        Jean says, “As LDS members, we only believe in the King James version as far as it is translated correctly.”

        I’m afraid you’re mistaken here. This leaves out the majority of members of our global Church, who certainly do not use the King James version of the Bible. (Think of all the members around the world.)

  12. Kent says:

    Caroline, Which version of the bible are you using? The King James version states that Phoebe is a “…servant of the Church…” I am looking on my smart phone and it does not have footnotes.

    • Caroline says:

      I’m using the NIV. That’s the translation that Evangelicals and conservative Christians favor. (I quoted from that one just because it was the first to pop up when I googled Romans.) If you’re interested in the version that scholars prefer, then check out the NRSV. “I comment to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae.” and “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles…”

  13. N. Curtis says:

    “Also, what women perform in the temple, they do not do because they hold the priesthood, nor do they do it by the authority of the priesthood. The wordings don’t indicate otherwise.”

    There has obviously been a misunderstanding here Jean. I thought you were someone who knew something about the Mormon Church.

    “The ordinances we perform in the temples include washings, anointings, the endowment, and the sealing ordinance—both the sealing of children to parents, and the sealing of couples, spoken of generally as temple marriage.”
    -Boyd K. Packer, “Come to the Temple” 2007.

    Maybe you are not familiar with Elder Packer. He is the president of the Quorum of the 12 apostles in the LDS Church.

    Washing and annointing in the temple is a priesthood ordinance that women perform. You need to go talk to your bishop about this misunderstanding.

    Also, that is how you cite authoritative sources, please start doing so, because the “statements of fact” upon which your opinions are based thus far are obviously suspect.

    • Jean says:

      I have talked to my husband many times about it and he agrees. The washings and annointings are ordinances yes, but the women are not using the priesthood to perform them, as I stated earlier. I will not discuss this further because it’s getting dangerously close to being blasphemous.

      • spunky says:

        Your husband is wrong. And I suspect that he has never been in a women’s iniatory to state firsthand otherwise.

      • N. Curtis says:

        While I am all for talking to your husband about this topic, I humbly remind you that we all must gain the knowledge, line upon line, precept upon precept.

        I would recommend that you and your husband adopt the missionary method. Each of you study this topic out on your own, and then come together to talk about your findings.

        As long as your study is done in the spirit of love and compassion, both you and your husband can only be enriched by the results of your personal study.

      • N. Curtis says:

        There is no ordinance in the church that is performed without the priesthood. This is what makes them ordinances. See below from LDS.Org

        “In the Church, an ordinance is a sacred, formal act performed by the authority of the priesthood. ”

  14. Diane says:

    The Huffing ton Post has an excellent article on this topic, I don’t know how to link it to this web site otherwise I would, Its a very interesting read

    • Diane says:


      Can you find the article I mentioned and Link it to this discussion, I think you and others would find it interesting.

      • spunky says:

        I am not sure where to look, Diane– what is the title of the article?

      • Diane says:


        The article is named,” What does the Bible say about the Mother of Jesus,” By Bruce Chilton and its dated 8/16/2011

      • Spunky says:

        I found this article, Diane. It is lovely reminder of points that we learn usually at Christmas! Just lovely! It also reminds us of the different and numerous Marys mentioned in scripture, thanks for the addition to an argument of clarification in regard to the many Marys!

  15. Janna says:

    While I completely love the sparring going on here, do we really need to start quoting sources in a comment?

    One of the things that I like about blogs is that we can just “talk.” I don’t know, but we are not presenting academic papers here. So, I think it’s unfair to ask Jean, no matter how much I disagree with her (and I do!), for sources.

    • spunky says:

      Fair enough, Janna and thank you! When people make statements in regard to doctrinal facts rather than saying “I think” or “I believe” as per doctrinal interpretations, I think they should include the source of their reference so we can share in wisdom, especially when inviting judgement of others’ thoughts and personal insights, as jean does.

      That being said, if someone were to say, “This does not feel right to me, so I cannot support it because….” I would not argue with their feeling, though I may feel very differently. Thoughtful discussion is welcome, whereas claims of fact without substantiation is just too rife with problems.

    • Jean says:

      It is our duty as members to correct false doctrines.

  16. N. Curtis says:

    When people are lying. Asking for sources is appropriate.
    In my opinion.

  17. N. Curtis says:

    “And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.”

    Judges 4:4 KJV.

    She had the gift of prophecy and sat as a judge in Israel. Keep in mind that judges in this day were all religious positions. There was no separation of church and state. The description of her calling is the same as a bishop today.

    There is significant evidence that in multiple periods, women held offices and keys in the priesthood even if that is not the case today. Even the church acknowledges this possibility:

    “Of course, it is possible that some women were prophetesses in both senses of the word.”

    Daniel Ludlow, “Ensign”, 1980 (Ludlow was the director of teacher support services, Church Educational System. He was responsible for our current version of the footnoted LDS scriptures, as well as the Encyclopedia Mormonism. He died in full fellowship)

    “We read that in earlier days of Israel women were active and had duties to perform, that there were actually prophetesses among them. Such a noted character was Deborah, who is spoken of as being a prophetess unto whom the people went for counsel, and she became a judge in Israel. It appears in the account of the exodus of Israel from Egypt, that Miriam, sister of Moses and Aaron, who is spoken of as being a prophetess…”

    Joseph Fielding Smith – “Relief Society Magazine”, January, 1965.

    “One of these shophetim was a woman named Deborah. A prophetess, judge, and deliverer, she not only followed the example of earlier Old Testament women in acting upon the word of the Lord, but she fulfilled her role as shophet, or judge, better than most. Based on the information in the Bible, only Samuel and Gideon equaled her accomplishments.”

    -Kristen Lichtman, “Ensign”, January 1990.

    Notice that she compares Deborah to othe judges, who happened to also be prophets. Why would she bother making the comparison if Deborah only had the gift of prophecy and not the calling of prophetess? I would recommend reading up on the term “Shophet” if you are not familiar with the word.

    “Josiah commanded his high priest and religious leaders to find out what the Lord expected of him and his people. The leaders went to a spiritual woman named Huldah, who was a prophetess.”

    -N.a. “Liahona”, Oct-Nov 1986

    The King of Israel told his religious leaders to go see the prophetess. Her authority (ie. “gift”) was apparently greater than the priesthood holders at the time.

    We have now given you several instances supporting the idea that women
    1. Perform priesthood ordinances in the modern church;
    2. Receive the same promises, covenants and blessings (all of which are priesthood based) in the temple;
    2. Have, at least possibly, held offices in the priesthood as high as prophet in the past;
    3. That current church leaders, and past prophets acknowleged the possibility that women held the calling of prophet.

    I now challenge you to show me doctrinally equivalent sources that expressly forbids women from having the priesthood.

    • Jean says:

      Hmm, I quote General Authorities and you quote regular fallible people? Kristin Lichtman, who? I have already refuted everything you said in earlier posts and won’t get into it again. The term “prophetess” is not equivalent to the modern day term we use today. Exercising the gift of prophecy (which is a gift of the spirit, not the priesthood) can make you a “prophetess”, you do not need the priesthood to exercise the gift of prophecy.

      • Amelia says:

        Jean, the apostles and prophets are as fallible as anyone else. The LDS church (allegedly) does not claim infallibility for our leaders (though far too often the church leadership and membership behave as if church leaders are infallible).

      • Roaming Redhead says:

        Um Jean, pretty sure Joseph fielding smith was a prophet…as well as a fallible human being. The church approves everything that goes into their magazines so obviously they approved what Kristen Lichtman wrote even though she’s “fallible.”

        That being said, I appreciate you expressing your concerns and opinions even though you’re in the minority.

      • spunky says:

        Jean- since you inferred that you quoted your husband about the temple ordinances of women, i.e. “I have talked to my husband many times about it”- I now understand that you are agreeing that your husband and you are fallible people as well; ergo you have made errors in your interpretation of scripture.

      • Jean says:

        I only stated I talked to my husband because N. Curtis asked me to “talk to my bishop.” He is not the source of my information.

      • NCurtis says:

        Joseph Fielding Smith was a, “regular fallible person”? I guess we do agree on something.

        Ludlow was a general authority.

        All the other quotes came from the Ensign or the Liahona which is reviewed and endorsed by the apostles.

        Still waiting for anything from you in support of your position that women never have and never will have keys or offices in the priesthood.

      • NCurtis says:

        Either is your husband. You are responsible for your own knowledge and spirituality, and therefore, you are entitled to your own revelation, inspiration and spiritual growth.

        Hopefully, any influence your spouse has on your spirituality is good, and therefore consistent with your personal revelation. However, in instances when there is a disagreement concerning spiritual matters or even matters in the home, your husband should concede to the personal inspiration you received.

      • Melyngoch says:

        >>I quote General Authorities and you quote regular fallible people?

        Seriously. You’re just messing with us, right?

  18. Roaming Redhead says:

    *Whoops! Didn’t see Amelia’s comment, sorry for redundancy.

  19. BethSmash says:

    This is kind of a threadjack so I apologize in advance!

    I have a question for you. Purely hypothetical, obviously, but I’m asking because I’m intensely curious. Here is the scenario. In the next General Conference, President Monson, stands to give his talk and says something along the lines of this: Recently while in the temple I had a revelation from Heavenly Father. As men and women are equal in the eyes of the Lord, so are they in Heaven. Heavenly Mother has been revealed to me in all her Celestial Glory, and from this day forth women shall have the same responsibilities as men in the church and are called to bear the Priesthood. etc. (I assume he’d also say, this does not have any diminishing effect on women as nurturers, or mothers, but will expand their role in the leadership of the church – and of course, he’d tell a wonderful story about a wonderful woman who had inspired him to be prayerful on this subject, because Monson likes stories, which is why I like his talks) 😉

    Okay, so that’s the scenario. Now, here’s the question. How do you feel about this? I ask because you are so adamant (and many others in our church believe the same things, not just you, but because you are the one participating in this blog I’m asking you) that women have never had and will never have the priesthood. I ask this question sincerely. Would you feel betrayed by the church? Would you think the President Monson had bowed to political pressure? Would you feel it an actual revelation? Would you say to yourself, I live in a changing church and this is the change and so be it? Would you have yourself … what’s the term… endowed? with/given priesthood keys. Would you not?

    Please consider the question and answer honestly about the hypothetical future. I am just curious as to how you (and others who believe like you) might react to this situation.

    Now, my question to everyone else,
    What if Monson came out and said the EXACT opposite. Not exactly sure what that would be. Maybe that there is not Heavenly Mother, or just a confirmation that HM didn’t help at all during the creation of the world/universe and is essentially powerless, except as a helpmate to HF. And that women never have had, or never would have the priesthood. Would you feel betrayed by the church? Would you think the President Monson was just rejecting political pressure? Would you feel it an actual revelation? Would you say to yourself, I live in a changing church, and this can still change one day?

    Anywho… Again, I apologize for the threadjack, but I AM curious – so I thought I’d ask.

    • Maureen says:

      A VERY intriguing question BethSmash. I am curious as to the responses as well. I think it deserves its own post. I think I could write an entire post in response. It certainly wouldn’t be as simple as rejecting or accepting everything the prophet said, or staying or leaving the Church. So I’ll wait to see if it gets its own place here.

    • Kmillecam says:

      I agree. That would be a great guest post! Somebody write it 🙂

    • slight nitpick (since its already an admitted threadjack)

      “helpmate” is not a word, especially not a scriptural word. Eve is created as a “help meet for” Adam. “Meet” means equal to. “Helpmate”, when it is so used inappropriately, is made to make it seem like Eve was created to be an assistant to Adam, which is not the case.

      Sorry, it’s just one of those little word things that gets to me. 🙂

      • BethSmash says:

        Thanks Frank. At first I had written helpmeet (one word – so it showed up as incorrect) and then when I right clicked I got both help meet and helpmate. I picked helpmate erroneously … although I did mean help meet. So thanks for the correction. And don’t worry about being too nit picky. I have the same issue on other words as well.

    • spunky says:

      It is an interesting question, Bethsmash! For me, to be quite honest, the lack of direction from our current prophets in regard to defining this put me in the position that I am in now. That is to say, I find prophets to be human, therefore fallible and perhaps misguided in revelation. (think of how often the temple ceremony, relief society, and even church has changed in the last 150 years). The same thing may have been said 50 years ago regarding blacks and the priesthood… so, whilst some forward thinkers understood that the policy to exclude blacks was incorrect, sure revelation took longer.

      So- overall- something like that would leave me in the same place I am now, thinking that the cultural policies of Mormonism has little or nothing to do with the religious aspect of Mormonism. For example, I went to the temple a few weeks ago, and it was quite chilly as we are in the middle of winter. Can they turn up the heat in the building? The answer was no… because increased or adjustments in the pre-set climate control system were regulated via Salt Lake. Assignments made in Salt Lake often make no sense whatsoever, so I go with the aspects and true religion wherein I have testimony, and pretty well disregard everything else. Even prophets imperfect. Ask any one of them.

  20. Kelly Ann says:

    Spunky, I am joining this discussion late but would like to make a comment regarding Mary’s relationship to Christ. And warning, I know, what I am about to say is considered heresy … So while I don’t want to rekindle all the sparring, which I was quite surprised by, I would like to hear people’s opinions.

    I once heard (and sorry I have no reference, probably a BYU religion class) the interpretation that this anointing as well as the post-mortem anointing and initial appearance of Christ were acceptable by the two Mary’s – as polygamous wives of Jesus Christ. The person compared the anointing to the second anointing practiced (even if hushed) by the modern church.

    I find the idea of Christ being married problematic on many levels, and don’t believe said interpretation, but would welcome more discussion about the role of the women closest to him. I prefer the interpretation that she was just administering an ordinance as an apostle, but how would you refute this idea?

    I know that women were prophetesses, often leaders in the New Testament (my BYU NT teacher compared Lydia to a RS president), and I would like to believe women have held or will hold the priesthood in the future. But opening a can of worms, which might be better for another post, I would also like to discuss the possibility that Christ was married.

    Because the biggest thing I see about comparing Mary’s anointing to a current washing and anointings is that in the temple now women only administer ordinances to women or to their husbands (second annointing). Hence the crazy speculation I stated above.

    • Kelly Ann says:

      I should add, in case assumed, that the source for the speculation was not the BYU religion instructor, and was rather quickly dismissed (i.e. not talked about, so hence the reason it still lingers in the back of my mind, now that I allow myself to ask tough questions …)

    • spunky says:

      This is interesting!

      In regard to the idea of the Marys being multiple wives of Christ, I don’t think that argument fits for “the other Mary” because of the associated scripture that name her as the mother of James (Mark 15:40) and other scriptures that name her as the wife of Cleophas.

      I have no issue with the ideology associated with Christ being married (I was taught and am comfortable with the ideology based on the Doctrine and Covenants where it says that Christ had been received in all of His glory, suggesting that is was necessary that he had entered into the covenant of eternal marriage).

      That being said, I personally do not think Christ had more than one wife and I believe that conjecture asserting that He had several wives has as much substantiation as those who suggest that Christ was gay. Neither suit my thinking or feeling of Christ, but I recognize that zealots on both sides can make scriptural-based arguments.

  21. Kelly Ann says:

    Spunky, I’ll agree that whether Christ was married or not, does not affect my perception of his mission. If he was, I like the idea that it was to one woman and that she would also have an elevated status (even if not the Savior). Since posting this comment, I googled the question and there are a myriad of opinions in regards. I found an article at patheos particularly interesting in that it highlighted what we know about Mary Magdalene, the classically presumed wife, from the actual text of the new testament as well as non-canonical texts.

    The author Mark Roberts highlights that he does not see direct evidence for any marriage. He emphasizes that there were special relationships between Christ and women and particularly Mary, but that Christ in general wasn’t worried about following the norm.

    I rather like the idea that a women can have elevated status, and spiritual gifts and influence independent of marriage ….

    Anyhow, there are also a gazillion opinion pieces online. I realized the comment I referenced was also made during the height of the Da Vinci code which gives more context for it. And there are also a spattering of quotes from early church leaders that state God and Christ were both polygamists (although there are a spattering of quotes from early church leaders about almost anything that I don’t consider doctrinal).

    Anyhow, I appreciate your points, but for the sake of argument (although I don’t believe it), I will say that IF (note the biggest hypothetical IF possible) Joseph Smith’s practice of polygamy was any indication of inspired Polygamy – that being older and in a polyandrous relationship would not necessarily preclude the possibility….

    However, I personally choose to believe that it is all hogwash and that if the early church leader’s comments are proof of anything – they are proof of their attempted justification of their own practices.

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