Conflation: Or how Mary Magdalene became a prostitute

In the 2nd century CE, the early fathers thought they were doing something helpful for all who read the Bible: they assigned writers to anonymous books, and merged characters so there seemed to be a few significant players rather than a number of people with the same name. Instead of being helpful, it made tracing the writing history of the books of the Christian scriptures almost impossible

That merging, or Conflation, of characters has resulted in us thinking the Apostle John wrote extensively, even though he was a fisherman and was probably illiterate, and that there were very few women active in the circle of Jesus followers.

In order to get a sense of the richness and diversity of the community surrounding Jesus and in the first few generations of the early church, we have to separate those characters and return them to the individuals they were.

Lazarus who begged for his daily bread was not the same Lazarus whose family owned their own tomb.

Mary from Magdala was not the same as Mary from Bethany, and neither were the unknown prostitute who washed Jesus’ feet with her hair.

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