In today’s Bibles, Lazarus has two sisters, Mary and Martha. But poring over hundreds of hand-copied early Greek and Latin manuscripts of the Gospel, Schrader found the name Martha had been altered. The scribes scratched out one Greek letter and replaced it with another, thereby changing the original name “Mary” to read “Martha.” They then split one woman into two. Schrader argues that the Mary of the original text is Mary Magdalene, not Martha or Martha’s sister, Mary. The two sisters belong to another story, in the Gospel of Luke, that is not repeated in John’s Gospel.
Elizabeth Schrader is a Ph.D. candidate in Early Christianity at Duke University. Her research interests include the New Testament Gospels, the Nag Hammadi corpus, Mary Magdalene, textual criticism, and feminist theology. She holds an M.A. and an S.T.M. from the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church. Her work about the potential suppression of Mary Magdalene was published in the Harvard Theological Review and featured by both the Daily Beast and Religion News Service.
Schrader has focused her research on the way Mary Magdalene’s role was deliberately downplayed by biblical scribes to minimize her importance. Specifically, she looks at the story of the raising of Lazarus told in the Gospel of John. In today’s Bibles, Lazarus has two sisters, Mary and Martha.