Mary Magdalene gets a bad RAP!



My wife and I recently saw RISEN the movie. The acting was good, the sets were believable, and the story compelling. However, I have three grievances with the accounts portrayed (listed below in order least to greatest).  !!Spoiler Alert!!

  • When Christ ascended into heaven, after giving His apostles the great commission, it was portrayed as a blast off akin to a ballistic missile’s.
  • It is unlikely that Pontius Pilot and the Tribune were uninformed about Jesus. 
    • Jerusalem was not geographically large city.  It still isn’t.
    • To insure Pax Romana (Roman peace via iron law) they kept a tight grip on Jerusalem.
      • A legion was assigned to the area and Rome’s tax collectors and spies were abundant. Rome had a more than sufficient information gathering network in place.
        • Passover was a time rife with potential problems as the city swelled with visitors and Jewish national pride was high. Roman troops would be on elevated alert.
        • On the Sunday before Jesus’ crucifixion (Palm Sunday) He entered the city to a huge crowd proclaiming His greatness.
    • Jesus of Nazareth was known to those in power. King Herod knew of Him and had wanted to meet Him “for a long time”.
    • Jesus and His activities were common knowledge.
      • This is evidenced by the surprise of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They were shocked that someone would not know what had happened in Jerusalem.

And the one that bothers me the most: Mary Magdalene got a bad RAP.

In my line of work, “RAP” is an acronym for: Record of Arrest and Prosecution. A “RAP sheet” is the documented history of a person’s arrests and the following decisions a court has made regarding them. A repeat offender of the law is often referenced as having “a RAP sheet a mile long”.

Mary the Magdalene was a Jewish woman hailing from the bustling seaport of Magdala.  She is called “Magdalene” as Jesus was called “Nazarene”. He was known to come from Nazareth.

In the movie Risen, it is heavily inferred that she was a prostitute well known by many of the Roman soldiers.

As far as I have found, tagging Mary Magdalene as a prostitute goes back to the Jewish Talmud (which portrayed her in a negative light) and a 591 AD sermon of Pope Gregory the Great. In it, Mary Magdalene was identified as the immoral woman in the book of Luke.  (In truth there is no strong evidence that the “immorality” referred to was prostitution. There are many types of immorality.)  This inference was further promoted in the 18th century when “Magdalene” houses or asylums were opened for wayward women to find shelter and rehabilitation.

I am not Pope-bashing. I assume he held her in high esteem as a faithful, devoted servant of Jesus Christ. A sinner saved. And the Magdalene houses used her name only as an aspiration for women in their care. The Talmud, being a Jewish tome not proclaiming Jesus Christ the Messiah, logically would not speak kindly of Him or His disciples.

However scripture does not speak of her in a derogatory manner.  Mary Magdalene appears in the following scriptures Matthew 27:56 and 61, Matthew 28:1, Mark 15:40 and 47, Mark 16:1-9, Luke 8:2, Luke 24:10, John 19:25 and John 20:1-18.

The only description of her in any negative way lies in Luke 8:2. Which states “seven demons had gone out” of her by Jesus’ command.  Presuming that this made her a prostitute in turn suggests the demoniac must have been a male prostitute. After all a “legion” of demons was exorcised from him. I have never heard that implied though.

The other scriptures portray Mary Magdalene as faithful and devoted, desiring to be a follower and disciple of Jesus Christ. This interestingly is the one understandable commonality between her and the demoniac.

Call me old fashioned but, you don’t name a woman “whore” unless you have proof. Even then you don’t defame her. Christians are supposed to edify our fellow humans toward the Lord not vilify them to others.

There is no evidence to support Mary Magdalene being a prostitute. She doesn’t deserve the bad RAP she has been given. Even if she had been, her RAP sheet doesn’t exist. Any criminal history she had, has been cleared by our Lord and Savior.


A CSI Guy Book Review: God’s Crime Scene by J. Warner Wallace

God's Crime Scene

It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. – Luke 21:13 (NASB)

Occasionally I will read a book that moves me to write a post from a Crime Scene Investigator’s point of view, a CSI guy book review. I just finished reading one of those books.

Even in my first few days of Crime Scene Investigation training I was taught to prepare for court testimony. The jury is a CSI’s audience. Everything done in a crime scene investigation is ultimately for their benefit. I ingrain this concept into every trainee I have.

The first time I took the stand in front of a jury was as a witness for the prosecution in a burglary case. I had developed and collected fingerprints at the scene. I later matched those prints to a suspect, the defendant.

The judge, jury, and defense scrutinized me. I was nervous. How is it said—as a long-tail cat in a room full of rocking chairs?

After 25 years in the field and many, many, many appearances in court I am not so nervous. Primarily because training and experience give me certainty that what I testify is true and accurate. I also know what kinds of tactics will likely be used against me in cross examination. I am ready.

 In his book Cold Case Christianity, Los Angeles PD detective J. Warner Wallace uses cold-case skills to investigate the claims of Biblical Gospels. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and following the meticulous investigation. I found his writing detailed, understandable, and well researched.

Then I heard in his newest book God’s Crime Scene, J. Warner Wallace continues to use cold-case skills. This time investigating Divine design in our universe. I did not hesitate to pre-order it.

When I received and read it I found no disappointment. Granted, Wallace covers some intellectually deep areas of study (e.g. the origin of life, signs of design, consciousness, free will, and the existence of evil). He uses a precise “inside or outside the room” technique.

However he augments his academic-level thinking, observations, and conclusions with understandable info-graphs and anecdotes from some of his former cold-case investigations. A good example is his use of a murder weapon, a garrote, to explain irreducible complexity and intent of design.

By using the statements of experts (virtual witnesses) who both oppose and support his conclusions he proves-up an unbiased investigation. He also does not take an offensive (attack-dog), tone is his presentation. Juries are favorable to both these characteristics.

As a CSI, I must clearly and convincingly explain to a jury:

  • the techniques and equipment I use at a crime scene investigation
  • the reasons I use them
  • the results of  their use
  • the conclusions I make based on those results

Testimony is given to the jury in the face of a judge, a prosecutor, and a defense attorney. The judge’s responsibility is to ensure that the laws are fairly upheld. The prosecutor presents the case and evidence against the defendant. The defense presents the opposing view of the case and evidence for the defendant.

In my experience defense attorneys usually cross examine the prosecutor’s witnesses with intent to:

  • discredit them, their training, and/or their expertise
  • discredit the validity of the evidence or its analysis

In the end each court case is decided by the conclusions of judge or jury. What they think of the witness and the veracity of evidence presented in testimony make their decision for, or against, possible.

In our culture there are many who will attack the veracity of scripture and belief in a Creator God. I have noted they take very much the same approach that defense attorneys do.

After reading J. Warner Wallace’s newest book I can honestly say he makes a very good case for Divine design. He is obviously aware of the points I made above and executes them well. If I was in a jury box listening to his testimony I would be hard pressed to not decide in his favor.

In Luke 21, Jesus said that His followers would face persecution and trial for their beliefs. He proclaimed this would lead to a chance to witness and give testimony for Him.

This persecution has been consistent since Christ walked in Jerusalem. It is certainly prevalent in our culture today. But do not be nervous. Pray for wisdom, read scripture, read books like Cold Case Christianity and God’s Crime Scene. By doing so you can be certain in what, and why, you believe and be ready to testify on His behalf.

I fully recommend this book and give it 4 out of 5 CSIG stars. It would have been 5 out of 5 but I am envious that I did not write it.

Global Climate Change : A Half-Truth is a Half-Lie

Shrinking Arctic Icd
National Geographic Arctic Ice Map

But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment.”    
– James 5:12

A change in the National Geographic Atlas is explained in one of their recent articles. Also, according to the article, United States President Obama used this map change to promote the trending belief in man-made global warming. I do not have the ability to prove or disprove the promotion about global warming based on this article. However, it even hints at some misleading details.

“But Walt Meier, a research scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Cryospheric Sciences Lab, said he’s concerned that the map leaves out some important details that might mislead the public.”

An earlier National Geographic article explains how redwood fossils in the arctic give clues to ancient climates.

Axel Heiberg Island, at 82 degrees north and just a stone’s throw from the North Pole, was once a great vacation spot—during the Eocene epoch, about 45 million years ago. Lush redwood forests, ferns, flowering plants, and a huge variety of animals, now extinct, once thrived here.

Like the first article I cannot prove or disprove the truth of the second. Few of us have that ability. I can only assume both were written with truthful intentions.

Just a few weeks ago I stood as a witness in court, raised my right hand, and swore: “I will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” I have taken this oath many times before testifying about findings from a crime scene investigation.

Does the court believe I will lie? Why can’t it be assumed that I will tell the truth? Is this fair?

Yes, it is, and rightfully so; because people do lie. I have never been around anyone who eventually didn’t lie, albeit a “white”-lie, a half-truth, or a withholding of truth. We lie for many reasons (personal gain, protection, agenda, or even not to hurt someone’s feelings). I have only heard of one human who could pull off living without lying. He is considered “The Truth.” And I know of one who fights knowledge the truth holds because he is the “father of lies.

In scripture James explains why a follower of Jesus Christ must live in a way which makes people assume their truthfulness. This is done by actually being truthful. Only by His Spirit do I have any success. Sadly lying is an expected and accepted practice in our world. If not an oath in court would be unnecessary.

At crime scenes I occasionally find pieces of evidence whose explanations counter each other. For example I have seen persons who have been shot to death. Blood spatter indicated their bodies were moved afterward. Though witness testimony conflicted with this, evidence and its objective analysis forced testimony to change. In other words a lie was uncovered and confessed.

So with that in mind we must logically look at climate change. Per the information in the second article it has changed in the past. Man was not predominant when forests covering the arctic were iced. So the machination of man is not necessary for climate change to happen. The “ice-age” froze large areas of our world and caused the extinction of many species Then the world warmed up and the ice melted. Man was not responsible for the thaw either. I do not know if this is still taught in school but it was taught to me.

I am not using the two articles to indict National Geographic specifically. I am sure they have their agenda. But they are far from alone. Agendas buoyed by blatant lies, half-truths, white-lies, or withholdings have been promoted by many. The two articles are just very good examples of the phenomena. Without the ability to actually determine which article champions the truth of climate change, I can only consider the conflicting testimonies being told and accept neither as truth. Truth about climate change does exist but it is concealed beneath many layers of lies. The vast majority of people, myself included, do not have the ability to dig through them and determine who is telling the truth.

Man-made global warming (now climate change) is a topic causing heated (no pun intended) debates across the nation. You may be stalwart in your belief that climate change is man-made or that it is political fiction. There are many on each side of the debate.

I depend on the Word of God, the Holy Bible to tell me the truth. Examination of evidence I have seen proves its veracity. My personal history explains my point of view in this matter. I only wish those in positions of power in our world would tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

From what I have seen and have learned, I believe:

  • The climate is indeed changing.
  • Humanity has caused a lot of damage to our planet.
  • We should be stewards of our world.
  • We should endeavor to clean up the messes we have made.
  • We should endeavor to not do any more harm than we have to.
  • Mankind is not the major contributor to climate change.
  • It will not be the end of our world or mankind. 
  • A half-truth is a half-lie.