The Bible and Beyond Podcast Episode

Mary Magdalene was Probably Not from Magdala

Elizabeth Schrader Polczer headshot

Elizabeth Schrader Polczer, photo by Megan Mendenhall

An interview with Elizabeth Schrader Polczer

Elizabeth Schrader Polczer claims that there has always been controversy over Mary Magdalene’s name and birthplace. She argues that Mary Magdalene was probably not from Magdala. So the name we use to refer to her should be ‘Mary Magdalene’ and not ‘Mary of Magdala’ for both historical reasons and the fact that Mary appears in better light if she came from Bethany instead of Magdala. However, Polzcer discusses the conflicting evidence from antiquity and concludes that acknowledging multiple legitimate interpretations is probably the best way to honor her memory.

Elizabeth “Libbie” Schrader Polczer is a doctoral candidate in Early Christianity at Duke University. Her studies focus on textual criticism, Mary Magdalene, the Gospel of John, and the Nag Hammadi corpus. Her peer reviewed publications include “Was Martha of Bethany Added to the Fourth Gospel in the Second Century?” Harvard Theological Review 110:3 (2017) and the article this podcast is based on: “The Meaning of ‘Magdalene’: A Review of Literary Evidence” (co-write with Joan Taylor) the Journal of Biblical Literature 140:4 (2021).  Website | Twitter

This podcast is part of a “Focus on Mary Magdelene” series of posts, videos, podcasts, and a discussion happening during October/November of 2022. Click to learn more.