Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Mary of Cleophas

Mary of Cleophas was the wife of Cleopas (also called Clopas, Cleopas, and Alpheus).  In John 19:25, she appears with the mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene at the crucifixion. She is most likely the unnamed disciple that meets Jesus on the road to Emmaus with her husband Cleophas in Luke 24:13–35. 

Mark and Matthew both place Mary of Cleophas among the women who went to the tomb early on Easter morning to anoint the body of Jesus for burial.  Matthew calls her “the other Mary” to distinguish her from Mary of Nazareth and Mary of Magdala.  Mark calls her Mary of James because she is also the mother of James the Less. 

Saint Jerome and the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius record that Cleophas was the brother of Joseph.  Therefore, Mary of Cleophas was the sister-in-law of Mary of Nazareth, and the aunt of Jesus. 

According to an Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord written in the late first century, Mary of Cleophas was the mother of James the Just (also called the younger, or the less), the mother of Joseph (also called Levi and Joses), and the mother of Simon the Zealot (also called Simeon), and Jude the Apostle (also called Thaddaeus, Barnabas, Theudas, Lebbaeus and Judas.  This Jude is not the same Judas the Iscariot who betrayed Jesus to the authorities.

The identity of Mary of Cleophas has been disputed through the centuries because of the various names given to her relatives depending on the language used, and the seeming contradictions in various narratives in which she appears.  One interpretation of the known facts is that Mary of Cleophas had a prior marriage to Alpheus who fathered James and Joses, and Simon and Jude were the sons of Cleophas from a previous marriage. 

A less credible interpretation is that Mary of Cleophas was the blood sister of Mary of Nazareth through a second marriage of her mother Saint Anne. 

The most widely held view is that this Mary was the wife of Joseph’s brother Cleophas, the sister-in-law of Mary of Nazareth, the aunt of Jesus, and mother of his cousins James, Joseph, Simon and Jude.  Incidentally, Simon lived in Cana and is believed by some to have been the bridegroom at the Wedding at Cana.  Jesus and his mother were attending the wedding of his cousin, Simon, when Jesus performed his first miracle.