The Life of the Lord Jesus Christ

By Johann Peter Lange

Edited by Rev. Marcus Dods






Section XVI

the first journey of the apostles. the progress of Christ through the towns. the woman who was a sinner. the followers of Jesus. the young man at nain

(Mat 11:1. Mar 6:12-13. Luk 7:11-17, vers. 36-50; chap. 8:1-18)

The disciples then set forth with the power and instructions which Jesus had given them. They proclaimed the commencement of the new kingdom of heaven, and preached repentance. But with especial zeal, such as is explained by the enthusiastic feelings of beginners in the apostolic ministry, they devoted themselves to the casting out of devils. In the cures which they performed, they joined anointing with oil to the miraculous power with which they worked (Mar 6:13; Luk 9:6). Thus they went before, preparing the way for their Master, and that too in the direction of Jerusalem, as is plainly to be gathered from the connection. Thus it might easily happen that here and there some of them might again meet with Him; and we may suppose that Jesus, especially at Jerusalem, where He soon after appeared at the feast of Purim, saw a good many of them again assembled round Him. But the whole company of the apostles did not regularly assemble around Him until after His return from the feast, as is clearly shown from Mark’s account (6:30, 31), as also from Luke’s (9:10).

As has already been intimated, the apostles made for their Lord a freer space for the exercise of His ministry; partly inasmuch as, in particular, through their zeal in working miracles, they kept a crowd of people, especially superficial admirers, from running after Jesus, or drew them after themselves; and partly again by curing many sick people in His name. And hence, in going through the towns where the disciples had already passed (ἐν ταῖς πόλεσιν αὐτῶν, Mat 11:1), the Lord was able to turn Himself at once to such as were ready to receive Him, and to devote Himself most especially to the work of teaching; although, wherever He went, He was still surrounded by people needing help, and much distress vanished at His presence, which the disciples were not as yet able to relieve.

In this expedition the Lord seems first to have visited the towns and villages by the sea. Hence He might soon have reached Magdala, which lay southward on the western shore of the lake. This place, which in all probability is now represented by a poor village, ‘of an almost ruinous appearance,’ called el Mejdel, and situated in a large plain between the Galilean mountains and the sea-shore, in a neighbourhood made lovely by the oleander,1 is known as the birthplace of Mary Magdalene. We have already given the ground which we have for accepting the tradition which says that Mary Magdalene (Luk 8:2) is identical with ‘the woman which was a sinner’ (7:37).2 It must here be further observed, that that sinner who magnified with such a marvellous strength of soul the redeeming grace of Christ, must in all probability be found again somewhere within the circle of disciples; but also, that it is very easy to be explained why the Evangelists would not describe the former sinner, but would the later disciple. Hence we have ground for presuming that the affair of the anointing, in which ‘the woman which was a sinner’ appears in view, took place at Magdala. For that this occurrence must have taken place in the course of that journey of the Lord’s, which is just here to be set forth, is evident from the fact, that this circumstance comes forward as happening at the same time with John the Baptist’s message to Jesus, of which we shall have to treat presently. If we consider the above-mentioned circumstances together, it strikes us that both suppositions decidedly support one another. The woman which was a sinner becomes to us with much more certainty the woman of Magdala, from the circumstance that Jesus was apparently now in the region of Magdala; and the city of the woman which was a sinner appears to us with all the greater probability to be the town of Magdala, since we already otherwise have indications leading us to recognize that convert in the disciple of Magdala.

A Pharisee invited the Lord to be his guest. And He willingly accepted the invitation. The fact that Jesus was not disposed to refuse such an invitation, shows us how entirely He felt Himself master of His own spirit, and that He knew how completely to command even such opportunities as these, and to make them subserve the objects of His kingdom of heaven. Besides this, we may suppose that Jesus took into account the fact, that men are never more open, or more submissive, or more susceptible to the word of love, than when they themselves are in some way showing love; that thus they are most ready to accept the Gospel from the mouth of a guest, and when the mood of their family is that of festive pleasure. To this was no doubt added the motive, that by refusing, Christ might at least have given occasion to the Pharisees to accuse Him of repulsing them. He was so divinely free from all feelings of resentment, from all fear of and prejudice against the party which had so often shown hostility to Him, that He could quietly sit down in a Pharisee’s house.

But it was a contingency which excited astonishment (καὶ ἰδού), that just in this place a woman should seek Him out who was known in the city as a sinner, and therefore held in bad repute. If He had not been there, she would not have dared to set foot in that house, which in its perfumed respectability, enveloped, as it were, by a vapour of pharisaical strictness, must have been a terror to such fallen ones as she. And if the woman had not been already inspired by a working of the redeeming grace of Christ—how it had penetrated into her heart we know not—she would certainly not have ventured to seek Him out there. Yes, she might even have thought with despair that Jesus was now far beyond her reach, since He was making Himself friendly with that inexorably strict man. But no fear of this sort can any more spring up in her heart. She is sure of Him, and knows that in Simon’s house He is now Master, King, and Judge. Suddenly then she stands in the middle of the room where the guests were at meat, close behind Jesus, who was reclining on the couch, and at His feet. For His feet it is her purpose to anoint with some ointment which she has brought; and with deepest humility, which dares not presume to anoint His head, she will also show Him the deepest gratitude by sacrificing what was most precious for the benefit of His feet. And as she stands thus close to Him, and is about to offer Him this homage, she breaks out into loud weeping and sinks down on her knees, her tears falling in streams upon His feet. In holy and beautiful confusion, she seems to wish to make amends for having moistened His feet with her tears; she turns about in her mind for some means of drying them, and in her hurry and the excitement of her feelings she can find nothing but the hair of her head. But she sees at once that her hair is but little suited for such a purpose; she considers the feet of Jesus as being doubly dishonoured, both by her tears and by her drying them with her hair; and by a sudden impulse of her heart, she seeks to make amends by covering His feet with her kisses. Thus there follows in rapid succession one feature after another, of agitation, of confusion, of heroic courage, of faith, and of heavenly purity and unreservedness of love: she concludes her holy word by applying the ointment itself.

Evidently this narrative is one of the boldest triumphs of the Spirit of Christ and of the spirit of His believers over Pharisaism, in its suspicion, and narrowness, and ascetic anxiety. The moment of the fallen woman’s kissing the feet of Jesus shows the entire heavenly superiority of the spirit of redemption over the mind of the flesh. The woman was now as it were pure in spirit; and in kissing the feet of Christ, a seal was set upon the holiness of her frame of mind, as if her lips had touched the cold stone of her sepulchre, or had been purified by coals of fire from the altar of God. The Lord showed a perfect confidence in the sincerity of this expression of her heart. The scene itself was a feast of Christian reconciliation, seen in its superiority to the spirit of Pharisaism. Hesitations, perplexities were not to be thought of.

The Pharisee Simon, it is true, could not enter into any part of this scene. There was in his spirit no apprehension of the truth, that now the angels of God were rejoicing in heaven. He was exasperated to think that the woman had even set foot upon his threshold. And still more, he seems to take offence at her having handled with such affection the man whom he had invited. And that Jesus could suffer this led him to draw the conclusion that ‘this man’ did not know how to discern spirits, therefore he could certainly be no prophet. For that Jesus could know who this woman is, what manner of woman this is (τίς καὶ ποταπή), so notorious a sinner, and yet could thus receive her,—this appeared to him wholly incredible, because he knew nothing either of the possibility of such a conversion as this woman evinced, or of the possibility of such mercy as Christ exhibited towards her. His face showed the displeasure he felt. Jesus looked at him with the calmest pity; this is evident both from His look and His word. ‘Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee!’ ‘Master, say on!’ answered the displeased man. And then Jesus related to him the parable of the two debtors of a creditor who cancelled both their debts; one a debt of five hundred pence, the other of fifty pence. Simon himself shall judge which of the two debtors, after being thus forgiven their debts, will love their benefactor the most. He judges quite rightly; and Jesus now shows him that the right judgment which he has pronounced on the parable has been pronounced against his own prejudging in the case of this woman; that through this very judgment he has proved himself to be in a very unfavourable position in respect to Himself. He now turns to the woman with approving recognition. ‘Seest thou this woman?’ He asks him. Simon probably imagined that he would be polluted by even looking at her.

And now Christ shows him by sharp contrasts how rich the woman’s love is in comparison to his. Jesus had entered into Simon’s house; from Simon, therefore, He was here entitled to expect the highest proofs of love. But Simon had not even offered Him water for His feet; far less, with kind solicitude, did he have His feet washed by a servant, or wash them himself, as even the host might sometimes do when he wished to distinguish a guest. Therefore this woman, a stranger, was obliged to come forward, and before the eyes of His cold host wash His feet with her tears, dry them with her hair. Simon had omitted to give Him the kiss of friendly greeting; the woman, on the other hand, had kissed His feet. Simon had not anointed His head; but she had not thought her ointment too good to bestow upon His feet. These facts proved that the Pharisee had at any rate not invited the Lord with any warmth of feeling or devoted love; that perhaps he had all along been not indisposed to find some shady side in his Guest. But in these facts Simon ought now to recognize evidence of the great love which this woman entertained, and he should infer from that the great forgiveness which had been accorded to her. In reference to Simon’s doing, however, He, in His forbearance, drew in a more general manner His conclusions in reference to Simon’s want of love, and in reference also to his experience of reconciliation: ‘But to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little!’ He does not perhaps make merely love in its highest sense, as, e.g., love to Him, to be the token of forgiveness, but love generally. Nevertheless, in the same measure that love is unfolded in its pure spiritual fulness as true eternal love, in that measure must it of necessity exhibit itself in love to Him.

And now, without regard to the gainsaying of the pharisaical spirit, Jesus crowned His work by solemnly proclaiming to the woman, ‘Thy sins are forgiven thee!’ This word exasperated still more those who were sitting at meat with Him. Both in their thoughts and by their gestures they plainly denied his right to forgive sins. But He gave a yet bolder expression to this act of reconciliation, by showing how entirely the woman had, through the inward state of her mind, made herself a partaker of reconciliation; how entirely the woman had thus already herself overcome the sentence which condemned her: ‘Thy faith hath saved thee (He said to her), go in peace!’ With this blessing He dismissed her: she belonged now to His kingdom of peace, and was thus acknowledged as a God-reconciled disciple of His Church.3

Quite lately some have identified this narrative with the account of Christ’s anointing at Bethany, in both narratives choosing to see only different accounts of the same transaction; and this because in both cases a woman anoints the Lord, and because both anointings took place during a feast in the house of a Simon. But this critical hypothesis forms only a worthy counterpart to the confusion of the two narratives of the nobleman and the centurion at Capernaum. In both cases that ‘criticism’ displays the same keen sense of outside similarities in different events, and the same inability or disinclination at all to estimate the spiritual character of the scenes represented, and consequently the same sensuousness, and hasty or intentional, even wilful, superficialness of judgment. It is of itself calculated to awake suspicion, they say, that in both cases an anointing of Jesus should have taken place, and certainly that both should have taken place in the house of one Simon! But we see how common the name of Simon was amongst the Jews from the circumstance that there were two men of the name of Simon amongst the disciples; and besides that, Judas Iscariot was the son of Simon. Then again we see that that second Simon is even distinguished from the first, who was the Pharisee, by the name of the Leper. Thus this man was apparently one whom Jesus had cured of leprosy, and who was therefore attached to Him by feelings of true gratitude. If we are inclined to find any difficulty in the fact of Jesus having been anointed twice in the house of a Simon (though in truth there is no difficulty at all in it), then this distinction would of itself suffice to lead us to the supposition, that the name of the second host might have been conferred upon the first in the tradition from which Luke derived his account.4 But instead of that supposition, men prefer to disregard, with the distinction already noted, all those more strongly marked distinctions between the two occurrences—the difference of the time, of the place, of the festivity of Jesus’ companions at table, and in the manner of the anointing, as well as of the previous transactions. But it is still worse that any one can misapprehend forms of character and situations of mind, such as are depicted with such wonderful sharpness and delicacy, as is the case with the two women who come before us in the two scenes. Here a sobbing penitent, who in extreme agitation sees her own old life as a corpse, so to speak, before her eyes, and with the sense of her deliverance through the grace of Christ, sinks down at His feet; there a solemnly calm disciple, who, in the silent presentiment of Jesus’ passion, with a feeling of heartfelt sadness, prepares for Him the highest glorification which as yet is in her power to do. In fact, a critical mind who can see in these representations faint forms blending one into another, because there chances on the scene to be two hosts of the name of Simon, or other similarities, would seem more qualified to assort titles and uniforms than to distinguish between the highest forms of character and situations of mind which we find in the lofty region of primitive Christian history, or of Christian spiritual life.

Immediately after this occurrence we find the Lord again resuming His journeyings from city to city and from village to village. It was no doubt on this journey that some eminent female disciples joined themselves to His company. Luke first of all mentions those whom He had healed of evil spirits and infirmities, particularly Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven devils, Joanna the wife of Chusa, the steward of Herod Antipas, and Susanna (שֹוֺשָֹנָהlily), of whom no further description is given. To these were added many others. The Evangelist Mark (15:40, 41) gives us the names of some of these others, besides that of Magdalene, who has been already mentioned; namely, Mary, the real mother of the sons of Alpheus, and Salome, the mother of the sons of Zebedee. Concerning these three and other like-minded women, who stood afar off on Golgotha and gazed upon the Crucified One, he says, that they had ministered to Him when He was in Galilee, and had come up with Him to Jerusalem. From this remark we cannot suppose that these women joined themselves to the Lord on the occasion of His last journey to Jerusalem; first, because that last journey was through Perזa, and because Jesus stayed a longer time in this neighbourhood than in Galilee; and then again, because these women had already attached themselves to Him before Jesus made His longer stay in Galilee in the summer of the year 782 (Joh 7:1). The Evangelist Luke explains to us in what way they served Him (8:3); he says, ‘They ministered unto Him of their substance.’

It is at once obvious to suppose that this relation was formed just at that time, when the sons of the two women, Mary the wife of Alpheus and Salome, commenced a closer attendance upon the Lord; when in general a new and common housekeeping had become necessary among the disciples of Jesus, who now formed one household with Him, Judas managing the purse (Joh 12:6). We can easily understand that at that time especially the widowed Marys, the mother of Jesus and the mother of James, would know of no higher duty than to assist His cause with their personal presence and with all their substance, and that Salome, with her aspiring temperament, would willingly join them. By means of this circle of women, long known and nearly related, which surrounded Jesus, it had become possible, even in face of the strict requirements of Jewish manners, for Him to be accompanied by other female disciples of lofty and high-minded feeling, who felt grateful to Him for healing and deliverance which they had themselves experienced. These, in company with many other disciples, and perhaps a few of the apostles who might be going and coming, formed the wandering family of Jesus; assuredly an elect company, borne aloft by the deepest aspirations and the highest hopes far above the littleness of ordinary human life, whether Jewish or other. This relation was, as it were, a type of the spiritual Christian company of elect souls in its state of perfection, which has Christ Himself for its centre. Together with the Christian spiritual life, this circle developed the higher spiritual form of family feeling, binding together these female disciples; the solemn spirit in which they went about together; the self-sacrifice with which they devoted their property to supply the wants of Jesus. And that Jesus should have accepted with such perfect calmness the charity of these female disciples, shows at once His humility and His greatness; thereby also clearly exhibiting His perfect confidence in the purity and in the faithfulness of these followers. We see in this community the dawn of a new world of love, which only the Spirit of Christ can call into life.

It accords with the direction of Christ’s journey, as well as with the chronology of the Evangelists, if we suppose that it was on this journey that Jesus came to the little town of Nain, and that it was on this occasion that He performed there His well-known miracle. It is true that Luke has made this occurrence precede the narrative of the pardoned sinner.5 We can explain this arrangement if we take for granted that the order of these two occurrences was not accurately known to him, and that he had a motive for placing the raising of the young man at Nain before John the Baptist’s message to Jesus, in order, in some degree, to give ground for those words of Jesus: ‘The dead are raised up!’ But that in a general way the Baptist’s message, as well as the narrative of the young man at Nain and that of the pardoned woman, all happened at one period, and formed one chain of events, is clearly shown by Luke’s account. One might, indeed, here raise the question, why the Evangelist should not rather have rested the already quoted words of Jesus upon the account of the raising of Jairus’ daughter? It was, however, well known to him that this raising belongs to another connection, even though it might not have been known to him whether it came in point of time earlier or later. That this occurrence at Nain is not found in the other Evangelists, is explained by the circumstance that about this time Jesus had not His disciples with Him. It does not belong to the works of Jesus handed down by apostolic eye-witnesses. St Luke, on the contrary, who is greatly indebted to the tradition of Jesus’ female disciples, no doubt obtained from them this miracle also.

The little town of Nain6 is still to be found between the south side of Tabor, in Galilee, and the Little Hermon, at the foot of the latter;7 though, indeed, it is only in the form of a small hamlet, called Nein.8

The Lord was approaching the little town, surrounded by His many disciples and by a crowd of people. ‘The many disciples,’ introduced with this definiteness (with the article9), seem to present themselves almost in contradistinction to the Twelve. Near the gate of the town a large funeral met the company of Jesus and His disciples; it was that of a young man who was being carried to his grave, the only son of a widow, who accompanied the corpse weeping. The two processions form a strong contrast to one another. The one is a festive procession in its loftiest sense, the other a mourning procession above the ordinary. The town of Nain is as it were deserted through its sympathy with the bereaved widow. Should Christ pass by this procession, and fill the desolate, saddened place with His triumphing companions? He could not, and He would not allow the sad procession to pass thus. Suddenly, in the most gracious manner, He stopped in the way. To the woman He spoke the great though simple word: ‘Weep not!’ He caused the bearers of the open coffin to stand still, through the majesty with which He laid His hand on the bier; thus giving a sign that He laid claim to this supposed prey of death. Hereupon He summoned the young man back to life. The first signs of life again appeared in his raising himself to a sitting posture on the bier, and beginning to speak. Thus had Jesus given him back to his mother. To the people of Nain this deed was entirely unexpected, unhoped for, soaring above all their anticipations. Even to them who had been near at the raising of Jairus’ daughter, this was quite a new occurrence. For this was the raising up of a dead man who was already being carried to the grave, and performed too in the sight of all. Hence there came a holy fear on all; this awakening thrilled through their souls as a deed of God. But the terror which filled them was a happy and blessed one when they saw death itself thus destroyed, when suddenly a view was opened to them into the new world of the resurrection; and they glorified God. Through this event it was become clearer to them than ever that a great prophet was risen up in Jesus; ay, that God was now coming to visit His people, that the time of redemption was at hand. And the fame of this deed was spread abroad throughout the country.



1. In vol. ii. p. 733 seq., Strauss has given himself the trouble to confuse together, according to their outward similarities and differences, the two narratives of anointing, the account of the adulteress in John, and that of Jesus entering into the house of Mary and Martha (Luk 10:38), in order then to come to the result (p. 745), that apparently these narratives all sprang from two different reports of primitive Christian tradition: on the one hand, ‘from the report of a woman who had anointed Jesus, had been abused on that account, but had been defended by Jesus; and on the other hand, of a woman whom He had rebuked for her many sins, but whom He had absolved.’ In this paragraph the reader may learn the whole secret of the said ‘critic’s’ critical art. And there are two things which appear really to constitute this ‘critical’ art: first, a way of viewing things which is utterly destitute of all tact, and mistakes all the inward features of the given representation; and secondly, a fantastic way of stating things which utterly distorts all the external features. For the first, this tactless perception cannot see that the scene in which the woman who was a sinner appears is radically different in its spiritual character from the scene in which the adulteress is judged, and that in like manner the quiet domestic scene in Martha’s house has entirely a different physiognomy from the account of the anointing in the house of Simon the Leper. It is forced, indeed, to show itself without tact in a most remarkable degree, in further hardening itself against the speaking spiritual unity, wherein each one of the four events appears as a picture absolute and complete in itself. But after it has succeeded in seeing in these representations only isolated, faded, and fragmentary profiles of questionable and lifeless events, it then gives them over to a fantastic dialectic, to set about the exhibition of the outward similarities and differences between the narratives. And first the differences are heightened. Thus not only is the account of the anointing near the sea to be different from the account of the anointing at Bethany, but also the account of the latter, as we find it on the one hand in John, and on the other in Mark and Matthew, is made to refer to two distinct occurrences. According to the synoptic Evangelists, the feast is in the house of Simon the Leper; according to John, Martha is mentioned as serving, and Lazarus as among those sitting at meat. And thus it is to follow that Lazarus (not Simon therefore) is the host. Against this, see Ebrard, p. 321. In truth, to go no further, it requires a certain confidence in this kind of criticism to conclude from the notice that one was present at a feast that he must needs be the host. And the notice that Martha served, does not in the least justify this conclusion. Surely in the house of a friend she might have served, if she desired to do so. But she might really, as some have already conjectured, have been the widow of one Simon, after whom the house was still called. Besides, the time (they tell us) is different: the feast which the synoptic Evangelists refer to (Mat 26:1; Mar 14:1) was at most two days before the Passover, while the feast, according to John, was as much as six days before the Passover. But from the general connection of the account given by the synoptists of this feast, especially by Matthew, it results that the object of the Evangelists is to explain the last and most definite announcement of the sufferings of Jesus which He uttered two days before the Passover, by returning to what took place during the feast at Bethany. They wished to show that even before this announcement the presentiment of Jesus’ death declared itself both in the act of Mary’s anointing and in the interpretation which Jesus gave to it, and that even at that time preparations for His death had commenced, that is to say, in the determination of Judas to betray Him, which was now definitely formed. Therefore, as pragmatical narrators,10 they return to the earlier occurrence in Bethany in order to assign a reason for Jesus’ later announcement. A third difference is said to consist in this, that John describes the anointing woman as the well-known Mary, whilst by the other Evangelists she is merely designated as a woman. That this is no real difference, is evident. We may, indeed, be led to ask, Why did not the two synoptists call her Mary? Grotius and Herder have supposed that these Evangelists did not wish to bring the family of Lazarus into danger by an open mention of the name, a precaution which John, who wrote later, had no need to exercise. (See Strauss, i. 743.) Strauss calls this an unwarranted supposition, without considering that an explanatory supposition of this kind was all that was wanted here. But, in truth, the Evangelists may have been influenced by a higher motive in designating the anointing one by the general appellation of a woman. That the disciples even were blinded, and not yet aware of what lay before them—this fact they give prominence to by the strong contrast—a woman stepped forward, and showed in a symbolical manner her presentiment of Jesus’ death, or else her sympathy with His presentiment. But more important is the circumstance, which is further brought forward, that according to the synoptists the woman pours the ointment over the head of Jesus, whilst according to John she anoints His feet. The ‘older interpretation,’ that both perhaps was the case, Strauss calls trivial. But if we but picture to ourselves the particulars of the anointing, which indisputably is quite possible, we shall then only have to explain why it was that the synoptists preferred to describe the anointing of the head, and John, on the other hand, the anointing of the feet. Evidently the former are full of the startling stepping forward of the woman, so they fasten upon the beginning of her proceeding; and with this view, Mark describes still more particularly how with heroic passion she broke the glass to pieces over Jesus’ head. (The thought here of any possible injury through the fragments of broken glass, is as little worth mentioning as was the fear of a dangerous fall of tiles at Capernaum when they were breaking through the roof.) This ripeness of anticipation on the part of the female disciple is meant to stand forth in the brightest light as a contrast to the absence of all foreboding on the part of the disciples; this is what the synoptists have in view in their account John, on the other hand, exhibits this deed of Mary’s as an act of the most devoted and humble love, in opposition to the malignity which was at work amongst the circle of the disciples in the heart of the betrayer; and hence he tells the striking points of the deed, how she anointed the feet of Jesus, and then dried them with her hair, and how the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. And, finally, the account given above of the real state of the case has already explained why the synoptists relate that the disciples had blamed the transaction, whilst John only speaks of Judas. John had fixed his eyes upon the real originator of this false judgment, by whom in their blind ignorance the others had been led away; the synoptists, on the other hand, had especially in view the narrow-mindedness of the disciples in general.

After summing up all these differences, the ‘critic’ asks: ‘Especially how can it be supposed, that if Jesus had so decidedly defended on another, and even on two earlier occasions, the honour shown to Him by anointing, the disciples, or even one of them, could again and even a third time have expressed their disapproval of it?’ In answer, we have then to point out a slight instance of mistake, of the fashion of those which belong to that masterly ‘criticism’ which has been above described. For in the house of the Pharisee it was not the anointing that Jesus defended, but the sinner. Next follow the similarities which are said to connect the first anointing with the second in Matthew and Mark’s Gospels: twice one Simon appears as master of the house in which the feast is given; twice a woman anointing, whose name is not mentioned, who does not belong to the house; twice an alabaster-box. Upon this a resemblance is mentioned between the first anointing in Luke’s Gospel and the second in John’s; for on both occasions it was an anointing of the feet, and on both occasions the woman dried them with the hair of her head. Through these resemblances then, these two anointings also are confused together in order to form one narrative; as if we did not constantly see kindred narratives exhibiting the natural interchange of resemblances and differences. But these resemblances in question have no doubt been sufficiently explained already. Concerning the drying of the feet of Jesus with her hair, Mary might very well, with the clearest consciousness, appreciate the extreme expression of humility which she knew had first been exhibited by the woman who was a sinner; although, with respect to her, the further consideration arises, that she wiped off the ointment from the feet of Jesus with her hair, perhaps meaning to say thereby, that she found therein an especial adornment for her head; whilst the woman in the first anointing was, as has been shown, led to this act by quite another sentiment, and performed it before the anointing. Now, at length ‘criticism’ reaches the climax of its boldness, in jumbling together the narrative of the adulteress and of the events in Martha’s house into one set of traditions, in consequence of the similarities existing between them and the accounts of the anointings. It remarks that the angry judgment which the Pharisee in his heart passes upon the woman who was a sinner, and the open judgment which the Pharisees passed upon the adulteress, both of them, together with Martha’s slight censure of her sister, as well as with Judas’ bitter rebuke of Mary’s anointing, fall all of them under the same category of disapproval. Thus ‘criticism’ observes these resemblances; sophism takes them away from their connection; special pleading makes them take the shape of identities, and at last, as a climax of ingenious jugglery, blends them all together. And with other similarities the same game is carried on.

2. The rationalistic hypothesis, according to which the young man at Nain was called back to life by Jesus from being only apparently dead, has been sufficiently set aside by Strauss, ii. 129. Concerning other rationalistic treatments of this narrative, see Ebrard, 282.



1) See Robinson, ii, 397. [ʻA wretched hamlet of a dozen low huts huddled into one, and the whole ready to tumble into a dismal heap of black basaltic rubbish.’—Thomson, p. 420. But see also Ewald’s Christus, pp. 253 and 376 (2d Ed.).— ED.]

2) [To deny this is one of the present fashions of interpreters. Ellicott thinks (p. 182, note) that ‘the very affliction of Mary Magdalene seems in itself sufficient to distinguish her from one whom no hint of the Evangelist leads us to suppose was then, or formerly had been, a demoniac,’—ED.]

3) [On the connection of love with the forgiveness of sins, much that is interesting is said by Schlciermacher, Prcdigten, i. 522.—ED.]

4) Other similarities indeed have been mentioned, which, on a nearer inspection, will prove to be differences, as we shall presently show in a note.

5) The Evangelist links together this occurrence with the account of the cure of the centurion’s servant at Capernaum by the determination of time, ἐν τῇ or ἐν τῷ ἑξῆς. We cannot suppose that Jesus was one day at Capernaum and the very next at Nain, ‘Also positive indications, as we have seen, militate against such a chronological arrangement. From internal evidence, therefore, we give the preference to the reading ἐν τῷ (χρόνῳ). [Tisehendorf and Alford read ἐν τῇ; Andrews maintains this reading, on the ground that the distance from Capernaum to Nain is only twenty-five miles, and might therefore be very easily accomplished in a day.—ED.]

6) According to Simonis, נָאִין ridge, pasture’—Winer.

7) [‘It took me just an hour to ride from the foot of Tabor to Nain,’ Thomson, p. 445, But this was an easy pace of four or five miles an hour.—ED.]

8) See Robinson, ii. 361.

9) Luke vii. 11, οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ἱκανοί [His disciples in considerable numbers. TR.]

10) [As wishing to explain the motives of actions. TR.]