6 “Facts” You Think Are In the Bible….But Aren’t

by Alisa Childers

It’s no secret that biblical literacy is at an all-time low. This is not surprising, given that cultural trends show many people leaving Christianity for atheism, and many others embracing a “spiritual but not religious” mindset. You probably can’t fool the average Christian into thinking that the Bible says, “God helps those who help themselves,” or “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” BUT there are some common  “facts” and stories that regularly make their way into sermons, Bible studies, and conversations among otherwise biblically literate Christians. Here are 6 facts you think are in the Bible but aren’t:

1. Mary Magdalene was a prostitute.
Undoubtedly one of the most important figures in the New Testament is Mary Magdalene. She was a friend of Jesus, one of the faithful who stayed by Him during His crucifixion, and the first person to whom Jesus appeared after His resurrection. From historical art pieces to the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar to the best-selling book The DaVinci Code to modern movies and television, she is almost always portrayed as a former prostitute. There is one problem with this assumption: the Bible never identifies her as such.

It’s difficult to determine where this faulty characterization came from, but it was most likely from a confused reading of Luke 7:36-50. This passage describes a “sinful woman” who breaks a jar of expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet, wipes them with her hair and kisses them. Although the Bible never gives the woman’s name or even implies it is Mary, the two women have become conflated throughout church history. (1) Mary definitely had a rough past— she was delivered of seven demons, according to Luke 8:1-3. However, of the twelve times she is mentioned in the Gospels, not one suggests that she was a prostitute…

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6 “Facts” You Think Are In the Bible….But Aren’t