“And very early in the morning, the first day of the week, they came to the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.” (Mark 16:2)
St. Gregory Palamas preaching on this Sunday in Thessalonika in 1351 says: “Now we have ascertained all the events with regard to the Myrrhbearers and we have reconciled the four Evangelists.”
In the first seminary I attended, we were taught that the four Gospels recording the Resurrection of Our Lord contradicted each other in who, how many, and when, the women came to the tomb. We were taught that this was a good thing, because it proved that the Evangelists did not collude in writing the Gospels. I had to become Orthodox to learn, not only from St. Gregory Palamas, but from all the Holy Fathers down to our own time including blessed Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky, that the Gospels recording Our Lord’s Resurrection DO NOT contradict one another!
I had to become Orthodox before I learned who the “other Mary” was. St. Matthew in 28:1 says: “In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalen and the other Mary to see see the sepulchre.” But the first to see the Risen Lord was not Mary Magdalen. Indeed she was the first of the other Myrrhbearers to see Him later in the day. The very first to see Him was the “other Mary”. In St. Mark 15:47, it says: “Mary Magdalen and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where He was laid.”
In 16:1, St. Mark refers to “Mary Magdalen and Mary the mother of James and Salome”. Who is this “other Mary” whom the Evangelists refer to in such a shadowy way but the stepmother of Joseph’s children by another marriage. And who is the stepmother of Joseph’s children James, Joses and Salome but the Theotokos herself?!!
St. Gregory of Nyssa says that the “other Mary” who came to the tomb with Mary Magdalen was the Theotokos. St. Gregory Palamas writes: “With the expression “the other Mary” the Evangelist means without a doubt the Mother of Christ. She was also called the mother of James and Joses who were the children of Joseph the Betrothed.” Blessed Jerome comments: “What a poor and impious view we take of Mary, if we hold that when the other women were concerned about the burial of Jesus His Mother was absent, or if we invent some second kind of Mary.”
None of this was clear to me before becoming Orthodox. I had to become Orthodox to find out who “the other Mary” was! We have to read the Bible with the Holy Fathers, brothers and sisters! And this is what we do at our “Patristic Bible Study” each week.