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Mary and the Women at the Raising of Lazarus

A third-century sarcophagus is the oldest to depict Mary of Bethany with Jesus at the miracle of the Raising of Lazarus, her brother. Mary is accompanied by two women in a scene of gender balance. In the fourth century, however, only Mary remains, and she seems to shrink. What happened to Mary?

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Mary and the Women at the Raising of Lazarus

  1. 1. Mary and the Women at the Raising of Lazarus
  2. 2. The Raising of Lazarus, John 11:1-45 Then Mary, when she came where Jesus was and saw him, fell at his feet. - John 11:32a (RSV)
  3. 3. The “Jonas sarcophagus” in the Vatican Museum, dated around 280, has the earliest scene of the Raising of Lazarus with Mary there.
  4. 4. Jesus, in the center, points at Lazarus, who is wrapped in a shroud in the doorway of his tomb.
  5. 5. The gospel of John says Mary fell at his feet.
  6. 6. Another woman stands behind Mary. Both of their heads were lost and reconstructed . . .
  7. 7. . . . but an onsite inspection shows the sculptor carved both with longer skirts than the men.
  8. 8. Before Constantine, women were often depicted without head coverings.
  9. 9. A third woman, today armless, has a head covering.
  10. 10. Her head covering, clothing, and bent-knee posture suggest her lost arms may have been outspread like this woman.
  11. 11. Behind Jesus stands another man.
  12. 12. The sculptor depicted three men and three women.
  13. 13. The sculptor depicted three men and three women.
  14. 14. The sculptor depicted three men and three women.
  15. 15. A remarkable gospel scene with gender balance.
  16. 16. This sarcophagus is dated late third century. Very few third-century sarcophagi exist. After Constantine, on fourth-century sarcophagi, two of the women disappear from the scene.
  17. 17. On a fourth-century sarcophagus, we see only Mary.
  18. 18. She always has a head covering.
  19. 19. And, she seems to shrink.
  20. 20. What was happening to Mary?
  21. 21. Interestingly, in this scene we later see “Mary and Martha,” with the second woman again standing behind Mary. The oldest scene, however, with three women and three men, is never seen again. Late 7th or early 8th -century Grado ivory, British Museum
  22. 22. Art as Text By Ally Kateusz In honor of Elizabeth Schrader