The presence of a group of female disciples of Jesus at the crucifixion of Jesus is found in all four Gospels of the New Testament. There have been different interpretations how many and which women were present. Although some Christian traditions hold that there were Three Marys at the cross, only one gospel claims this, and these names differ from the other gospels.

Narrative comparison

Matthew Mark Luke John
Women at the cross Matthew 27:55–56
many women ... who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee
Mark 15:40
women ... among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome
Luke 23:49
the women who had followed him from Galilee
John 19:25
his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene
Women at the burial Matthew 27:61
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb
Mark 15:47
Mary Magdalene and Mary of Joses saw where he was laid
Luke 23:55
the women who had come with him from Galilee
Women visiting the tomb Matthew 28:1
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary
Mark 16:1
Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome
Luke 24:10
Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them
John 20:1
Mary Magdalene


Hans Memeling (c. 1468) - group at the foot of the cross

Matthew and Mark, who speak of "many women" present at the crucifixion, mention three individually at the death of Jesus and two at his burial. Matthew describes the third individual present at the death as the mother of the sons of Zebedee, without naming her. Mark's third individual is called Salome. Luke mentions none individually. John mentions four individually, including Jesus' mother Mary, who is not mentioned by the other gospels.[citation needed]

The indication in John 19:25 could be interpreted as referring to two, three or four women. There are difficulties against taking it as presenting a double apposition, with "his mother" being Mary of Clopas, and "his mother's sister" being Mary Magdalene. If the women are three, then there is a single apposition, with Mary of Clopas presented as the sister of Jesus' mother (despite the awkwardness of having two sisters bearing the same name) or else, since Hebrew and Aramaic had no specific word for "cousin", presented as her cousin or her sister-in-law, with Clopas considered the brother of Joseph. If there is no apposition, the women are four, as understood by Tatian and the Peshitta.[1] If the last interpretation is chosen, the accounts that the four gospels give of individual women present at the crucifixion are:[2]: 69 

Person Matthew Mark Luke John
Mary, mother of Jesus Y
Mary Magdalene Y Y Y
Mary, mother of James and Joseph/Joses Y Y
The mother of the sons of Zebedee Y
Salome Y
A sister of Mary, mother of Jesus Y
Mary of Clopas Y

Mary Magdalene is mentioned by all gospels apart from Luke, who mentions no individual. Mary, mother of James and Joseph/Joses is mentioned by Matthew and Mark. The others are mentioned by one gospel only: Mary, the mother of Jesus; Mary, the mother of the sons of Zebedee; Salome; a sister of Mary, mother of Jesus; Mary of Clopas.

Attempts have been made to consider Mary of Clopas, the mother of Zebedee's sons James and John, and a half-sister or sister-in-law of Mary the mother of Jesus as different descriptions of the same person.[3]

See also


  1. ^ Raymond E. Brown, The Death of the Messiah (Chapman 1994 ISBN 0-225-66748-7), pp. 1014–15
  2. ^ Brown, Raymond E. (1978). Mary in the New Testament. New York City: Paulist Press. pp. 68–72. ISBN 9780809121687. Retrieved 24 January 2021.
  3. ^ Adam Clarke, The Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments, Volume 3 1837. p. 794: "That Cleophas, called also Alpheus, married a sister of the blessed virgin, called also Mary, by whom he had the above issue ; and that ... among whom were Mary Magdalen, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome was"