Luke 7:37

A woman which was in the city, a sinner (gunh hti en th polei amartwlo). Probably in Capernaum. The use of hti means "Who was of such a character as to be" (cf. Luke 8:3 ) and so more than merely the relative h, who, that is, "who was a sinner in the city," a woman of the town, in other words, and known to be such. Hamartwlo, from amartanw, to sin, means devoted to sin and uses the same form for feminine and masculine. It is false and unjust to Mary Magdalene, introduced as a new character in Luke 8:2 , to identify this woman with her. Luke would have no motive in concealing her name here and the life of a courtesan would be incompatible with the sevenfold possession of demons. Still worse is it to identify this courtesan not only with Mary Magdalene, but also with Mary of Bethany simply because it is a Simon who gives there a feast to Jesus when Mary of Bethany does a beautiful deed somewhat like this one here ( Mark 14:3-9 ; Matthew 26:6-13 ; John 12:2-8 ). Certainly Luke knew full well the real character of Mary of Bethany ( John 10:38-42 ) so beautifully pictured by him. But a falsehood, once started, seems to have more lives than the cat's proverbial nine. The very name Magdalene has come to mean a repentant courtesan. But we can at least refuse to countenance such a slander on Mary Magdalene and on Mary of Bethany. This sinful woman had undoubtedly repented and changed her life and wished to show her gratitude to Jesus who had rescued her. Her bad reputation as a harlot clung to her and made her an unwelcome visitor in the Pharisee's house. When she knew (epignousa). Second aorist active participle from epiginwskw, to know fully, to recognize. She came in by a curious custom of the time that allowed strangers to enter a house uninvited at a feast, especially beggars seeking a gift. This woman was an intruder whereas Mary of Bethany was an invited guest. "Many came in and took their places on the side seats, uninvited and yet unchallenged. They spoke to those at table on business or the news of the day, and our host spoke freely to them" (Trench in his Parables, describing a dinner at a Consul's house at Damietta). He was sitting at meat (katakeitai). Literally, he is reclining (present tense retained in indirect discourse in Greek). An alabaster cruse of ointment (alabastron murou). See on "Mt 26:7" for discussion of alabastron and murou.