In John 2, Jesus performs his first miracle, where he turns water into wine at a wedding near Galilee.
The theological challenge for anyone towing the party line is that Jesus’ mother seems to facilitate Jesus’s first miracle. This is curious considering Jesus was the son of God, and more explicitly, the “Word [of God] as flesh”.
And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus said to him, They have no wine.
Jesus said to her, Woman, what have I to do with you? my hour is not yet come.
His mother said to the servants, Whatever he says to you, do it.
Jesus reveals a subservience, along with his inability to do anything, when he says “my hour is not yet come”. In response, Jesus’s mother transfers her authority to Jesus so that he can render the non-existent wine, thus making this moment Jesus’s “hour”.
Why should Jesus’s mother do this?
If you are anything like me, and believe that not a single word of these Gospels was wasted on frivolous prose, the implication is that Mary *must* transfer her authority to Jesus to catalyze his powers on Earth. In other words, Jesus would have no authority to perform miracles unless his mother granted this authority. The fact that this interaction precedes Jesus’s first miracle is not inconsequential.
John’s catalyst for miracle-making Jesus is in contrast to Mark’s prerequisite, which was Jesus’s baptism prior to receiving the Spirit. Of course, the theology of this Johannine text was different than the Cerinthian/Ebionite theology which contributed to the Synoptic narrative; specific implementation differences should be expected.
An interesting aside is that Irenaeus, who also used John’s Gospel, gave a hostile response to Marcus the magician, who performed a similar trick as Jesus:
Pretending to consecrate cups mixed with wine, and protracting to great length the word of invocation, [Marcus the Magician] contrives to give them a purple and reddish colour…
The transfer of authority from the mother to the son is also detectable in Revelation, in a more abstract form.
Revelation 5:12 says “Worthy is the lamb that hath been slain to receive the power, and riches, and wisdom…”
In Revelation 12, the pregnant woman, clothed in the sun, with stars in her crown and the moon at her feet, gives birth after triggering a war in heaven; her antagonist, the dragon, gives chase and attempts to eat the child. The child is saved by God when he is snatched up to heaven.
Once the dragon sensed he would neither be able to capture the woman nor her newborn son, he turned his attention toward her other children, who were the keepers or preservers of the law. In Hebrew, the term for keep, preserve, or guard is Nasar.
If one assumes this Greek tradition found in John’s Gospel was a carryover from an earlier Hebrew one, then this passage exposes an important detail: the woman’s other children were the Nasaraeans. Among other things, the Nasaraeans rejected the Pentateuch, claimed it was a forgery, believed they had the true word of Moses, and lived in secret among the Jews.
John 19:19 taps into this tradition, when Pilate wrote on Jesus Christ’s cross: JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.
If one is attached to the notion that Nazareth was called as such in the 1st century, this interpretation, that Nazareth was so-called because of the Nasaraeans, is faulty. However, I am very skeptical Nazareth was called as such at this time; rather, I believe Nazareth was so-named because it was later identified as the location where the Nasaraeans saw their brother, the newborn child of the Queen of Heaven, return.
In John 19:27, Jesus said to his mother that she was now mother to “the disciple”, presumably John. Likewise, he told John that his mother was now John’s mother. From that hour on, John took Jesus’ mother into his home. Jesus then drank vinegar, said “it is finished”, and “gave up the ghost”.
In this context, we see the underpinning of this Johannine system: Jesus’s first miracle was preceded by his mother giving him authority. Jesus’s last act was to turn over his mother to his disciple, and to make his disciple the adopted son of his mother. This passage is not by coincidence and it is not pedestrian. This is a critical element of the Johannine system.
The underlying theology saw Jesus’s mother as important, despite the fact that the Gospel goes out of its way *not* to name her. One speculation is that John had no need to name Jesus’s mother, because it was so well-known. But does that mean her name was Mary?
There are other Marys in John’s Gospel, including Mary Magdelaine and Mary, the wife of Cleophas (the extant Gospel says Cleophas’ wife was Jesus’ mother’s sister, but I suspect this was an interpolation).
More likely, Jesus’s mother was known to its readers because his mother was Wisdom, the Queen of Heaven. Later texts which rely on John expose this detail, as well. For instance, an early Christian text called The Teaching of Silvanus:
My son, return to your divine nature… Return, my son, to your first Father God, and to Wisdom your mother, from whom you came into being.
Jesus’ mother, who was the Queen Wisdom, is found in many places, including 1 Enoch 42.3, which describes her fate after being purged from Solomon’s temple after King Josiah’s Deuteronomic reform in the 7th century BCE:
Wisdom went forth to make her dwelling among the children of men, And found no dwelling-place:
Wisdom returned to her place, And took her seat among the angels.
And unrighteousness went forth from her chambers: Whom she sought not she found, And dwelt with them
In other words, true Wisdom was replaced by another woman on Earth, and Wisdom subsequently returned to heaven. In Revelation 19:2, we see this replacement woman’s fate:
He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries.
The woman had shown up earlier in Revelation 17:
One of the seven angels…said to me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery, and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.”
Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls.
This reference to purple, scarlet, gold, and stones seems a likely reference to the 2nd temple. Consider Josephus’ description in Wars:
As to the holy house itself, which was placed in the midst [of the inmost court], that most sacred part of the temple…the inner part was lower than the appearance of the outer, and had golden doors…a Babylonian curtain, embroidered with blue, and fine linen, and scarlet, and purple, and of a contexture that was truly wonderful…There was also a wall of partition, about a cubit in height, made of fine stones, and so as to be grateful to the sight…on the other part there hung twelve stones, three in a row one way, and four in the other; a sardius, a topaz, and an emerald; a carbuncle, a jasper, and a sapphire; an agate, an amethyst, and a ligure; an onyx, a beryl, and a chrysolite
The conclusion this matrix brings me to is that the Johannines, and perhaps their earlier Nasaraeane counterparts, saw the 2nd temple as an illegitimate replacement of Solomon’s temple, and this replacement woman was a metaphor for it.