Great stuff from Jon Richardson on this old chestnut – the revisionist claim that “Mary was an Apostle”:
One version of argument being put forward may be framed as follows:
- It is a necessary condition of being an Apostle to be a witness of the resurrection (Acts 1:21-22) and to be sent by Jesus to give witness to that.
- Mary Magdalene was a witness of the resurrection and was sent give witness of it by Jesus (John 20:17)
- Therefore Mary Magdalene is an Apostle.
This, however, does not quite work, as can be demonstrated by the following example:
- It is a necessary condition of being a bishop to be the right age and to have served the requisite number of years as a priest.
- I am the right age and have served enough years as a priest.
- Therefore I am a bishop.
The point is that necessary conditions are not the same as sufficient conditions. The argument for Mary Magdalene’s apostleship only works if we say that the conditions put forward by Bishop Matthews are both necessary and sufficient.
All this means that it is receiving Christ’s personal commission (though this may be done collectively, not just individually) which is finally and sufficiently determinative of ‘Apostleship’, even though witnessing his resurrection is a necessary condition.
And Jon goes on to explain quite how convoluted the whole revisionist argument becomes. Well worth the read.