"She Hath Wrought a Good Work":
The Anointing of Jesus in Mark's Gospel

Without saying a word, a woman—unnamed and
unbidden—enters a private home and anoints Jesus’s head. Some complain
that the oil cost a year’s wages and suggest that the money may have been
better spent on the poor. Jesus says to leave the woman alone because she has
done a good work and that "this [act] . . . shall be spoken of for a memorial
of her" (Mark 14:9).

When we call Jesus the Christ, we are using the Greek word
meaning "anointed" (Greek christos). When we call him the Messiah,
we are doing the same with the Hebrew word for "anointed" (Hebrew meshiakh).
The anointing story can teach us what it means when we say that Jesus is the
Christ or the Messiah. This paper considers that story, its immediate and
larger contexts, and its Joseph Smith Translation in order to explore what the
anointing teaches us about the Anointed One.

An indicator of its importance is that the story of Jesus’s
anointing is one of only very few incidents from Jesus’s life to be included in
all four Gospels (Matthew 26:6–13; Mark 14:3–9; Luke 7:36–50;
and John 12:1–8). While these four anointing stories have an intriguing
combination of shared themes and differing details that invite further
reflection (e.g., Was there one anointing, or more than one? Which Gospel
preserves the most historically accurate account?), this paper will consider
only the anointing story found in the Gospel of Mark in order to focus on Mark’s
unique perspective on the event. Each writer presents the story in a slightly
different light in order to emphasize different facets of the event; focusing
just on Mark’s account will permit us to see how this story explains what it
means to be the Anointed One.

The Anointing

Anointing was performed in the
ancient world for a variety of reasons, from the sacred to the mundane. In Mark’s
story, Jesus’s anointing has several distinct purposes. We know it is a burial
anointing because Jesus says that the woman has "anoint[ed] [his] body to
the burying" (Mark 14:8). So one function of this anointing is as a
typical burial ritual—premature, but prophetic. This woman
recognizes—at a time when the disciples still have a hard time accepting
the idea (see Mark 8:31–32)—that Jesus must die.

But the anointing also fits the
pattern for a royal anointing, which is the coronation of a king. The story is
in a context of profuse royal imagery that begins with Jesus’s entry into
Jerusalem. Zechariah prophesied of the triumphal entry (see Zechariah 9:9),
which we find recounted in Mark 11, and later associated the Mount of Olives
with the coming of the Lord (see Zechariah 14:4). The royal imagery reaches its
ironic climax in the mockery during Jesus’s trial and crucifixion (see Mark
14:61; 15:2, 9, 12, 17–20, 26, 32), where the ignorant unwittingly
proclaim Jesus’s royal nature through their taunts.

A major textual parallel to the anointing at Bethany, the
anointing of Saul by Samuel, is also a kingly anointing. The account in
1 Samuel 10:1 reads: "Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it
upon [Saul’s] head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the Lord hath
anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?" Most modern
translations add the following to this verse, based on the manuscript evidence:
"And you shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them
from the hand of their enemies round about. And this shall be the sign to you
that the Lord has anointed you to be prince over his heritage" (1 Samuel
10:1 RSV).1 The sign is a very specific prophecy that is immediately fulfilled (see 1 Samuel
10:2–9). After the anointing at Bethany, Jesus commands the disciples to
make arrangements for the Passover, and they find everything to be as he said
it would. In both Saul’s and Jesus’s anointings, the quickly filled prophecy
authenticates the anointing, and the similarities between the two accounts suggest
that both are royal anointings.

The anointing at Bethany does violate some expectations
since royal anointings were normally performed by a prophet. But when Jesus
says that the woman "is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying"
(Mark 14:8), he implies that she is acting prophetically since she knows of his
impending death. The fact that Jesus’s head is anointed also supports the idea
that this is the anointing of a king; as Ben Witherington notes, "royal
figures are anointed from the head down." 2 So there is ample evidence that this anointing fits the pattern for the coronation
of a king.

Additionally, the anointing also echoes the priestly
anointing as described in the book of Leviticus (see Leviticus 8:12).3 Again, some expectations are violated: according to the law of Moses, priests
are to be anointed in the tabernacle or temple; however, the Bethany anointing
occurs in a leper’s house. But J. Duncan M. Derrett argues persuasively
that Mark has structured the Gospel in such a way as to suggest that the temple
has become a leper’s house and the leper’s house has become a temple.4 The procedure outlined in Leviticus for cleansing a leprous house consists of
four steps, and each step finds a thematic parallel in Mark’s gospel. Leviticus
prescribes, first, a cleansing of the leprous home (Leviticus 14:39–42),
which is echoed by Jesus’s cleansing of the temple (Mark 11:15–19). Next,
the priest will return to inspect the house (Leviticus 14:44); Jesus inspects
the temple through his discussions with religious authorities that showcase the
corruption of the temple system (Mark 11:27–12:40). The final evidence of
corruption comes when the widow donates her mites: as a widow, she has claim
upon the religious leadership for her maintenance, but instead she is
supporting them in their decadence (Mark 12:41–44). This inversion of
responsibility becomes the consummate evidence of corruption and leads to the
end of Jesus’s discussion with the authorities—that is, the end of his
examination of corruption—and his prophecy of the temple’s coming
destruction. If the house is still leprous, the priest "shall break down
the house, the stones of it, . . . and he shall carry them forth out of the
city into an unclean place" (Leviticus 14:45). This is echoed in Jesus’s
pronouncement that "there shall not be left one stone upon another, that
shall not be thrown down" (Mark 13:2). It is very difficult to understand
that statement in any context other than a comparison to a leprous house: while
the temple was destroyed, some stones were left one stone upon another, so we
cannot take the statement as simply literal.

If Derrett’s analysis is correct,
the implications are profound. Mark has condemned the temple as hopelessly
leprous and therefore incapable of fulfilling its functions. At the same
time, it is in the actual house of a real leper that the anointing occurs. Mark
has made the temple into a leper’s house and the leper’s house into a temple.
The anointing of one’s head in a temple connotes that this is, at least on a
symbolic level, a priestly anointing.

Although it might seem that we must select one
meaning—a burial or a royal or a priestly purpose—for the
anointing, not only can we find all, but we must. We must keep them simultaneously
in mind in order to understand Mark’s portrait of Jesus. Jesus is not
one-dimensional: in his life and mission, he weaves together all the strands of
prophetic teachings about the coming Messiah. Austin Farrer wrote: "It is
no diminution of its royal significance when Jesus declares the anointing to be
for his burial, for it is precisely the paradox of Christ’s royalty that he is
enthroned through being entombed." 5 When we call Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, or the Anointed One, we should, as
this story teaches us, keep in mind that that is not a simple designation but
rather a many-layered declaration of Jesus’s salvific death, his royal status,
and his priestly power because it is only through the combination of those
elements that he was able to atone for sins.

The Immediate Context

we will consider the details of the anointing story. We are told that the
dinner is held in the house of Simon the leper, which would have been quite
puzzling to Mark’s ancient audiences. So many questions arise from this simple
phrase: Was Simon present? Was he healed, or was he still a leper? Was he even
still alive?

Some scholars suggest that his
leprosy must have been cured since the law of Moses mandated the exclusion of
lepers from society. This would have been particularly important since Jesus
was on his way to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, which required him to be
ritually clean (see Numbers 9:6–12). But it is also possible that Simon
has not, in fact, been healed; much as Jesus allowed an unclean woman to touch
him in Mark 5:27, he might have intentionally dined with a leper. But this,
too, is speculation, so let us consider what the phrase in the house
of Simon the leper
contributes to the story regardless of Simon’s
actual condition.

Perhaps the point is to
compare Simon the leper and Simon Peter. As the head of the disciples, Peter
should be providing hospitality and comfort to Jesus but instead is nowhere to
be found in this story, unless we assume that he is included in the "some"
who object. Maybe the reference to the leper prepares the hearer for something
unusual to follow, as indeed the anointing is. The preservation of Simon’s
name—which is not as important to the story as the woman’s
name—might be ironic. Simon is remembered by his disease (which apparently
is not very important since we do not hear anything definitive about it), while
the woman is left nameless despite her immortalizing act. The reference to the
leper also contributes to the theme of death and burial that Mark develops
throughout the anointing story. According to tradition, lepers were equivalent
to the dead,6 so Jesus’s statement about his burial garners new meaning if we understand it
to have taken place in the realm of the dead. Perhaps Mark is intentionally
toying with the audience’s inability to determine whether Simon is recovered in
order to emphasize the life-and-death themes of the anointing: the infected
leper casts the pall of death while the likely conclusion that the leper is
healed suggests a return from the dead.

We now turn our attention to the theme of poverty. The poor
were likely on the minds of all present that night because they were given
special gifts at Passover.7 Since the cost of the woman’s anointing oil was about a year’s wages for a
common laborer (see Matthew 20:2), her act does seem outrageously extravagant,
and we are not surprised when some of the dinner guests ask, "Why was this
waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three
hundred pence, and have been given to the poor" (Mark 14:4–5). The "some"
who object to the anointing are among the most sympathetic of all Jesus’s
opponents; after all, they merely recommend following Jesus’s own suggestion to
the wealthy young man that he "sell whatsoever [he] hast, and give to the
poor" (Mark 10:21). Yet in this story, Jesus sharply disagrees with them
when he replies, "Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a
good work on me. For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will
ye may do them good: but me ye have not always" (Mark 14:6–7).

Unfortunately, Jesus’s statement
has been used by some people to justify their neglect of the poor. But the real
division is not between "Jesus" and "the poor" but between "not
always" and "always": Jesus’s words suggest that there will be
other occasions when the poor can be helped, but this will be the last chance
to anoint him. Perhaps Ecclesiastes 7:1 lurks behind his statement: "A
good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day
of one’s birth." This verse is particularly appropriate since the
anointing has the function of naming Jesus—of explaining what it means
when we call him "the Christ." Also, as Jesus’s words indicate, the
woman is credited for having actually done her good deed, while her objectors
are merely talking about the possibility of giving to the poor.

We might also think of the "poor"
and the "waste" as metaphorical. The woman has committed an
incredible act of devotion, represented by the fact that her gift cost an
entire year’s wages. Those who complain that the cost is too great represent
those who are willing to sacrifice only up to a point. They see her gift as
excessive and wonder if one can be a true follower but give a little less.
Jesus answers negatively; her gift is appropriate and necessary, no more
extravagant than the death and kingship that it acknowledges. Because of the
way the statement is phrased, the anointing oil, at "more than three hundred pence" (Mark 14:5, emphasis added), has immeasurable,
limitless value. The same could be said of Jesus’s death.

Although the objectors seem to be
advocating an ethical cause, what they are actually doing is focusing on the
economic aspect of the anointing instead of its spiritual implications. This
fits a pattern in Mark’s gospel where people focus on the wrong thing. For
example, when Jesus proposes that they feed the multitude, the disciples wonder
if they should spend two hundred pennyworth on bread (Mark 6:37). Instead of
seeing the metaphorical meaning of the "leaven of the Pharisees, and of
the leaven of Herod" (Mark 8:15), they contemplate their own lack of bread
(Mark 8:16). There are three references in Mark to the monetary unit denarii (which the KJV renders as "pence" in Mark 14:5): the anointing, the
feeding miracle discussed above, and the controversy over paying taxes to
Caesar (Mark 12:13–17). In all three cases, money is the concern of those
who do not understand Jesus. It may not matter whether the objectors to the
anointing are charitable or greedy; the real issue is that their concern with
money blinds them to spiritual realities.

Jesus’s statement about the poor
has a very close parallel in Deuteronomy 15:11: "For the poor shall never
cease out of the land." But note what follows that statement: "Therefore
I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to
thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land." The context of this verse is the
practice of the sabbath year, or seventh-year release, which is designed to alleviate
economic inequality in Israel (see Deuteronomy 15:4). This text focuses on one’s
motivation for lending money—which should not be to gain wealth by
accumulating interest but rather to assist someone in need—in light of
the knowledge that the sabbath year is impending. The text suggests that one
who refuses to lend money because of the coming release of debts is sinful
(Deuteronomy 15:9–10). By alluding to this text, Jesus is teaching that
the woman, although aware that his death is near and that she will not have her
kindness repaid, has still chosen to give to him freely. The motive of the
objectors is comparable to those who do not lend money for fear of the
impending year of release. Of course, in a reversal typical of Mark’s gospel,
the woman is compensated by Jesus’s praise.

now turn our attention to the anointing woman herself. All we know about her is
that she is female and that she anointed Jesus; we do not know to whom she is
related, where she is from, her marital status, or even whether she is a Jew or
a Gentile. It is possible that Mark leaves out her name in order to spare her
dishonor. But Mark is not particularly concerned with this type of social norm,
so it is perhaps ironic that he omits her name (which is usually done to
protect a woman’s modesty) in a situation where she is boldly acting and where
Jesus proclaims that the entire world will know of her.

Adele Reinhartz’s discussion of
the use of anonymity in the books of Samuel8 is insightful here, especially given the links we have seen between 1 Samuel 10
and the anointing. Reinhartz notes that a proper name has two functions: as a
unifier to which one can attach all the information known about a person and as
a tool for distinguishing that person from others. This suggests that the woman
is not strongly differentiated from other characters and emphasizes the
parallels between various texts in Mark. This is in line with the function of
characterization in ancient novels: the woman is more a type of the ideal
follower than she is a distinct character.

Reinhartz discusses the three
nameless women in Samuel (1 Samuel 28:7–25; 2 Samuel
14:1–24; and 2 Samuel 20:14–22). They have many parallels to the
anointing woman. Significantly, communication is the key function for all the
women; the anointing woman communicates Jesus’s identity to the audience.
Furthermore, the passages in Samuel emphasize the women’s professional
functions; her namelessness enhances the anointer’s prophetic functions by not
distracting the audience with other information about her that is less
relevant. Finally, the women are crucial to the advancement of the plot.

Likely, the lack of a name makes the woman paradigmatic of a
woman completely devoted to Christ and exercising the gift of understanding. As
Mary Ann Beavis notes, "Jesus’s comment on the woman’s prophetic anointing
is his lengthiest and most positive pronouncement on the words or deeds of any
person preserved by the evangelist Mark." 9 Her anonymity may be a necessary counterpart to her high praise.

The Larger Context

The anointing stands out from the
rest of Mark’s gospel in two significant ways, giving hints as to its
importance. First, many scholars have noted that the frequent use of the word immediately (Greek euthys)
tends to give the text a hurried quality; over forty occurrences in just
sixteen chapters can definitely leave the audience feeling as if they have been
on a whirlwind tour.10 In the
midst of this rushing narrative are only two concrete time references; they
come immediately before (Mark 14:1) and immediately after (Mark 14:12) the
references to the betrayal of Jesus and therefore bracket the story of the
anointing. So the anointing and betrayal are the only precisely timed acts in
the Gospel and therefore form a break in the rushing narrative, used much as
slow motion might be used to emphasize a particularly important scene in a

The anointing story is also the
narrative bridge between Jesus’s life and death; we might consider it either
the last story relating events from his life or the first part of the story of
his death. In either case, it is the hinge between the accounts of his life and
his death. Its location in the text mirrors its theological function since, as
we have seen, the anointing story explores the link between Jesus’s life and

We now consider the anointing in relation to several other
events in Mark’s gospel. First, comparing the anointing with the story of the
widow’s mite presents many intriguing points:11 both reference the poor twice (Mark 12:42, 43 and 14:5, 7), and both mention
wealth (Mark 12:41 and 14:3). Jesus proclaims that each woman has given all
that she has (Mark 12:44 and 14:8), and there is a solemn "verily I say
unto you" statement in each (Mark 12:43 and 14:9). Note the huge disparity
in the value of the anointing oil and the widow’s mites: a mite (Greek lepton)
was the smallest coin in circulation, but three hundred pence (Greek denarius)
would have been about a year’s wages for a laborer (see Matthew 20:2). While
scholars differ in assigning precise conversion values to ancient currency, the
value of the anointing oil is between 10,000 and 20,000 times that of the widow’s
mites. This shows that the actual worth of the gift is not crucial; what really
matters is giving all that one has. The widow’s gift of all her living
parallels Jesus’s gift of his life, and the anointing woman’s gift defines what
it means for Jesus to give his life. However, the widow’s act is in accord with
the traditions of her society while the anointer violates these norms. We might
conclude that the point is not to violate social norms for the sake of
violating them—or to follow them for the sake of conforming—but
rather to make an appropriate response to Jesus regardless of the expected
practices of society. Perhaps the most important parallel between the two women’s
stories is the irony that the widow’s gift is to a doomed temple and the
anointer’s gift is for a doomed Jesus.

widow’s story and the anointing form a frame around chapter 13:

      A evil scribes denounced (Mark

            B the widow’s
mite (Mark 12:41–44)

                 C Jesus’s
teachings (Mark 13:1–37)

            B’ the
anointing (Mark 14:1–9)

the plot to kill (Mark 14:10–11)

chapter 13 focuses on the task of true followers in the difficult last
days, this textual arrangement shows two positive examples of following
Jesus—the widow and the anointer—juxtaposed against the negative
examples of the corrupt scribes and the death plotters. The stark evil of the
men and the vivid goodness of the women are emphasized through their contrast.
And much as the particular crime of "devour[ing] widows’ houses"
(Mark 12:40) is mentioned at the time of the widow’s offering, the plot to kill
Jesus (Mark 14:10–11) emphasizes the death motifs of the anointing.

The next story with important
implications for understanding the anointing is Judas’s betrayal of Jesus.
Framing the anointing by the treacherous murder plans emphasizes the goodness
of the woman’s deed. The terseness of Mark 14:1–2 and 10–11
contrasts sharply with the details of the anointing and, while the anointing is
primarily concerned with actions instead of words, the murder plot is merely
talk at this point. The furtiveness of the plotters is weighed against the openness
of the woman’s actions. Jesus’s prophecy that the woman’s act will be
remembered throughout the whole world sharply conflicts with the desire that
the plan to kill Jesus be kept from the people (Mark 14:1). Finding out about
the anointing is a part of the "good news"; finding out about the
death plot would cause a tumult (Mark 14:2).

There is an odd multiple naming
of Judas in Mark 14:10, where he is "Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve."
(The Greek reads "the one of the twelve," with the first the being just as awkward in Greek as it would be in English.) Unlike the woman, he
is amply named. Additionally, there is a double naming in the first part of the
plot, where the festival is given two names: "the feast of the passover,
and of unleavened bread" (Mark 14:1). The double holiness of the festival
contrasts with the double duplicity of Judas. Because he has already been
identified as one of the twelve in Mark 3:19, this repetition does not provide
the audience with any new information but rather emphasizes his nefarious
nature. Judas functions as a foil for the nameless, laudable woman. In the only
two instances in the Gospel where money is spent on Jesus, the woman sacrifices
for him while Judas profits from his betrayal.

we assume that Judas is one of the "some" who witnesses the
anointing, then we find another contrast between the woman and Judas: she has
entered the house to show her devotion to Jesus, but Judas leaves the house to
commit his awful task. It may have been the very act of the anointing—with
its messianic connotations and flouting of social norms—that pushed Judas
to betray Jesus.

On the other hand, it may be that
Judas is not with Jesus in the house of Simon the leper; perhaps the anointing
and the plot to kill Jesus should be read as occurring simultaneously, similar
to the way that Peter’s betrayal occurs at the same time as Jesus’s trial (Mark
14:53–72). It might be instructive to compare the trial and the
anointing, including their frame stories. In both, Jesus is inside and the
issue of his identity is raised, either by the woman who anoints him and
therefore proclaims his identity or by the high priest who questions Jesus’s
identity (v. 61). In the anointing, silent deeds proclaim the truth; while in
the council, spoken lies conflict (v. 56). In both cases, a disciple stays
outside to betray Jesus by his words in a scene that sandwiches the confession
of Jesus’s true identity. Interestingly, in this reading there is a parallel
drawn between the woman and Jesus.

Our third text to compare with
the anointing is the last supper. When preparing for the Passover meal, Jesus
tells the disciples to look for "a man bearing a pitcher of water"
(Mark 14:13). This would have struck Mark’s audience as unusual since carrying
water was considered women’s work (see, for example, Genesis 24:13). This
unexpected situation calls attention to one aspect of the anointing that
immediately preceded it: both the anointing woman and the water-carrying man
are violating cultural gender roles and also performing an important service
for Jesus.

There are also verbal
similarities between the two scenes. The woman pours out (Greek katacheo)
the contents of her broken flask (v. 3), much as Jesus pours out (KJV "shed";
Greek ekcheo)
his blood from his broken body (v. 24). Jesus explains that the woman has
anointed his body for burial (Mark 14:8) and then shares his body with the
disciples (v. 22); both incidents are made possible by completely pouring out
the valuable liquids blood and nard. The phrase my body appears in
Mark only in these two contexts (vv. 8 and 22), emphasizing the physicality of
Jesus’s work and foreshadowing his impending death. Also, both incidents
include a "verily" saying (vv. 9, 25), the former concerning the
future of the gospel and the latter concerning Jesus’s own future. In the
anointing, the woman’s act is prophetic; in the last supper, Jesus’s act is
prophetic. Death looms over both stories as Jesus’s identity is physically
established through breaking and pouring for those perceptive enough to understand.
Surprisingly, Mark’s version of the last supper does not include a command from
Jesus to institute a similar meal as a memorial, such as is found in Luke’s
gospel (Luke 22:19) and the ensuing Christian tradition. In Mark, the only
memorial that Jesus mentions is the anointing: his followers are to remember
the woman’s deed. In fact, the same Greek word for memorial is used in
the Septuagint of Exodus 12:14 and 13:9 for the institution of the Passover as
is used for the memorial of the anointing.

The Joseph Smith Translation

The Joseph Smith Translation for
Mark 14:8 is, upon first reading, rather puzzling. Unlike most JST
revisions or expansions, this one does not correct false doctrine, add
information, harmonize the text with other passages, or clarify the text. In
fact, it just seems to repeat words that are already in the passage. But what
it achieves is the creation of a chiasmus that is not in the KJV text:

      A she has done what she could .
. . had in remembrance

in generations to come

                 C wheresoever my
gospel shall be preached

for verily she has come beforehand

to anoint my body to the burying

verily I say unto you

                 C’ wheresoever
this gospel shall be preached

through out the whole world

      A’ what she hath
done . . . for a memorial of her

This structure adds depth to
the anointing story by first clarifying that the main point of the story, the E
line, is the anointing, not the objection and response. It is easy to get
sidetracked into a debate regarding whether the woman exercised wise
stewardship over some very expensive oil, but the real point of the story is
the anointing of Jesus’s body. Second, note the phrase verily I say
unto you
in the D and D’ lines. This saying, used to emphasize not
only the importance of the words that follow but also the central point of the
chiasmus by literally surrounding it, also encourages us to compare Jesus’s
words with the woman’s actions. The theological implications of comparing her
actions and his words are profound. Third, the B and B’ lines are also
noteworthy in that they explain that "wheresoever my gospel is preached"
means not just geographically but also through time. While we often think of
chiasmus as part of the apologetics toolkit—and it certainly can
be—it can also yield rich literary insights; in this case, it ensures
that we don’t miss the key ideas that this story is about the
anointing—not the objection—and that the woman’s deeds parallel
Jesus’s words. The mere fact that a JST version exists also tells us that this
story was a focus of attention for Joseph Smith.


Christology, the study of the
nature of Jesus and his identity, has traditionally involved examination of the
titles applied to Jesus, such as Son of God, Son of David, and the like. But in
Mark’s gospel, titles applied to Jesus are often untrustworthy. For example,
Peter states, "thou art the Christ" (Mark 8:29), but then he rebukes
Jesus (v. 32), and Jesus’s response makes the characterization of Peter
clear: "Get thee behind me, Satan" (v. 33). Peter might have used the
right words to describe Jesus, but at that point he does not understand who
Jesus is, or he would not have rebuked him. In Mark’s gospel, the devils also
have the ability to use the correct titles to identify Jesus (see Mark 1:34),
but that does not mean that they are to be emulated! The perverse proliferation
of abused and abusive titles during Jesus’s trial also shows the unreliability
of titles and names in Mark (14:61; 15:2, 9, 12, 18, 26, 32, and possibly 39).

Even though the anointing story
does not mention any titles for Jesus, we need not dismiss it as a source for
Mark’s Christology. Jesus is named not with a title, but through the silent
action of a faithful follower. This type of naming is most appropriate to the
Gospel of Mark where more traditional methods of naming fail. And the layered
truth that Jesus must be simultaneously understood as a dying and a royal and a
priestly Messiah simply cannot be expressed in one small word.

What of Jesus’s statement that
the woman’s story will be told wherever the gospel is preached? The gospel
cannot be preached if the multifaceted nature of Jesus’s life—his
humility, his priesthood, his royal lineage—is not conveyed, whether
through this story or another. If the listener does not understand that only
through complete devotion does one really follow Jesus—that only complete
devotion gives one the knowledge to truly understand who Jesus is—then
the teacher has not truly preached the gospel.

Julie M. Smith has a graduate
degree in biblical studies from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley,
California. She lives near Austin, Texas, where she homeschools her children.

1.   The additional material is
found in the Septuagint but is missing from the Masoretic Text. Because the
phrase hath
anointed thee
occurs twice in the verse, it is probably an instance
where a scribe’s eye skipped from the first instance of the phrase to the
second and accidentally omitted the intervening material. See Ralph W. Klein, 1 Samuel,
2nd ed. (Nashville: Nelson, 2008), 83.

2.   Ben Witherington III, The Gospel of
Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001),

3.   See Eric D. Huntsman, God So Loved
the World: The Final Days of the Savior’s Life
(Salt Lake City:
Desert Book, 2011), 44–45.

4.   J. Duncan M. Derrett, "No
Stone upon Another: Leprosy and the Temple," Journal for the Study of the New
30 (1987): 3–20.

5.   Austin Farrer, A Study in St.
(Westminster: Dacre, 1951), 129–30.

6.   See Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 3.11.3.

7.   See William L. Lane, The Gospel
According to Mark
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974), 493.

8.   Adele Reinhartz, "Anonymity
and Character in the Books of Samuel," Semeia 63 (1993): 117–41.

9.   Mary Ann Beavis, "Women
as Models of Faith in Mark," Biblical Theology Bulletin 18/1
(1988): 7.

10.   See Mitchell G. Reddish, An
Introduction to the Gospels
(Nashville: Abingdon, 2011), 77.

11.   See Joseph A. Grassi, "The
Secret Heroine of Mark’s Drama," Biblical Theology Bulletin 18/1
(1988): 10–15.