Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist (Andrea Solari, 1507)
Salome said to Jesus: “You have come up on my bed ...”
The fact that Mary of Magdala is actually the mother of Jesus is not proof that he was celibate!
You are quite right. Besides, some authors had already found a replacement for her ...
Who is it then?
A certain Salome who is mentioned in the Gospels and in some Apocrypha.
And what do we know about her?
What we said before: this Salome – sometimes called Mary Salome – is none other than the mother of the sons of Zebedee, that is to say the mother of James and John, two of the main apostles. But, above all, she should not be confused, as the same authors did, with Princess Salome, the daughter of Herodias, who was still only a child during the ministry of Jesus ...
And what documents do these authors use to support their hypothesis?
They use one or two apocryphal passages. The most quoted passage is found in the Gospel of Thomas. It is the one in which Salome says to Jesus:
You have come up on my couch [or bed] and eaten from my table.
Is there another one?
There is another text in which Salome is called: “Salome who tempted him”.
And what can we say about that?
First of all, the two passages referred to have nothing to do with each other. Salome owes her nickname “temptress” to a legendary anecdote related in a well-known Apocrypha: the Protoevangelium of James. She plays the role of the midwife who is the witness to the virginity of Mary. As she doubts her postpartum virginity, she commits a sacrilegious act: she puts out her hand in order to be sure. But the result of this impious gesture is not long in coming: immediately, her arm falls to the ground. Salome then repents and her hand immediately returns to its place, but the damage was done: as she herself recognizes, she had “tempted the living God”. This is how this unflattering epithet of “temptress” came about ...
Okay, this is clearly a legendary tale. But what about the passage from the Gospel of Thomas: “You have come up on my bed ...”? It is unequivocal, right?
Quite the contrary! Put in context, there is nothing scabrous about these words. In ancient times, the two phrases “come up on my bed” and “eaten from my table” were, if not synonymous, at least cognates.
Absolutely. The guests took their meals in a half-reclining position on sorts of single or multiple beds called triclinia (singular: triclinium) in Latin. Several biblical passages allude to this. Therefore, according to our apocryphal Gospel, just like Martha and Mary in the Gospel, Salome would simply have invited Jesus to her table. A way to honor him and, above all, to be as close as possible to him to make the most of His teaching: a situation that recalls the last meal of Jesus as reported by John, an evangelical scene which seems to have inspired the author of our text ...