There is a natural curiosity about some of the people mentioned in the bible, there has been other writings about these characters, leaving us to wonder whether it is true, because the facts are so limited from way back in time. With this discussion about Mary Magdalene, we will only use the bible as the source document for information about who she might be and why she is mentioned.
In Matthew 13:55, 56 and Mark 6:3 there is the parents; Joseph and Mary, and they had 5 sons: Jesus, James, Joseph, Simon and Judas. As for daughters, it states, "aren't all his sisters with us,' without giving a number we have to guess, the word 'all' in Greek is 'pas'. Matthew uses the word 'both' in other places, which would be 'amphoteroi' to describe just 2 things. Most likely it is 3 or more, any probability of chance birth would be 50/50, so it is reasonable to assume there could be 5 daughters. Having, say, 10 children can be overwhelming for only 2 parents depending on the wages of Joseph as a carpenter.
The Book of Jude 1:1 identifies himself as "a brother of James" and in Galations 1:19 "the apostle James is the Lord's brother." In Matthew 27:56 it mentions "Mary the mother of James and Joses (Joseph)." When we get to the list of the apostles, in Matthew 10:2-4 there is Simon-Peter and his brother Andrew, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew the tax collector, then the Lord's brother called James son of Alphaeus; this is a nickname for Joseph. It is that way in Luke 6:13-16, there is Simon-Peter and his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon Zealot and Judas son (brother) of James, and Judas Iscariot. Mark 3:16-19 also differentiates James son of Zebedee and his brother John, and James son of Alphaeus. Again in Acts 1:13, 14 there is Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon Zealot and Judas son (brother) of James, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers (Joseph, Simon).
Sometimes in the bible, birth names change later, for example; like Abram to Abraham or Jacob to Israel, sometimes there is a reason for it. In Josephs case, using the New Testament Greek Lexicon for the New American Standard, the nickname Alphaeus means 'changing':
it claims a Hebrew origination source for the word Alphaeus as #2501, written as Cheleph, which means 'exchange' and is the foundational root word that others have branched off from:
the Greeks adapted Cheleph (exchange) to Alphaeus for the word they desired; 'changing', the contemporary Hebrew speakers in contact with Greeks chose to match the Greeks Alphaeus choice by adapting the ancient Hebrew word Cheleph to Cleopas and Clopas. Easton Bible Dictionary:
the Easton Bible Dictionary mentions that Cleopas is the Greek Hebrews spelling and Clopas is the Aramaic Hebrews form:
Word modifications take place in conversations, such as: Nicolas to Nick to Nicky, and because of the fluid, informal nature of speech, we have to look at the adjoining words in the context to keep clued in, because taking a rigid literal approach could mistake 1 person for 3.
From Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament:
on the left pull down the scroll lever on the margin side to get to page 29, and click, "Alphaeus" is on the lower right, it says "He seems to be the same person who in John 19:25 is called Clopas after a different pronunciation of the Hebrew" and going on to page 351, at the top left, under the word "Clopas" it states "apparently identical with Alphaeus...the father of the apostle James the less and husband to Mary..." I do not want to speculate how Joseph got the nickname, it is common to be called by another name, more so now a days in acting, music or writing.
Names Identify Relationship
John 19:25 "Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene." Now at the cross are 2 people identified by birth names and status names, rearranging the same words in the sentence to see it better, "Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother; Mary the wife of Clopas, and his mother's sister; Mary Magdalene." Jesus' mother's name is Mary and she is the wife of Clopas; the nickname for Joseph, this leaves us with his mother's sister being Mary Magdalene. It is unlikely that a mother has 2 daughters named Mary, so that would mean she would be her sister-in-law. Most of the discussion about this verse has been whether it was 3 or 4 women at the cross. Imagine a family having a dinner party and a woman friend comes to the door, and the wife says, "Hello, nice to see you, come in, I'd like you to meet my husband and son, Robert and Steven." In the flowing action of the moment, it is easily understood, but when detached and written, it is more difficult.
It seemed that Mary Magdalene was neither married, or had children, for in the descriptive writings, one Mary is either "mother" or "wife" and the other is a Magdalene. So, if mother Mary was consistently pregnant or nursing newborns, then most likely Mary Magdalene was babysitting, teaching and helping raise the 10 children. The time young Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem after the Passover Feast, Luke 2, their large family went in a caravan "with relatives and friends," probably included Mary Magdalene. When we read about Mary Magdalene, it is usually in the company of mother Mary, they're probably in the same age group. "Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joses (Joseph), followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb." Matthew 27:55, 56, 61 "After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb." Matthew 28:1 "Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses (Joseph). In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses (Joseph) saw where he was laid." Mark 15:40, 41, 47 "When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James....brought spices. When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons." Mark 16:1,9 "The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene)...These women were helping to support them out of their means." Luke 8:1-3 "When they came back from the tomb...Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James...told this to the apostles." Luke 24:9, 10 "Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb." John 20:1 "They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers." Acts 1:14
In Matthew 9:9, 10 "As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. 'Follow me,' he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collector's and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples." Mark 2:14, 15 tells the story this way, "As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector's booth. 'Follow me,' Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Levi's house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples." Luke 5:27-29 confirms that, "After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. 'Follow me,' Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him. Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd..." If Joseph is nicknamed Alphaeus, then that would mean that Matthew married one of Jesus' 5 sisters, making him a son-in-law. Since Jesus was about 30 years old at the start of his ministry, Luke 3:23, then his sisters would have been in their 20's. Some of the apostles were married, 1 Corinthians 9:5 "Don't we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord's brothers and Peter?" Both Mark and Luke call Matthew by a nickname (Levi) here, but Matthew appropriately uses his birth name.
After Jesus' resurrection, he appeared to some people so it would strengthen their belief, among doubters like Thomas, there was Cleopas and Simon. John 7:5 mentions that "even his own brothers did not believe in him," so since James and Jude were apostles that leaves Simon and Joseph Jr.. Joseph Sr. (now I sympathize with the nicknames) called Cleopas is not mentioned as much as Mary, so we are unsure of how firm his belief was. On the road to Emmaus, Luke 24:13-35 Jesus appears to Cleopas and Simon, who explain, "they crucified him, but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to (physically) redeem Israel," Jesus then "explained Moses, the Prophets and opened all the Scriptures concerning himself."
It is a possibility that Mary Magdalene is Jesus' Aunt, facts are hard to come by, just small pieces of information point to it, like at the cross, just as at a funeral, the family; mother Mary and Mary Magdalene are up front, and the friends; apostles are in the back. And Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist was a "relative" of Mary, Luke 1:36, meaning Jesus and John the Baptist were cousins. Your input would be appreciated, comments are welcome.