The Woman who anoints Jesus (Mk 14.3-9): A Prophetic Sign of the New Creation

Susan Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The woman who anoints Jesus is unique within Mark’s Gospel, since her action is to be remembered wherever the Gospel is proclaimed. She is portrayed as a prophetic figure because her act of anointing points to Jesus’ kingship, which is revealed at the time of his death. Her critics condemn her gift as wasteful, arguing that the perfume should have been sold and the money given to the poor. The Greek term apōaleia, however, may be translated as ‘waste’ or ‘loss’. In the literary context of Mark’s Gospel the ‘waste’ of the perfume corresponds to the ‘loss’ of Jesus’ life, since it recalls the teaching of Jesus on discipleship in which the use of the cognate verb apollumi (lose) is used to show that only those willing to lose life will save life (8:35). The woman’s action of breaking the jar and pouring out the perfume foreshadows the Last Supper in which Jesus identifies the bread with his body, and refers to the cup of wine as his blood which is poured out for many. Her prophetic action aligns her with Jesus’ suffering and death, and her extravagance affirms the preciousness of life in the midst of death. The woman’s gift encapsulates the message of the Gospel because it foreshadows the new creation that comes about through Jesus’ death.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-236
JournalFeminist Theology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006


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