• Elaine Kelly

How many Women are in the Gospels?

Updated: 6 days ago

When I mention I am writing a novel about women at the time of Jesus, most people can name two: Mary the mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene. In many minds, these two both represent unrealistic people, purity for a virgin Mary, and prostitution for the repentant Magdalene. Both of these descriptions are likely inaccurate. My upcoming novel, "Forgotten Followers: from Broken to Bold, shines the light on every woman who interacts with Jesus in the Gospels, many of whom have been remembered only for their faults, whose roles were minimized, or who have been forgotten altogether. In fact, there are many women in the Gospels.

One study found that there are 93 women in the Bible, of whom only 49 are named, and that together they speak just 1.1% of the time. The study resulted in the book “Bible Women: All their Words and Why They Matter”


Another study found there are 188 to 205 women who have names in the Bible, including sixteen women named in the Apocrypha. It is difficult to say how many women are in the Bible, since many women do not have a name, and many individuals have the same name as another person, unfortunately resulting in a merging of female characters. Since there are 1,181 named men in the Bible, we can calculate that of the characters named in the Bible, women represent 14.5% to 17.3% of named Biblical characters.


A third study presents historical information on more than seventy women mentioned in the New Testament alone. This information is in the book "Walking with the Women of the New Testament."

In my novel, Forgotten Followers: from Broken to Bold, I include all the women mentioned in the Gospels. There are 35. This count can vary if names are merged or two people are thought to be one. Of this total of 35 biblical women in my novel

13 have names from the Bible,

6 have names from church tradition,

7 were given fictional names, and

9 remain unnamed.


Here they are, along with where you can find them in the Bible.


Women and their Biblical References

Biblical Name

  1. Maria, mother of Jesus (Matt 1:16-25; 2:11-14, 20-21; Matt 12:46-50; Matt 13:55-56; Mark 3: 31-35; Mark 6:3; Luke 1:26-56; 2:5-51; Luke 8: 19-21; John 2:1-12; 6:42; John 19:25-27; Acts 1:14; Gal 4:4) Women gathered with the apostles in prayer Acts 1:14

Mary (called Maria of Nazareth in my novel)

2. Mary of Clopas: Mary, the mother of James and Joses Matthew 27:56; The “Other Mary” Matthew 27:61, 28:1-10; Mary, the mother of Joses Mark 15:47; Mary, mother of James the Less Mark 15: 40-47, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24: 1-32; Mary, the wife of Cleophas/ Clopas/ Alphaeus (John 19:25) ; Jesus’ mother’s sister/sister-in-law (John 19:25) Women which bewailed and lamented (Luke 23: 27-29) Many other woman who came up with Jesus from Galilee and were watching from afar (Matt 27:55-56; Mark 15: 40-41); Saw Jesus put into the tomb (Matthew 27:61), Women that followed Jesus (Luke 23: 49, 55-56) Women gathered with the apostles in prayer Acts 1:14

Mary of Clopas, mother of James and Joses, the Other Mary (called Mara in my novel)

​3. Elizabeth (Luke 1:5-80) Maria’s relative, mother of John the Baptist

Elizabeth

4. Anna (Luke 2: 36-38) Prophet who blessed Jesus

Anna

5. Herodias (Matt.14: 1-11; Mark 6:17-28; Luke 3:19-20) wife of Herod Antipas

Herodias

6. Marie Magdalene (Matt 27:55- 61; Matt 28:1-10; Mark 15: 40-47; Mark 16: 1-11; patron of Jesus Luke 8:2-3; Luke 24: 1-11; John 19:25) healed of seven demons, Women which bewailed and lamented (Luke 23: 27-29), Saw Jesus put into the tomb (Matthew 27:61), Saw Jesus rise from the dead (John 20:1-18) Women gathered with the apostles in prayer Acts 1:14

Mary Magdalene (called Marie of Magdala in my novel)

7. Joanna, the wife of Chuza, patron of Jesus (Luke 8:2-3; Luke 24: 1-11; Luke 24: 22-24) Women which bewailed and lamented (Luke 23: 27-29); Women gathered with the apostles in prayer Acts 1:14, Junia (Rom. 16: 7) Roman name for Joanna is Junia.It is theorized that Chuza is the Official whose son is healed in John 4:43-54

Joanna

8. Susannah, patron of Jesus, healed by Jesus (Luke 8:2-3) Women which bewailed and lamented (Luke 23: 27-29); Many other women who came up with Jesus from Galilee and were watching from afar (Matt 27:55-56; Mark 15: 40-41); Women that followed Jesus (Luke 23: 49, 55-56) Women at the empty tomb Luke 24:1-24 Women gathered with the apostles in prayer Acts 1:14

Susannah

9. Salome, Mother of Zebedee’s Children, wife of Zebedee (Matt 20:20-23; Matt 27:56 Mark 15: 40-41; Mark 16: 1-8) Women which bewailed and lamented (Luke 23: 27-29) Women at the empty tomb Luke 24:1-24 Women gathered with the apostles in prayer Acts 1:14

Salome

10. Martha of Bethany (Luke 10: 37-42; John 11: 1-6, John 11:17-45; John 12:2 )

Martha

11. Mary of Bethany (Luke 10: 37-42; John 11: 1-5, John 11:17-45; 12:3-9); the woman who Anointed Jesus (Matt 26: 6-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-8)

Mary (called Miriam in my novel)

12. Mary, the Mother of John Mark (Acts 12:12; Col 4:10) Upper Room house

Mary, mother of John Mark

13. Rhoda, servant in John Mark’s house (Acts 12:13-15)

Rhoda

Women and their Biblical References

Present in the Bible but not Named in the Bible (given names from Church History or Tradition in the novel)

14. Peter’s wife; her mother was healed; (Luke 4:38-40); Peter's wife worked with Peter (1 Corinthians 9:5); Women and children among the 5,000 (Matt 14:21); Women and children among the 4,000 (Matt 15:38); Women who brought children to Jesus (Luke 18:15-17, Mark 10:13-16, Matthew 19:13-15) Women gathered with the apostles in prayer Acts 1:14

Perpetua

15. Woman with Issue of Blood/hemorrhaging (Matt 9: 20-22; Mark 5:25-34; Luke 8:43-48)Many other woman who came up with Jesus from Galilee and were watching from afar (Matt 27:55-56; Mark 15: 40-41); Women who followed Jesus (Luke 23: 49, 55-56).It is theorized that she wiped Jesus fate on the via dolorosa path to cross

Veronica

16. In crowd scenes in the Bible; she is described in church history as an apostle with Philip and Nathanael. Among the women in crowd scenes:the 5,000 (Matt 14:21); the 4,000 (Matt 15:38); Women who brought children to Jesus (Luke 18:15-17, Mark 10:13-16, Matthew 19:13-15);Women who bewailed and lamented (Luke 23: 27-29) Many other woman who came up with Jesus from Galilee and were watching from afar (Matt 27:55-56; Mark 15: 40-41); Women who followed Jesus (Luke 23: 49, Luke 23:55-56); Women at the empty tomb Luke 24:1-24

Mariamne, sister of Philip

17. Samaritan Woman at the Well (John 4: 7-42)

Photini

18. Wife of Pontius Pilate (Matt 27:19, 2 Tim 4:21)

Claudia

19. Herodias’ daughter (Matt 14:6-11; Mark: 6: 22-29; Luke 3:19-20)

Salome

Women and their Biblical References

Present in the Bible but not Named in the Bible; given Fictional names for my novel

20. Woman with a Spirit of Infirmity (Luke 13:11-16) bent over crippled for 18 years

Rena

21.Jesus’ Sister (Matt 13:56; Mark 6:3)

Rachel

22. Jesus’ Sister (Matt 13:56; Mark 6:3)

Ruth

23. Syro-phoenician woman (also called Canaanite Woman from Tyre) (Matt 15:21-28, Mark 7:24-30) Acts 21:4-6

Shapash

24. Widow of Nain (Luke 7: 11-17)

Nayila

25. Immoral woman who washed Jesus Feet with her hair and was commended for her faith (Luke 7:36-50)

Keket

26. Woman Caught in Adultery when Jesus saved her from stoning (John 8:1-11)

Galia

Women and their Biblical References

Gospel women who remain unnamed

27. Daughter of the Syro-phoenician woman from Tyre (Matt 15:21-28, Mark 7:24-30)

28. Woman who blessed Jesus’ mother (Luke 11:27-28)

29. Widow who Gave Two Mites (Mark 12:41-44; Luke 21:1-4)

30. Mother of the Man Born Blind (John 9:2-3, 18-23)

31.Damsel/maid to whom Peter denied Christ (Matt 26:69; Mark 14:66- 68; John 18: 17)

32.Servant girl to whom Peter denied Christ (Matt 26:71: Mark 14: 69-70; Luke 22:56-57)

33.Peter’s Mother-in-law (Matt 8:14-15; Mark 1:30-31; Luke 4:38-39)

34. Daughter of Jarius (Matt 9: 18-19, 23-26; Mark 5: 22-24, 35-43; Luke 8:41, 49-56)

35.Wife of Jarius ( Mark 5:40-43; Luke 8:51-56)


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