Clothes and Houses
What Ruth wore, typical houses
The story of Martha and Mary in more
Women: Martha & Mary
Photos of the tomb of
Lazarus; tombs, catacombs from Bible times
Famous paintings of the rivalry
between these two sisters
Bible Art: Martha,
Death and burial - the funeral
customs for Lazarus
Events: Death and Burial
Map of Jerusalem and Bethany
(see map 5)
individuals or groups
women work or stay at home?
Reproving her sister Mary,
a modern dilemma, but in a way this is the central question behind the
story of Mary and Martha.
knows domestic chores are essential, though undervalued; she knows
that a well-run household and competent food preparation demand as
many skills as a Law Degree.
on the other hand, demands
equal rights with the male disciples who are encouraged to learn, read
and discuss. She has a good mind: shouldn't she use it?
sees another dimension to the question: each of us has an obligation
to develop our prayer-life, our spirituality and our relationship
with God; this is the really important thing.
Who is right?
Can we develop some system where all of these needs are catered to?
Do you have any practical suggestions?
of Martha, Mary and Lazarus
the story at Martha and Mary
to the link at the bottom of the painting at right. Scroll
through the paintings from first to last.
part of the story of Martha and Mary has been the most popular with artists?
this have been your choice?
paint what they want to paint, but they also paint with their audience in mind. Look
at the paintings again. Who is the painting directed at? Explain your
you have chosen something different, ask yourself why this other
incident appeals to you more than the scene favored by the artists.
Spend some time quietly thinking about your response.
Letter from the Past
Bethlehem girls in traditional dress, early 19th century photograph
Choose one of the three characters in the Bethany household: Martha, Mary
Write a letter to that person, asking for more details about
what happened in one of the events in which Jesus played a part.
You might ask about the house they lived in, what they were doing, what
their emotions or reactions were, what the other people in the story were
Compose the letter that Martha, Mary or Lazarus might have written in
response to your questions. Give as much information as you can.
Base your response on
research you have done into the life and people
of the times
a creative reconstruction of possible emotions,
reactions, ideas, etc.
the Last Steps of Jesus
Research the route that Jesus followed through the Jerusalem/Bethany/Kidron
Valley area. Find the probable locations of events in the last days of
19th century photograph shows the city of Jerusalem (top and left)
the Kidron Valley in the lower right. The house of Mary, Martha and
was to the right of the photographed area, up the hill from the
at the time of Jesus
Dinner at Bethany
Find out about meals in ancient
the meat, vegetables and desserts that were
available ( a famous cook called Apicius wrote a cookbook at about the
time these events occurred, using ordinary ingredients as well as
expensive ones; use a search engine to locate this book and consult his
the type of cooked dishes that were served
the layout of a dining room
the etiquette of dining.
Using this information, describe the meal that Jesus attended at the home
of Martha, Mary and Lazarus.
'But Martha was distracted by her many
tasks.....' (Luke 10:40)
'Lazarus, come out!' (John 11:43)
'You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.' (12:8)
These three simple
quotatons from the story of Martha and Mary contain profound meanings.
The first is
about the balance between work and prayer
second is about Jesus' power, and his command to Lazarus (and us) to
third is about the necessity of worship as well as good works.
and think about the 'Famous Quotes' above.
an idea about what each one means to you
your idea into words, and discuss your interpretation with a
Questions for the gospel passages
1. What are the most interesting moments in the sisters' story?
2. In the story, who speaks and who listens? Who acts? Who gets what they
want? If you were in the story, which person would you want to be friends
with? Which person would you want to avoid?
3. What is Jesus' interaction with the main characters?
4. What is happening on either side of the story, in the chapters before
and after it? Does this help you understand the purpose of the story?
5. The narrator/editor has chosen to tell some things and leave other
things out. What has been left out of the story that you would like to
6. Are the characteristics and actions of the people in the story still
present in the world? How is the story relevant to modern life, especially
Websites in the left column have background information