The Anointing of Jesus is recorded in all four Gospels. A woman anoints Jesus' feet with expensive perfume and wipes the perfume with her hair.

Was this one event, or multiple events?

(I tend to think the former, since Jesus said that this story will be told wherever the gospel is preached (Mark 14:9). It may be a stretch, but I thought that would also apply to the four Biblical gospels.)

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    As implied by the question, both the "one event" and "two events" views have adherents, so the answer to it is opinion-based. Asking for each side's case in separate questions would be preferable. Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 13:13

3 Answers 3


The four gospels record the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. There are multiple events that are shared and reported among the four gospels.

This is one of those events.

Note that Wikipedia mentions that this could be two separate events, but it is commonly accepted to be one event, shared among the gospels.


If we look at the four gospels, we see Jesus crucified, buried, and resurrected four separate times. The events leading up to his death are similar including four last suppers, four records of trial, etc.

Now, we can presume that he did all of these events multiple times, or we can (rightly) move forward with the understanding that these records are four viewpoints of the same events.

In all four books, Jesus was anointed with expensive oil. Two books show he was anointed on his head, two show he was anointed on his feet. More than likely, he was anointed on once on both his head and his feet.

Mark records the estimate of the oil at 300 denarii. A denarius is valued at 10 asses. A donkey, in modern currency, is worth around US$1000-$2500. This makes the oil worth 3,000 asses, which is, in today's money, $3,000,000 - $7,500,000.

I don't know about you, but I rarely come across any single item that's worth multiple millions of dollars.

Yes, Jesus might have been anointed twice or four times. But if we use just the tiniest amount of common sense, it seems pretty obvious that being anointed with a $3million oil was not a common event. Therefore, it's extremely safe to assume that this was really simply one event.

  • Please add some justification for this. Commented Aug 27, 2011 at 17:19
  • Thank you. The implications are huge. This was (according to Luke) at one time a sinful woman and (according to John), Mary, one of Jesus' best friends. Interesting then that the Gospel writers who knew her chose to protect her anonymity. Commented Aug 30, 2011 at 12:45
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    Your reasoning about the value is totally wrong. The "10 asses" figure refers not to donkeys, but to as (currency). Commented Oct 1, 2011 at 21:56
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    @dancek is right. A simple rule of thumb is that a denarius is one day's pay. See Matthew 20:1-16. So this is under a year's pay for a minimum wager earner. Quite valuable, but not impossibly valuable. Commented Mar 19, 2012 at 16:14
  • I've found a verse which appears to back up Richard's answer. Commented Apr 19, 2012 at 20:22

The account in Luke is vastly different than the other accounts. John tells that Martha was serving and Mary was at Jesus' feet, with Lazarus sitting nearby. Luke says that after Jesus rebuked Simon the Pharisee, he told the woman that her faith had saved her, and to go in peace.

Why would he say that to Mary? Mary and Martha had hosted Jesus before, and Jesus brought their beloved brother back to life. Jesus and Mary are close friends. So why would He tell her to leave the banquet?

No, Mary being a devoted disciple, would have known about what the other woman did - and may have even seen it, or at least smelled it! The story of the other woman was at the end of Luke 7, and Luke 8:1-2 tells us that as Jesus was soon after (the first anointing) going from town to town, with Mary was one of the women following Him and supporting His ministry.

I think the evidence points to Mary copying what the other woman did to express her thankfulness and love for Jesus. After all, she had had 7 demons cast out of her, and Jesus had healed her brother of death. She had much to be thankful for.

  • Welcome Tom! Thanks for contributing. I'd encourage you to expand on this a bit – in which gospel(s) do the disciples react in the same way? Giving chapter and verse references will make it easier for readers to confirm your argument. If you haven't already done so, I hope you'll take a minute to take the tour and learn how this site is different from others. Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 13:08
  • Sorry - completely changed my comment after realizing that I had not read the account in Luke.
    – Tom
    Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 13:21
  • I had an additional thought, now that I have seen how closely in proximity Mary was to the first time Jesus was anointed. It is possible that she was the first woman. If Jesus had freed her from the demons, she certainly had the means to go and buy the nard and follow Him to the feast at Simon's house. At that time, she may not have known Jesus as well, so it would be appropriate for Him to tell her to "go in peace". This theory has some assumptions in it, but is still plausible with the proximity link of Luke 7 and 8.
    – Tom
    Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 14:44

Just read John 11:2, which states that Mary was the one who anointed Jesus' feet and wiped them with her hair...and at this time, Lazarus was sick. I think I found confirmation of my theory that Mary did this to Jesus twice!

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    I'd suggest adding this detail to your other answer; it complements it well. Normally there's no need to answer the same question twice. Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 16:24

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