Mary, the mother of Jesus and the wife of Joseph, is one of the most important and beloved figures in the Gospels. She demonstrates faithfulness to God throughout her life, even when her son Jesus dies on the cross for the world’s sins. One question that people have about Mary is how old she was when Jesus died.
Mary may have been around 47 to 49 years old when Jesus died. This approximation comes from multiple informed but inexact calculations, including the date of 4-6 B.C. for the birth of Christ, 30 A.D. for his death, and the marrying age of 13 years old for young Jewish women at the time.
What word does Luke use that hints at Mary’s age range when Jesus was born? What was the common age for betrothal in the first century for a young Jewish woman? How does knowing Jesus’ birth and death dates help estimate Mary’s age? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.
Mary’s Age At Jesus’ Crucifixion
The Bible doesn’t say how old Mary was when Jesus died. Yet, piecing together evidence from other stories and considering what historians teach about life and culture in the first century for Jewish people, it’s possible to construct an age range for her. However, since the information is imprecise, it’s unwise to be dogmatic about the answer.
Mary was a virgin
The Bible doesn’t say how old Mary was when she gave birth to Jesus. Yet, a certain word that Luke uses to describe Mary suggests an age range, according to historians.
He writes that Mary was “a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary” (Luke 1:27, ESV).
The Greek word parthenos (παρθένος), translated as “virgin,” doesn’t pinpoint a person’s exact age, but it does refer to a narrow window of time, commonly during a young woman’s teenage years.
New Testament scholar I. Howard Marshall explains that parthenos refers to “a young, unmarried girl, and carries the implication of virginity.”  Luke 1:34 alludes to this meaning because when the angel tells Mary that she is going to give birth, she responds, “How will this be since I am a virgin?” (ESV).
Even though many translations (in addition to the ESV) read “virgin” in v. 34 (NIV, NLT, NASB), Luke doesn’t use the Greek word parthenos in 1:34 as he did in 1:27. Instead, he uses a phrase describing the same idea. The NKJV translates Mary’s words literally: “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
Mary was betrothed
Luke 1:27 also says that Mary was betrothed to Joseph when she gave birth to Jesus. “Betrothed” means that she was committed to getting married to a certain person. Some translations say “betrothed” (NASB, NKJV, ESV). Others say “pledged” (NIV). Yet others say “engaged” (NLT).
Marshall reveals how old young women commonly were when they were committed to marrying a certain man: “Betrothal could take place as early as 12 years old and usually lasted for about a year. Although it was regarded as equally binding as marriage, the girl having the same legal position as a wife, it was not normal for intercourse to take place during this period.” 
While young women could be betrothed at 12, there is no historical evidence that most young women were. A family could betroth a daughter at 13, 14, 15, or 16 and still be in alignment with Jewish law and tradition.
In other biblical examples of betrothal, the women weren’t early teenagers (e.g., Jacob and Rachel, Gen. 29), which means it was not abnormal for a family to dedicate their daughter to marriage at a later age.
Other details in Luke’s birth narrative, though not hard evidence, may hint at an older age for Mary. First, she demonstrates a lot of maturity in the passage. Her faith, obedience, and perseverance may imply that she is not a young teenager. Second, her praise to God may reflect someone older.
When Was Jesus Born? When did he die?
If Mary gave birth to Jesus sometime between 4-6 B.C., as most scholars believe, and he died in 30 A.D. (see below), he would have been 34 to 36 years old when he died. On the other hand, if Jesus died in 33 A.D., as some scholars believe, he would have been 37 to 39 years old.
So how old was Mary? If Mary was 13 years old between 4-6 B.C. and Jesus died in 30 A.D., she would have been 47 to 49 years old when he was crucified.
In other words, if Mary was 13 and gave birth to Jesus in 4 B.C. and he died in 30 A.D., she would have been about 47. If she was 13, gave birth in 6 B.C., and Jesus died in 30 A.D., she would have been about 49. If Jesus died in 33 A.D., Mary would have been 50 to 53 years old.
These estimations come from the timeline of Jesus’ life and ministry, as seen in the charts below.
|Jesus is born||5-6 B.C.||Matt. 1:24-25|
|Jesus, Mary, and Joseph flee to Egypt||3-4 B.C.||Matt. 2:1-12|
|Adolescent Jesus teaches in the temple||7-8 A.D.||Luke 2:46-47|
|John the Baptist baptizes Jesus||26-27 A.D.||Matt. 3:13-17|
|Jesus’ first miracle at Cana||26-27 A.D.||John 2:1-11|
|Jesus is tempted in the wilderness||26-27 A.D.||Matt. 4:1-11|
|Jesus cleanses the temple||27 A.D. (Winter)||John 2:13-15|
|Jesus meets Nicodemus||27 A.D. (Winter)||John 3:1-21|
|Jesus meets the Samaritan woman||27 A.D. (Winter)||John 4:5-42|
|Jesus begins to preach in Galilee||27 A.D. (Fall)||Luke 4:42-44|
|Jesus chooses 12 disciples||28 A.D. (Winter)||Mark 3:13-19|
|Jesus preaches the Sermon on the Mount||28 A.D. (Spring)||Matt. 5:1-7:29|
|Jesus ministers in Galilee again||28 A.D. (Summer)||Luke 8:1-3|
|Jesus sends out the 12||28 A.D. (Fall)||Matt. 9:35-11:1|
|Jesus calms the storm||28 A.D. (Fall)||Luke 8:22-25|
|Jesus feeds 5,000||29 A.D. (Spring)||Matt. 14:13-21|
|Jesus transfiguration||29 A.D. (Summer)||Matt. 17:1-13|
|Jesus attends the Festival of Tabernacles||29 A.D. (Fall)||John 7:11-52|
|Jesus begins his last trip to Jerusalem||30 A.D. (Winter)||Luke 17:11|
|Jesus resurrects Lazarus||30 A.D. (Winter)||John 11:1-44|
|Jesus is crucified and resurrected||30 A.D. (Spring)||John 19:17-42|
 The Gospel of Luke (NIGTC) by I. Howard Marshall. p. 64.
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