How Old Was Mary When Jesus Died?

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 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.

Also, see How Old Was Mary When She Gave Birth to Jesus? to learn more.

Mary Joseph and Jesus
What word does Luke use that hints at Mary’s age? See below

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.” [1] 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.” [2]

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.

Also, see How Old Was Joseph When He Married Mary? to learn more.

Mary and Jesus
What year did Jesus die? See below

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 born5-6 B.C.Matt. 1:24-25
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph flee to Egypt3-4 B.C.Matt. 2:1-12
Adolescent Jesus teaches in the temple7-8 A.D.Luke 2:46-47
John the Baptist baptizes Jesus26-27 A.D.Matt. 3:13-17
Jesus’ first miracle at Cana26-27 A.D.John 2:1-11
Jesus is tempted in the wilderness26-27 A.D.Matt. 4:1-11
Jesus cleanses the temple27 A.D. (Winter)John 2:13-15
Jesus meets Nicodemus27 A.D. (Winter)John 3:1-21
Jesus meets the Samaritan woman27 A.D. (Winter)John 4:5-42
Jesus begins to preach in Galilee27 A.D. (Fall)Luke 4:42-44

Also, see Where Was Joseph When Jesus Died? to learn more.

Mary Jesus cross
“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother” (John 19:25)
Jesus chooses 12 disciples28 A.D. (Winter)Mark 3:13-19
Jesus preaches the Sermon on the Mount28 A.D. (Spring)Matt. 5:1-7:29
Jesus ministers in Galilee again28 A.D. (Summer)Luke 8:1-3
Jesus sends out the 1228 A.D. (Fall)Matt. 9:35-11:1
Jesus calms the storm28 A.D. (Fall)Luke 8:22-25
Jesus feeds 5,00029 A.D. (Spring)Matt. 14:13-21
Jesus transfiguration29 A.D. (Summer)Matt. 17:1-13
Jesus attends the Festival of Tabernacles29 A.D. (Fall)John 7:11-52
Jesus begins his last trip to Jerusalem30 A.D. (Winter)Luke 17:11
Jesus resurrects Lazarus30 A.D. (Winter)John 11:1-44
Jesus is crucified and resurrected30 A.D. (Spring)John 19:17-42

Also, see Why Did Jesus Descend Into Hell? to learn more.

[1] The Gospel of Luke (NIGTC) by I. Howard Marshall. p. 64.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Nave’s Topical Bible

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see his About page for details.

Related Questions

error: This content is copyrighted.