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had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
There is a really important detail here which is clear in the Greek but obscured by almost all the translations - though so much by the AV. The it says:
Μαριάμ, ἣ καὶ παρακαθεσθεῖσα πρὸς τοὺς πόδας τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἤκουεν τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ.
(Mariam, hee kai parakathestheisa pros tous podas tou ieesou eekouev ton logon autou)
kathestheisa means "sat", parakathestheisa means "sat alongside". Disciples "sit at the feet of" their master - this is not an attitude of adoration or contemplation but instruction. So the passage should be translated "Mary, who also sat alongside [the other disciples] at the feet of Jesus listening to his word [being formally instructed by him]."
Sadly both traditionalist Catholics and Protestants have their own reasons for glossing over this. Consequently the NIV has "who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said" - the RSV has "who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching" (which isn't so bad) and the JB "who sat down at the Lord's feet and listened to him speaking". Tom Wright is very good on this in his commentary:
"When Saul of Tarsus 'sat the feet of Gamaliel' (Acts 22.3), he wan't gazing up adoringly and thinking how wonderful the great rabbi was; he was listening and learning...To sit at someone's feet meant, quite simply, to be their student. And to sit at the feet of a rabbi was what you did if you wanted to be a rabbi yourself."