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Contents:
  1. The Gospel of Mary
  2. The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, by Cynthia Bourgeault | Parabola Essay
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  4. Restoring Mary of Magdala as an Apostle to the Apostles

Get your daily four-minute dose of sanity on the Breakpoint Podcast plus teaching, interviews, and more. There seems to have been an overt intention to exclude women from that process. The reason is that it is an obvious forgery. The Gospel of Mary is a work of fan-fiction by members of a false religion who attempted to co-opt Jesus for their own purposes. Even more, the Mary Magdalene revealed in the Bible is the best response we have to the accusation that early Christianity was sexist. Recall that she is reported as the first witness of the risen Lord—a claim that would have scandalized first-century Jewish readers.

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None of these texts were included in the Bible, because the content didn't conform to Christian doctrine, and they're referred to as apocryphal. They tend to concentrate on things that one doesn't read about in the Bible. For example, New Testament gospels report that after the resurrection Jesus spent some time talking with the disciples, but you don't learn much about what he said.

In the gospels of Nag Hammadi you can read what he said.


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Although they're not Biblical texts, experts still believe that they give us significant insights into Christian history. In these apocryphal texts we might have genuine traditions about Jesus that for one reason or another didn't make it into the New Testament. For the first time in hundreds of years there was a new source of information about Mary Magdalene. She appears very frequently as one of the prominent disciples of Jesus. In certain texts where Jesus is in discussion with his disciples, Mary Magdalene asks many informed questions.

Whereas the other disciples at times seem confused, she is the one who understands. It has been the cause of one of the most controversial claims ever made about her. During their long burial in the desert, some of the books were attacked by ants. In this Gospel, the ants made a hole in a very crucial place.

The text says:. And the companion of the [ The rest of the disciples [ They said to him "Why do you love her more than all of us? When a blind man and one who sees are both together in darkness, they are no different from one another. When the light comes, then he who sees will see the light, and he who is blind will remain in darkness.

The Gospel of Mary

The lacuna , or gap, which hides where Jesus kissed Mary has tantalised scholars for decades. Some scholars have interpreted the kiss in a more spiritual sense and see kissing as a symbol for an intimate reception of teaching of the word of God, of learning. The image of Jesus and Mary as engaged in mouth-to-mouth closeness suggests not necessarily sexuality, but the transmission of divine knowledge.

Mary Magdalene appears in this text also not only as the disciple he loved most but also as a symbolic figure of heavenly wisdom. These stories of Mary - as Jesus' closest companion and a symbol of heavenly wisdom - are in sharp contrast with the Mary Magdalene of popular imagination. It often means that it's not to be read, not to be taken seriously, not to be considered, not true. The contents of these books are regarded by many people as legends.


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So can we believe the Gospel of Philip? Was Mary really Jesus' closest companion?

The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, by Cynthia Bourgeault | Parabola Essay

Well, there is other evidence for this, and some of it is even in the Bible itself. The Bible says that Mary Magdalene was present at the two most important moments in the story of Jesus: the crucifixion and the resurrection. Mary Magdalene was a prominent figure at both these events.

We're told that Mary Magdalene was one of the women who kept vigil at Jesus' tomb. It was customary at this time for Jewish women to prepare bodies for burial. Corpses were considered unclean, and so it was always a woman's task to handle them. When Mary goes to the tomb, Jesus' body is no longer there. The fullest account of Mary's role after discovering the empty tomb is in the Gospel of John.

She is in a state of shock and runs to where the disciples are gathered to tell them the news. When she reports to the disciples she is not believed. Peter and another disciple return with her to the tomb, to see for themselves. When they enter, Peter reacts to the sight of the discarded linen burial cloth with anger and dismay.

But the other disciple understands what has happened and concludes that Jesus must have risen from the dead.

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Mary is alone when someone asks her why she's crying. She believes it's the gardener, and says, "they have taken my lord's body and I do not know where it is". The figure says her name.


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And then she sees Jesus. She is overwhelmed and says "Master! He says "don't touch me".

Restoring Mary of Magdala as an Apostle to the Apostles

Instead, she must go to the others and tell them that he has risen from the dead. It's an awesome moment. Jesus stands before her, yet he's beyond her reach.

Restoring Mary of Magdala as an Apostle to the Apostles

We cannot say if Jesus really stood before her resurrected, or if Mary simply believed she had seen him. But either way, in this one moment, Mary's experience took the movement in an important new direction. A new concept developed, which had nothing to with what Jesus himself was preaching, and this is the concept that Jesus didn't die - or he did but he was raised from the dead. The movement is not a failure.

It is in fact a great success. The person who declares this is Mary Magdalene. Jesus' resurrection was the turning point for Christianity. The version of Mary Magdalene as a prostitute held on for centuries after Pope Gregory the Great made it official in his sixth-century sermon, though neither Orthodoxy nor Protestantism adopted it when those faiths later split from the Catholic Church. Finally, in , the Church admitted that the text of the Bible does not support that interpretation. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

Twice a week we compile our most fascinating features and deliver them straight to you. This Day In History. Other early documents portray her as Jesus's companion—and even mention kissing. What's really known about the Bible's most mysterious woman? What Did Jesus Look Like?