Been encouraged to read and study the life, the surrounding story/ message and the woman herself: Mary Magdalene…for my own healing and then to assist others with the teachings and healing energy when ready.
The Gospel of Mary is a fragmented document (missing pages and passages) dated to the early 5th Century and is currently housed in the Museum of Berlin (within the “Berlin Papyrus”) since 1896. It originally showed up in an antique store in Akhmin, Egypt. It is written in Sahidic Coptic language (an ancient Egyptian language spoken up to the 17th century).
The gospel of Mary was based on an earlier text dating from the early 3rd century. There are remnants of this earlier text (the Rylands Papyrus 463).
However these are all copies and the very first Gospel of Mary was most likely written about 150 (estimated by W.C Till). To be frank, people’s own prejudices have affected what we can learn about Mary and each time texts are copied, we can assume they may have been altered in some way to reflect the teachings of those that wanted a ‘copy’ made.
Why was it hidden? Why is it not part of the New Testament? Well, that’s a long and complicated story.
Christians weren’t really liked in the early days as they were seen as threats (to the status quo) and fanatics (watch the movie Agora to see this fictionally portrayed ). The area had it’s religions: The Jews had their own sects (Pharisees, Saducees and Essenes) ,and the Greeks and Romans had their Pantheon of Gods and Goddesses (Hellenists). No-one really wanted them and the Romans even put them in the Colosseum with the lions (see Gladiator 🙂 So they went underground, literally and started using symbology (for example the fish). Read this gospel entry Acts 9 about Saul meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus to see/notice the difficulties within and without all the factions of Christians, Jews and “Hellenists’. Gospel Entry
It was in 325 in Nicaea (Eastern Roman Empire/Byzantine era/ modernTurkey) that Emperor Constantine decided that the Roman Empire should be Christian (Theodosius I proclaims Christianity as the sole religion of the Roman Empire in 380 AD) and brought all the representatives of the different Christian factions together to nut out a common belief system/declaration) in what is known as the Council of Nicaea (read the beginning part of the excellent book by Richard Fidler “Ghost Empire’ 2017) to bring this his-story to life). There was a massive discussion and much disagreement about who and what Jesus was/is…the son of God or man? Is he equal to God or below ‘Him’? And therefor, what was he made of? They came up with an ingenious idea of the Holy Trinity! You can hear (a later version through Latin and then English) of the Nicaean creed recited by the congregation during any Catholic mass to hear the resulting doctrine: He was ‘begotten, not made and is One with the Father’.
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
Maker of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
This is still such an important aspect of the Catholic Church. They changed it again to revisit the original meaning that had been defined in 325AD. In the new translation of the Nicene Creed, “consubstantial with the Father” replaces the expression “of one Being with the Father”, in speaking about the Lord Jesus Christ. The nature of the relationship between God the Father and God the Son, and the truth of the Son’s divinity,are most important aspects of the Christian faith. (Source:https://www.catholic.org.au/national-liturgical-council/faqs)
Anyone that disagreed, even some pretty powerful early ‘priests’ were exiled or worse. The point of sharing all this is to impress upon the reader how deliberate was the control of belief within the Church from it’s early beginnings. Men sat in council to decide what was and what was not acceptable to postulate to believers for the purposes of the Church ….and have pretty much continued doing this since 325 (up to the present debacle around Pedophilia). The idea of Jesus, the Son of God was a tightly controlled/censored concept that would be used to teach (preach) the doctrines and support the Church.
The reader may already see how the Dead Sea Scrolls gospels and the Mary Magdalene gospel would not at all fit within this doctrine. Catholics know this as ‘catechism’ and for others, doctrine means the codes of beliefs or a body of instructions, principles or positions, as the essence of teachings in a given branch of knowledge or belief system and it is where we get the word ‘indoctrination’.
Some gospels were chosen (and possibly altered or at least edited) and others were simply left out and destroyed. Luckily, some of these were hidden and found again in 1945 at Qumram (the area of the Essene ‘University’ or ‘library’ about 20km East of Jerusalem) as what is known as The Dead Sea Scrolls. The Gospel of Thomas is from this cache. The Essenes practiced asceticism, piety, voluntary poverty and daily ritual immersion in water, and some groups practiced celibacy.
Anyone who has read or heard the New Testament will have read that Jesus was the Son of God and was a loving man who was a shepherd of lost souls and helper and healer to all. He welcomed everyone and helped everyone. He taught love for all and was gentle and kind and died “for our sins” so that we would be ‘saved’ and redeemed through God’s glory. In essence, we are taught that if we believe in Jesus, we will be saved (translated that through the Church, you will be saved).
The Nicaean creed says it all really. What he was NOT (according to the Bible) was a metaphysical teacher of ascension and spiritual Oneness. The gospels that were hidden and later found teach a very different message: The Divine is ti be found within you because we are created in the image of God.
And so we come to Mary Magdalene. Where does she fit in to all of this? Well, simply stop and ask most people what comes to mind when you think of Mary Magdalene and you’ll see the problem.
- Who was Mary Magdalene? A prostitute
Many Catholics are shocked to learn that there is no biblical evidence that Mary of Magdala was a prostitute or public sinner…at all. In fact the Gospel of Mary paints her as a visionary, apostle and leader. Here is what we learn about Mary Magdalene from the 4 gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John:
- Mary Magdalene is the only woman mentioned by name in all four texts and her name, in all but one instance, is the first listed when there is mention of the women present at the event.
- The Gospels Mark (16.9) and Luke (8.2) also clearly indicate the Jesus heals Mary Magdalene by freeing her of seven demons
- She is one of the three, along with John the apostle and Mother Mary, who waits at the foot of the cross during Christ’s crucifixion.
- Mary Magdalene is the first to witness Jesus’ resurrection from the tomb (John 20-11, Mark 16-9, Mathew 28-9)
Source: David Tresemer Ph.D. and Laura-Lee Cannon. The Gospel of Mary Magdalene by Jean Yves Leloup 2002
Mary Magdalene, Mother Mary and John
Indeed, she is mentioned no less than 12 times in the New Testament (let alone the hidden gospels)—making her the second most mentioned woman, after Mother Mary. Most references are found in the Crucifixion and empty tomb narratives, where she is portrayed as a loyal disciple at the foot of the cross and as one of the first witnesses to the Resurrection.
What else do we know about her? Unlike other women in the Bible, Mary of Magdala is not identified in relation to another person; she is not anyone’s mother, wife, or sister. Instead, she is called Mary of Magdala, a centre of commercial fishing on the northwest bank of the Sea of Galilee.She was wealthy and she left her home to follow Jesus. Perhaps she financially helped to support Jesus’ ministry.
These female followers of Jesus were faithful and remained loyal when others had not. The four New Testament gospels agree: Mary Magdalene was faithful until the end.
In Matthew’s version (28:1-10) Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” first learn of Jesus’ Resurrection from an angel at the tomb, who tells them to “go quickly and tell his disciples.” As they leave they are met by Jesus, who also instructs them to spread the Good News to the others.
Likewise in Mark’s account (16:1-8) Mary Magdalene is accompanied by Mary, the mother of James, and Salome to anoint Jesus’ body. But inside the empty tomb they find an angel who tells them Jesus has been raised from the dead. Again, Jesus first appears to Mary Magdalene, but when she tells the disciples, they do not believe her.
Luke (24:1-12) says the three women are Mary Magdalene; Mary, the mother of James; and Joanna, and that they first find the stone rolled away and are told by two men “in dazzling clothes” that Jesus has risen from the dead. The other disciples do not believe their “idle tale,” and Peter runs to the tomb to see for himself the burial cloths.
In John’s Resurrection account (20:1-18) Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb alone, sees that the stone has been rolled away, and runs to get Peter. What follows are parallel stories: Verses 3-10 describe how Peter and the disciple Jesus loved witness the burial cloths, but “they did not understand”; while verses 10-18 tell the story of Jesus’ appearance to Mary of Magdala.
“Woman, why are you weeping?” Jesus asks his beloved friend, who is lost in her grief. Mary Magdalene initially mistakes Jesus for the gardener, who had just asked the same question of her. But then she turns and in her recognition calls out, “Rabbouni” (meaning “rabbi” or “teacher”). Then Mary of Magdala goes to tell the disciples, “I have seen the Lord.”
In other texts, the ones not included in the Canonical gospels, we are given a broader understanding of Mary Magdalene who received teachings from Jesus that were not shared with anyone else, not even his disciples.
From Gospel of Philip:
“And the companion of the […] Mary Magdalene. […] loved her more than all the disciples, and used to kiss her often on her […]. The rest of the disciples […]. They said to him “Why do you love her more than all of us?” The Savior answered and said to them, “Why do I not love you like her? 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 Philip is one of the Gnostic Gospels, \dated to around the 3rd century but lost in modern times until an Egyptian man rediscovered it by accident, buried in a cave near Nag Hammadi, in 1945., 2 years before the Qumran discoveries)
So why do some still think Mary Magdalene a prostitute? Well, it comes back to doctrine and men in positions of power making decisions of belief on behalf of their flock …or simply doing what we all do…use our own perspectives and beliefs to filter how we perceive people and events, even historical ones.
Mary Magdalene has been confused with several other women in the Bible, most significantly—and ultimately problematically—with the unnamed sinner in Chapter 7 of Luke. In that story, a woman bathes Jesus’ feet with her tears, anoints them with ointment from her alabaster jar, and dries them with her hair. When the Pharisees object, noting that she is a known sinner, Jesus admonishes them and forgives her “because she has shown great love” (Luke 7:47). Nowhere does it say that this woman was a prostitute, and nowhere is she identified as Mary of Magdala. The anointing also confused many as Mary Of Magdela brings ointment to the tomb to anoint the body and so Mary of Bethany (Martha and Lazurus’ sister) who anoints the feet of Jesus. Additionally, the casting out of demons act, instead of imagining how cleansed she was afterwards, has also influenced Mary’s reputation as people chose to focus on the seven! demons themselves.
The longer and more complex story is that of the role of men in the Catholic Church and the treatment of women. Even the disciples didn’t like the idea of Mary being close to Jesus and most likely the decline of Mary of Magdala’s reputation began very soon after her death.
Then, on Sept. 14, 1591, when Pope Gregory the Great gave a homily in Rome that pronounced that Mary Magdalene, Luke’s unnamed sinner, and Mary of Bethany were, indeed, the same person.
You can get a taster of how men in positions of power within the church can interpret texts and have their interpretations become the interpretation in this excerpt from the same speech:
“But let us hear what is said to the women who came? Be not affrighted! As though he said to them: Let them fear who love not the coming of the heavenly citizens. Let them fear who, steeped in bodily desires, have no hope of belonging to them.”
To be fair to Pope Gregory, he also said:
This was actually repealed almost 400 hundred years later in 1969 but nobody paid much attention and even today, almost 50 years on,it’s generally unknown that Mary Magdalene is a saint.
Mary Magdalene’s feast day is on 22 July.