Mary Magdalene
woman of mystery

Mary Magdalene is one of the most well-known female characters of the New Testament; popularized in many articles, books, movies, and even in a rock opera – Jesus Christ Superstar.  In most  representations she is portrayed as a former prostitute who comes to Jesus in repentance. 

What is interesting: there is nothing in the Gospels to support the idea that Mary Magdalene was ever a prositute - Nothing!!  Why have all the Christian writers since the first century  misrepresented the person we call Mary Magdalene?  Clearly, they are discrediting her for the same reason a lawyer discredits the character of a witness - to dismiss her role in the Gospels!!

The True Mary Magdalene

So who was Mary Magdalene? The truth has been deeply buried, but there are some things we do know for sure.

Mary is a traditional Jewish name (Mariam), possibly of Egyptian origin. Magdalene, in the Hebrew original, means “from the tower(Migdal)”; referring either to Magdala, a thriving fishing town on the coast of Galilee and  within walking distance of Capernaum, where Jesus started of his ministry.  Or it may be a reference to a tower (symbolic or not) with which she is associated. Luke 8:2  says that Jesus casting demons from Mary Magdalene, sometime prior to her becoming his committed follower.

in three of the four canonical Gospels, Mary Magdalene is mentioned by name only in connection with the death and resurrection of Jesus. She is a witness to his crucifixion (Matthew 27:55–56; Mark 15:40–41; John 19:25) and burial (Matthew 27:61; Mark 15:47).1 She is one of the first (the first, according to John) to arrive at the empty tomb (Matthew 28:1–8; Mark 16:1–8; Luke 24:1–12; John 20:1–10). And she is one of the first (again, the first, according to John) to witness the risen Christ (Matthew 28:9; John 20:14–18).

Gospel of Luke goes even further and names Mary Magdalene in connection with Jesus’ daily life and public ministry. There, Mary is listed as someone who followed Jesus as he went from village to village, bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. “And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means” (Luke 8:1–3).

We learn that Mary Magdalene experienced a positive change in her life due to her meeting Jesus. The traditionalists, due to their obsession with sex, claim that she was originally a prostitute. Have we allowed the chauvinism of the past to influence our modern understanding?  Is it not equally possible that the change was not sexual, but religious? Could it be that the “evil” that Jesus removed from her, was not prostitution, but  her participation in an unpopular religious activity? 

Why attack Mary Magdalene?

According to Harvard scholar Karen King, a tiny papyrus fragment, smaller than a business card, ignites the controversy about whether or not Jesus had a spouse. In the newly publicized fourth century fragment, Jesus supposedly refers to, “my wife.”¹ Just below that phrase, the papyrus includes a second provocative clause that purportedly says, “she will be able to be my disciple.” Dr. King first learned about what she calls The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife’ in 2010 when a private collector asked her to translate it. Dr. King, specializes in Coptic literature, and has written several books on Coptic-Christian subjects.  There are numerous writings on the marriage of Jesus, but we will not go into that here (Google  Jesus married ) Denial of the marriage of Jesus is certainly one reason for the early Christians to denigrate Mary Magdalene, but could there be another reason.

 Gospel of Philip    "There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary, his mother, and her sister, and Magdalene, the one who was called his companion. . . . .And he loved her more than all the disciples and used to kiss her often on her mouth. 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 the 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"

Gospel of Thomas  Simon Peter says to them: "Let Mary go out from our midst, for women are not worthy of life!" Jesus says: "See, I will draw her so as to make her male so that she also may become a living spirit like you males. For every woman who has become male will enter the Kingdom of heaven."

 The Lost Gospel (The Story of Joseph and Aseneth) this is the most controversial, and obscure text of them all. It dates prior to the 6th century C.E.- though this is the oldest copy available. Superfically it narrates the romance, and marriage of the Israelite patriarch Joseph and his Egyptian wife, Asenath. (Genesis 41:45)  Some regard it as nothing more than an Jewish elaboration on the story. Others question its Jewish origin because of its  language (Son of God, Bride of God) and the Eucharistic symbolism Many argue that the text is Gnostic Christian in origin and is the veiled story of the marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.

      Jesus cast out demons from Mary Magdalene and seeing Joseph caused Asenath to forsake her  Pagan gods. In the narration Joseph is called the Son of God and is described in terms reserved for Christ or God. The obsession with virginity can only be found in Christianity and the worship of Artemis.  Artemis' twin brother is Apollo, or Adonis which means "Lord.", Remember this story takes place in Egypt where the marriage of brother and sister was custom.

      Going deeper, it may be, at root, the myth of the union of Jesus and Artemis - the two major deities of the first century AD. This union is to be found in Coptic Christianity. Supporting this idea is the notable  focus  in  The Lost Gospel  on  the  tower  in  which  Asenath 
lived  and  her  strange  spiritual relationship with bees.  Both the tower and bees are important symbols found in the worship of Artemis.
     Asenath could represent either Artemis or Mary Magdalene. The "Lord" may be Joseph, but more than likely he is Jesus, i.e. the Lord, the Son of God.