Today’s blog is Part II of a series exploring the role of Mary Magdalene in the early years of the Jesus movement, its retreat under the shadow of orthodoxy and the invitation to restore her (and her movement) to its rightful place in the light.
My Current Theories on Mary Magdalene
After nearly 20 years of reading, researching, praying and discerning possibly every modern (and some ancient) text written about Mary Magdalene, I have come to one solid conclusion – we can say nothing with 100% certainty. As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, the current books available on Mary and the “research” (I use that term loosely) demonstrates some solid historical context, ancient texts which seem to be in support of her role as a close companion and student of Jesus as well as a leader in the early church, a lot of conjecture and some just plain fantasy. Below I will list the books to which I give a scholarly thumbs up and seem to be most rooted in scientific research (at least as scientific as one can be 2000 years after the fact with very limited supporting resources).
After spending the past two decades exploring the topic of Mary Magdalene, I have come to some of my own conclusions which I will share with you here…..stating upfront that these are only THEORIES and they are unique to me. Don’t ask me to prove these theories, because as I said, there is little supporting scientific evidence. I can only share with you what feels like truth for me knowing that there are many out there who would agree. So….here’s a little
Something About Mary
(According to Lauri Lumby anyway). And if this helps, you may put this in the form of a creed….placing “I believe” statements before each of the bullet points below:
- Mary Magdalene was a close an intimate follower, student, disciple of Jesus
- She accompanied him in his ministry and maybe helped to support him financially
- With Jesus’ help and through a formal process of spiritual formation and healing, she was healed and released from the inner fears (demons) that prevented her from being a fully actualized human.
- She is the ONLY disciple about whom this kind of initiation, healing and release is mentioned
- She either received different teachings from Jesus or understood his teachings in a way that far surpassed the comprehension of the other disciples
- Because of the knowledge, wisdom and healing that she acquired, she was able to be witness to the resurrection
- She was commissioned by Jesus to carry the news of the resurrection to the other disciples
- The disciples did not believe her until Jesus appeared in their midst
- Jesus and Mary’s relationship may have risen to a status of “lover and beloved” meaning intimate spiritual friends, brother and sister and companions (like Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross or St. Francis and Clare of Assisi).
- Jesus and Mary may or may not have been married – again this has no bearing on my faith
- After Jesus’ death and resurrection, Mary received visitations and additional teachings through the Christ
- Mary attempted to share these teachings with the other disciples
- The other disciples, most notably Peter, were resistant to her teachings
- Peter’s attitude and behavior toward Mary was dismissive, antagonistic and potentially abusive
- Sometime after it became clear that Mary’s understanding of Jesus’ teachings would not be received by the church in Jerusalem, she departed
- She went elsewhere – possibly Egypt and most probably Southern France, maybe to Glastonbury, England
- The communities that gathered around Mary and her perspective on the Jesus message were most likely contemplative based, rooted in prayer and meditation, focusing on coming to know the God within and on the journey of self-actualization
- Mary would have shared Jesus’ secret teachings along with the formal process of initiation that he facilitated with her with the people that gathered around her and became her students, etc.
- The monastic movement may be the underground reflection of the church of Mary Magdalene.
- The early Church (big C – Institutional) referred to Mary Magdalene as “Apostle to the Apostles:
- Magdalene may not be a surname, and may not be the town of her origin. “Magdalene” may be a contraction of two Hebrew words generally meaning “Great Tower”, and may have been a title assigned to her, reflective of her role in Jesus’ ministry.
Resources for further reading:
- Haskins, Susan; Mary Magdalene – Myth and Metaphor; Harper Collins; 1993
- MacDermot, Violet; The Fall of Sophia; Lindisfarne Books; 2001
- King, Karen L.;The Gospel of Mary of Magdala;Polebridge Press, 2003
- Malachi, Tau; Mary Magdalene – the Gnostic Traditions of the Holy Bride; Llewellyn Worldwide
- LeLoup, Jean-Yves; The Gospel of Mary Magdalene; Inner Traditions: 2002
- LeLoup, Jean-Yves; The Gospel of Philip; Inner Traditions; 2003
- LeLoup, Jean-Yves; The Gospel of Thomas; Inner Traditions;
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