Sunday, May 21, 2006

Mary Magdalene: An Inconvenient Woman

But never a prostitute. The Vatican invented that to weaken her importance. Women, after all, don't hold positions of responsibility, do they, Condi?


Yet the Magdalene—that part of her name derives from Magdala, her hometown—lives on in another tradition that can be found in an obscure second-century text. Dubbed "The Gospel of Mary," it depicts Mary as a leader of Jesus' followers in the days after his resurrection. Written by Christians some 90 years after Jesus' death, Mary's is a "Gnostic gospel"; the Gnostics, a significant force in the early years of Christianity, stressed salvation through study and self-knowledge rather than simply through faith. The text was lost for centuries until found in fragments by a collector in Cairo in 1896. In its telling, Jesus rises and vanishes after instructing his disciples to "preach the good news about the Realm." The exhortation makes them uneasy: Christ had died preaching that gospel. What was to save them from a similar fate?



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