Friday, February 01, 2008

There's Something About Mary

This afternoon I started reading The Resurrection of Mary Magdalene by Jane Schaberg. From her introduction:
I used to think of the apocryphal texts as branching out of the canonical tree; I see now that both canonical and apocryphal go down to the roots; their biology is interactive, radically symbiotic. The profile of the Gnostic/apocryphal Mary Magdalene seems at first to bear little relation to that of the Christian Testament character. But we are learning that the sources of conflict between different forms of early Christianity, especially those under the names of Mary Magdalene and Peter, are deeper and older than was thought. She represents women's prophetic power in the Gnostic/apocryphal literature, as well as in the source I reconstruct behind John 20. Some scholars like Bovon think that the reason Gnostic literature was declared heterodox, and therefore fell into disuse, may have less to do with its doctrinal content than with Mary Magdalene's priority among the disciples, especially in relation to Peter.
Mary Magdalene is probably the most misunderstood character in the New Testament. She is popularly depicted as a prostitute, and has been since shortly after the NT period. But there is no support for that image in the NT. More on that later. With the discovery of other gospels we are learning that in some traditions she was regarded as the disciple who understood Jesus. It should be an interesting read.

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