Bridging the Divided

Mary of Magdala…..

Mary Magdalene was one of the more compelling characters of the New Testament. I have long had an interest in the woman said to be the closest confidante of Yeshua (Jesus) more so than any of the twelve disciples. Mary was a leader and a teacher in her own right and it is quite telling that it was Mary to whom Yeshua appeared at the resurrection. What most of us who have been part of organized religion were taught is that Mary was a prostitute and likely the woman from whom Yeshua expelled seven demons, but was she? There is no historical evidence Mary was a prostitute. Many Biblical historians believe Mary was deemed a prostitute in order to dim her obvious influence in Yeshua’s life mainly because she was a woman. 

The Gospel of Mary, one of the ‘lost gospels’ found in Egypt in 1896, gives rise to a very different view of Yeshua and His relationship with women and particularly this woman. Pope Gregory I is credited with proclaiming Mary of Magdala a prostitute in the year 591. In 1969, the Catholic Church righted the wrong, clearing her name, and in 2016 Pope Francis declared her an apostle to the apostles. Still, reputations die hard and Mary has not yet fully been elevated to the status of the most significant apostle in Yeshua’s ministry. 

The fact that a Pope felt it necessary to start a smear campaign against Mary of Magdala tells me she posed a threat to the male-dominated church doctrine. And to this day we argue and fuss over whether she and Yeshua were romantically involved. Does it really matter? I don’t care one way or the other, Yeshua’s personal relationship with Mary isn’t of interest to me. What does interest me is the obvious dismissal of the significant role women should have played in the development of Christianity. How different Christianity would have been had women maintained equal ground with men instead of being relegated to silence and the sidelines. In truth, historians outside the church credit the development of the early church to several prominent women who traveled the countryside teaching the principles taught them by Yeshua and sharing the insight they gleaned from their personal journeys thereafter. 

Mary’s gospel was not found in its entirety, but enough to understand Yeshua had shared much knowledge with her, so much so she and Peter were at odds, mainly, it is believed, because she was a woman and Peter’s perception that Yeshua chose her over his male disciples. Male superiority has been a common thread throughout history and sadly, perpetuated by the church. I am of the opinion it is time to rectify a longtime wrong and truly elevate the status of women to that as equal to men in the church.

Mary was revered among the Gnostics as having the ‘gnosis’; gnosis meaning to seek wisdom or knowledge. Some call Gnosticism a cult, others believe it a legit journey of learning and understanding. There is no one definition of Gnosticism, rather it seems to be a compilation of many beliefs and doctrines. Gnosticism is colorful in its descriptions, poetic in many ways. Much of what Christians have claimed as the God-breathed truths in the Old Testament regarding the origins of the universe is derived from Gnostic belief whether or not they choose to accept it as such; the duality of flesh versus spirit and the struggle with their material existence (sin), enter the Garden of Eden. The church teachings on salvation have commonality with Gnostic teachings, as well. Gnostic doctrine teaches of a redeemer, releasing the physical body from the bondage of sin, and realizing one’s true identity and returning to their real home. Sound familiar?

I don’t see Mary Magdalene as a Gnostic, a Christian, or any other designation. Why does anyone need a designation? Mary was a follower of Yeshua, received wisdom and guidance from Him while He walked the earth and after as she journeyed with Divine Love as many do today…..

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