MARY OF MAGDALA AS SEEN IN THE ANCIENT TEXTS

MARY OF MAGDALA
AS SEEN IN THE ANCIENT TEXTS

www.pathwaytoascension.com

Compilation & Comments
Nancy B. Detweiler, M.Ed., M.Div.

Mary of Magdala (or Mary Magdalene) played a major role in the ministry of Jesus; yet she is the most mysterious of biblical characters.  In 591 C.E., Pope Gregory I, in his Homily 33, declared her to be a whore.  This proclamation was recanted in 1969 by the Vatican, when she was declared St. Mary Magdalene.  However, the public continues to think in terms of Mary being a sinner; she is viewed as an example of one who has been forgiven.  Those who search for her true identity most often confuse her with Mary of Bethany, sister of Jesus’ friends Martha and Lazarus.

Can we determine the true identity of Mary of Magdala?  Why has she, out of all the biblical characters, been the only one to be so mysterious?

The place to start our search for Mary’s true identity is in the ancient texts.

THE BIBLE

Quotes taken from Lamsa’s translation from the Aramaic of the Peshitta.  The Peshitta is considered the most ancient of Aramaic (the language of Jesus) scriptural texts.  According to the Catholicos Patriarch of the East, Mar Eshai Shimun, this text was handed down by the Apostles and has not been changed or revised.  (1957)

Gospel of Matthew – written by an unknown Jewish Christian in Antioch, Syria around 90 C.E. (A.D.).

Gospel of Mark – Early church tradition attributes the authorship to Mark, a companion of the Apostle Paul in Rome around 70 C.E. (A.D.).

Gospel of Luke – Early church tradition attributes the authorship to Luke, a companion of the Apostle Paul most likely in southern Greece around 80-90 C.E. (A.D.).

Gospel of John – This gospel is very different from the synoptic gospels. The author of this gospel remains a mystery and is simply attributed to “the beloved disciple.” With the newly proclaimed evidence of Mary of Magdala’s role in the ministry of Jesus and her intimate relationship with him, she could easily be “the beloved disciple” who wrote the Gospel of John. An excellent article on this subject may be found at the following URL:  www.BelovedDisciple.org.

Mary of Magdala played a major role in the ministry of Jesus. She was accepted as the leader of a group of wealthy women who followed and served Jesus. Her name is listed first in every listing of the women who accompanied Jesus. These lists read as follows:

Following the crucifixion: “There were also many women there, who were looking from afar, those who had followed Jesus from Galilee, and who used to minister to him. One of them was Mary of Magdala; and the others were Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.”

“So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a shroud of fine linen, and laid it in his own new tomb which was hewn in a rock; and they rolled a large stone, and placed it against the door of the tomb and went away. And there were there Mary of Magdala and the other Mary, who were sitting opposite the tomb.”

“In the evening of the Sabbath, when the first day of the week began to dawn, there came Mary of Magdala and the other Mary to see the tomb.”

Matthew 27:55-56, 61; 28:1

Following the crucifixion: “There were also women who were looking from afar, Mary of Magdala, and Mary the mother James, the young and of Joses, and Salome; who had followed him, when he was in Galilee and ministered to him; and many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.”

“But Mary of Magdala and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.”

“When the Sabbath had passed, Mary of Magdala, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, that they might come and anoint him.”

Mark 15:40-41, 47; 16:1

“And the women who were healed of diseases and unclean spirits, Mary who is called of Magdala, from whom seven demons went out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza the steward of Herod, and Suzanna, and many others, who ministered to them of their wealth.”

“And on the first day of the week, early in the morning, while it was yet dark, they came to the tomb and brought the spices which they had prepared; and there with them other women.

“They were Mary of Magdala, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and the rest who were with them.”

Luke 8:2-3; 24:1,10

According to all four New Testament gospels, Mary of Magdala is foremost in the narrative relating Jesus’ burial in Joseph of Arimathea’s new tomb.

Matthew’s Gospel – see above scripture.

Mark’s Gospel – see above scripture.

Luke’s Gospel – see above scripture.

“Now there were standing by the cross of Jesus his mother and his mother’s sister and Mary of Cleopas and Mary of Magdala.”

John 19:25

It is interesting to note that in the gospel of John, Mary of Magdala, is listed last. Did she, as the author of the Gospel of John, simply place her name last?

According to all four New Testament gospels, Mary of Magdala is foremost in the discovery of the empty tomb:

“In the evening of the Sabbath, when the first day of the week began to dawn, there came Mary of Magdala and the other Mary to see the tomb.. He is not here, for he has risen, just as he had said. Come, see the place where our Lord was laid.”

Matthew 28:1, 6

“When the Sabbath had passed, Mary of Magdala, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, that they might come and anoint him.. And they looked and saw that the stone was rolled away, for it was very large. And they entered the tomb, and saw a young man, sitting on the right, covered with a white robe; and they were astonished. But he said to them, Do not be afraid. You seek Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified; he has risen; he is not here; behold the place where he was laid.”

Mark 16:1-6

“And on the first day of the week, early in the morning, while it was yet dark, they came to the tomb.. They entered in, but they did not find the body of Jesus.. They were Mary of Magdala, and Joanna, and Mary, the mother of James, and the rest who were with them.”

Luke 24:1-3, 10

“On the first day of the week, early in the morning, while it was yet dark, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb; and she saw that the stone was removed from the tomb.”

John 20:1

Note the difference in the narrative in John’s gospel. Mary of Magdala comes to the tomb alone. Is she simply relating her story as the author of the 4th gospel?

In all four gospels, Mary of Magdala is foremost in receiving the news of Jesus’ resurrection. She is to tell the disciples:

“.there came Mary of Magdala and the other Mary to see the tomb.. But the angel answered, saying to the women, ‘You need not be afraid; for I know that you are seeking Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, just as he had said. Come, see the place where our Lord was laid. And go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead and behold, he will go before you to Galilee; there you will see him; lo I have told you.’ And they went away hurriedly from the tomb with fear and with great joy, running to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said to them, ‘Peace be to you.’ And they came up and laid hold of his feet and worshipped him.”

Matthew 28:1, 5-9

“.Mary of Magdala, and Mary the mother of James .. But he said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. You seek Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified; he has risen; he is not here; behold the place where he was laid. But go away and tell his disciples, and Peter, that he will be before you just as he has told you.'”

Mark 16:1, 6-7

“.They were Mary of Magdala, and Joanne, and Mary the mother of James, and the rest who were with them, who told these things to the apostles.”

Luke 24:4-10

“On the first day of the week, early in the morning, while it was yet dark, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb.. So the disciples went away again to their lodging place. But Mary was standing near the tomb weeping; and as she wept, she looked into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white sitting one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. And they said to her, ‘Woman, why do you weep?’ She said to them, ‘Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ She said this and turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why do you weep? and whom do you want?’ She thought he was the gardener, so she said to him, ‘My lord, if you are the one who has taken him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will go and take him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned around and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbuli!’ which means, My Teacher! Jesus said to her, ‘Do not come near me; for I have not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, and my God and your God. Then Mary of Magdala came and brought glad tidings to the disciples, that she had seen our Lord and that he had told her these things.”

John 20:1, 10-18

Note the difference in the narrative. Mary of Magdala is alone at the tomb. Jesus appears to her first, then later to the disciples. Is Mary of Magdala, as the author of John’s gospel, telling the story of her private encounter with Jesus?

In Mark 14:1-9, we find “There came a woman who had with her an alabaster vessel of perfume of pure nard, of good quality and very expensive; and she opened it and poured it upon the head of Jesus.. Jesus said, ‘Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has done a good deed for me.. But this one has done it with what she had; she anointed my body in advance as for the burial. And truly I say to you, wherever this my gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told as a memorial to her.'”

Although Mark’s gospel does not identify this woman, we can derive several clues from the narrative:

1.  The woman is wealthy. She uses very expensive pure nard (spikenard), a perfume imported from the Himalayas in alabaster boxes and opened on special occasions. In biblical times, this nard cost approximately one year’s wages. (Harper’s Bible Dictionary).

2.  Anointing on the head, during biblical times, was a means of investing someone with power, such as the anointing of Solomon as king by the priest Zadok and the prophet Nathan. (I Kings 1:39) Anointing could also signify the consecration of someone or something for a holy purpose. (Harper’s Bible Dictionary) Anointing on the head in the presence of a gathering was performed by priests and prophets—persons held in high esteem and possessing spiritual authority.

3.  Jesus recognized the woman’s anointing as highly significant. In his words: “Wherever this my gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”

4.  The story of the woman anointing his head is to be told as a memorial to her, not to Jesus. Jesus knew her actions to be on par with his gospel. This eternal union instituted by Jesus signifies a pairing of male and female.

THE NON-CANONICAL GOSPELS

Non-canonical means not selected by the Church Fathers
to be contained within the New Testament.

Note that all the ancient texts quoted pre-date
the Ecumenical Councils in which church doctrine was determined.

The 1st Ecumenical Council met in Nicaea in 325 C.E. This Council defined the foundations of orthodoxy.

THE GOSPEL OF THOMAS

The gospel of Thomas is a collection of sayings attributed to Jesus by the early Christians. The earliest of the Greek fragments found thus far dates from 200 C.E.; however its original composition most likely took place during the second half of the 1st century C.E. Thomas was revered in the early Syriac church as an apostle and brother of Jesus (some early traditions state “twin” brother of Jesus).

“His disciples said to Him, ‘When will the Kingdom come?’ [Jesus said], ‘It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying “Here it is” or “There it is.” Rather, the Kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it.’ Simon Peter said to them, ‘Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of Life.’ Jesus said, ‘I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.'”

Sayings 113-114, Gospel of Thomas

In this gospel, the mother of Jesus is referred to by the disciples as “your mother,” thus the Mary to whom Peter is referring would be Mary of Magdala. Ancient traditions reveal Peter’s jealousy of Mary of Magdala because Jesus taught her inner, subtle truths the disciples could not yet understand. Mary of Magdala was destined to become a revered teacher of the truths taught to her by Jesus.

THE DIALOGUE OF THE SAVIOR

Jesus is teaching Miriam, Matthew, and Judas

“Miriam” = Greek for Mary

The Dialogue of the Savior is a question and answer session between Jesus and Miriam, Matthew, and Judas.

Miriam responds to Jesus: “Thus about ‘the wickedness of each day,’ and ‘the laborer being worthy of his food,’ and ‘the disciple resembling his teacher.’ This word she spoke as a woman who knew the All.”

Portion of #139 – The Dialogue of the Savior

“Miriam said, ‘Tell me, Lord, why I have come to this place, to benefit or to suffer loss?’ The Lord said, ‘Because you [singular] reveal the greatness of the revealer.'”

Portion of #140 – The Dialogue of the Savior

THE GOSPEL OF PETER

Peter, the disciple of Jesus, is generally accepted by scholars as the author of this gospel. It was likely written during the second half of the 1st century C.E. (A.D.) in Syria.

“Early in the morning of the Lord’s day Mary Magdalene, a woman disciple of the Lord—for fear of the Jews, since [they] were inflamed with wrath, she had not done at the sepulcher of the Lord what women are wont to do for those beloved of them who die—took with her women friends and came to the sepulcher where he was laid.” Portion # 12 – The Gospel of Peter

Peter assumes that it is Mary of Magdala who has the responsibility to come to the tomb and “do for those beloved of them who die.” The other women appear to have accompanied Mary of Magdala at her request, as a means of protection.

THE GOSPEL OF MARY MAGDALENE

The current edition of the gospel of Mary Magdalene makes up the first part of the so-called Berlin Papyrus. It is written in Sahidic Coptic. The 1st edition of this gospel dates approximately 150 C.E. (A.D.) and is accepted by scholars to have been inspired by Mary of Magdala, if not actually penned by her.

“Having said all this, he departed….  Then Mary arose, embraced them all, and began to speak to her brothers: ‘Do not remain in sorrow and doubt, for his Grace will guide you and comfort you. Instead, let us praise his greatness, for he has prepared us for this. He is calling upon us to become fully human.’ Thus Mary turned their hearts toward the Good, and they began to discuss the meaning of the Teacher’s words.”

Page 9, verses 5, 12-20 – The Gospel of Mary

Upon Jesus’ departure, Mary of Magdala becomes the teacher.

“Peter said to Mary: ‘Sister, we know that the Teacher loved you differently from other women. Tell us whatever you remember of any words he told you which we have not yet heard. Mary said to them: ‘I will now speak to you of that which has not been given to you to hear.'”

Page 10, verses 1-9 – The Gospel of Mary

Jesus taught Mary of Magdala about the “seven demons” from which the gospel of Luke (chapter 8) states Mary was healed by Jesus.

“Freed from this third climate, the soul continued its ascent, and found itself in the fourth climate. This has seven manifestations. The first manifestation is Darkness; the second, Craving; the third, Ignorance; the fourth, Lethal Jealousy; the fifth, Enslavement to the Body; the sixth, Intoxicated Wisdom; the seventh, Guileful Wisdom.”

Page 16, verses 1-10 – The Gospel of Mary

Note that these seven demons are characteristic of the temptations encountered by the soul during its initiatory process and reveal a soul that is journeying toward spiritual maturity. The soul can be healed from these seven demons.

“The soul answered: ‘That which oppressed me has been slain; that which encircled me has vanished; my craving has faded, and I am freed from my ignorance. I left the world with the aid of another world; a design was erased, by virtue of a higher design. Henceforth I travel toward Repose, where time rests in the Eternity of Time; I go now into Silence.’ Having said all this, Mary became silent, for it was in silence that the Teacher spoke to her.”

“Then Andrew began to speak, and said to his brothers: ‘Tell me, what do you think of these things she has been telling us? As for me, I do not believe that the Teacher would speak like this. These ideas are too different from those we have known.’ And Peter added: ‘How is it possible that the Teacher talked in this manner with a woman about secrets of which we ourselves are ignorant? Must we change our customs, and listen to this woman? Did he really choose her, and prefer her to us?'”

Jesus promised, as stated in the gospel of Thomas, to make Mary a “male.” Jesus is giving Mary the role of “male” by teaching his disciples through her.

“Then Mary wept, and answered him: ‘My brother Peter, what can you be thinking? Do you believe that this is just my own imagination, that I invented this vision? Or do you believe that I would lie about our Teacher?’ At this, Levi spoke up: ‘Peter, you have always been hot-tempered, and now we see you repudiating a woman just as our adversaries do. Yet if the Teacher held her worthy, who are you to reject her? Surely the Teacher knew her very well, for he loved her more than us. Therefore let us atone, and become fully human so that the Teacher can take root is us. Let us grow as he demanded of us, and walk forth to spread the gospel, without trying to lay down any rules and laws other than those he witnessed.'”

Page 18, verses 1-21 – The Gospel of Mary

THE GOSPEL OF PHILIP

The gospel of Philip reads more like the orthodox catechisms of the 2nd thru the 4th centuries. The Greek text was written as late as the 2nd half of the 3rd century C. E. (A.D.)-around 250 C.E.-most likely in Syria.

“There were three who always walked with the lord: Mary his mother and her sister and Magdalene, the one who was called his companion. His sister and his mother and his companion were each a Mary.”

Section 59 – The Gospel of Philip

“And the companion of [.] Mary Magdalene. [.] loved her more than [all] the disciples [and used to] kiss her [often] on her [.]. 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 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.'”

Section 64 – The Gospel of Philip

Jesus confirms that Mary of Magdala could see the light; the disciples remained in darkness. It is interesting to note that Section 59 states: “For it is by a kiss that the perfect conceive and give birth. For this reason we also kiss one another. We receive conception from the grace which is in one another.”

“If the woman had not separated from the man, she should not die with the man. His separation became the beginning of death. Because of this Christ came to repair the separation which was from the beginning and again unite the two, and to give life to those who die as a result of the separation and unite them.”

Section 70 – The Gospel of Philip

Male and female – “again unite the two” – metaphysicians teach that twin flames are once more to come together as “two halves of the same soul.”

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Jesus stated, in the gospel of Thomas, that he would himself make Mary of Magdala into a “male.”  Could he also mean the re-uniting of twin flames? According to metaphysicians, Mary of Magdala (known in spirit as Nada) and Jesus (known in spirit as Sananda) are twin flames.

Jesus/Sananda                         Mary of Magdala/Nada

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CHURCH HISTORY NOTE: “Mary of Magdala’s identity as a prostitute stems from Homily 33 of Pope Gregory I, delivered in the year 591, in which he declared that she and the unnamed woman in Luke 7 are, in fact, one and the same, and that the faithful should hold Mary as the penitent whore.”

Saint Augustine and the biblical apostles called Mary of Magdala the “apostle of apostles.”

In 1969, the Catholic Church officially repealed Pope Gregory’s designation of Mary Magdalene as a whore, thereby admitting their error. Even though the Catholic Church now calls her Saint Mary Magdalene, many Christians continue to think of her as the woman who sinned.

(Preface by David Tresemer, Ph.D. and Laura-Lea Cannon, The Gospel of Mary Magdalene)

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A second article will follow entitled “Mary Magdalene – the Mysterious One” in which we will look at her true identity from additional points of view.

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OPENING THE CHAKRAS

I received a private question that I am choosing to answer on my blog because it is so important.  The question involved feeling discomfort around the heart chakra following a meditation done for the purpose of opening the chakras.

As a former teacher of metaphysics, I encouraged students to focus on cleansing rather than opening the chakras.  Chakras naturally open as we seek to cleanse our energetic bodies—physical, emotional, and lower mental—of negativity.  To concentrate on opening the chakras prematurely is dangerous activity.

The kundalini energy resting in the Root Chakra at the base of the spine is extremely powerful energy.  To have it rise prematurely can cause serious damage to the nervous system and open your conscious awareness to a point you are unprepared to handle effectively.   As we cleanse our energetic field, the kundalini energy flows naturally through the chakras without causing damage.  The experience of pain or discomfort comes because the kundalini energy has encountered negative blocks of energy within the chakra area.

You can find a summary of holistic spiritual growth including a listing of the seven major chakras and their positive/negative expressions on my website at:  http://www.pathwaytoascension.com/lessons.html I strongly encourage anyone desiring to grow spiritually to study these two lessons.

Negative energy cannot move into the 5th dimension of ascension consciousness.  For this reason, we must cleanse our energetic bodies.  It is slower work, but has to be done.

The criticism I have regarding meditations for the purpose of opening the chakras is that they attempt to skip required steps.  Sure, you may open them prematurely and experience moments of a world of unparalleled beauty and love; however, the need to cleanse all negativity remains.  The cleansing process must be accomplished if you want a higher level of consciousness to be your permanent state of being.  I go into this in the metaphysical lessons on the above site.

As you will see in the lessons, cleansing your energetic field is to also heal yourself.  Our physical bodies are the outpicturing of what we think and feel.  Thoughts actually congeal into form.  For examples – the paintings below are those of a clairvoyant who could see the aura encircling a human being.

An aura filled with anger

Aura filled with the prickly fingers of fear.

The ability to see the aura is why animals can sense (or see) our fear, our illness, etc.

(Paintings taken from CW Leadbeater’s MAN: VISIBLE & INVISIBLE)

Spiritual growth can be very exciting, but cleansing is a necessary step.  The lessons include techniques for doing so, with a special emphasis on using the Purple Transmuting Flame—God’s gift of grace.