Most helpful positive review
310 of 318 people found the following review helpful
THe apostle to the apostles
on December 30, 2003
Even in the canonical gospels Mary from Magdala was a remarkable woman. She followed Jesus, witnessed the crucifixion, saw the empty tomb and was one of the first, if not the very first person, the risen Christ appeared to. In Karen King's translation of the Gospel of Mary, she is no less remarkable.
Incomplete, brief and based on three fragments from the 5th and 3rd centuries the Gospel of Mary reveals what Andrew refers to as "strange ideas." In a dialogue first between the risen Savior and disciples, and then between the disciples themselves about a vision of Jesus and teachings revealed to Mary alone ideas are presented that are unique to this gospel although there are clearly echoes of these ideas in other sacred writings. For example, there is a distinction made between the material body and the soul with the true self defined as the soul alone. Sin exists only when the soul is distracted by passions of the body and therefore is estranged from spiritual concerns. The familiar, "seek and you will find" is interpreted as the need to seek inwardly to discover the spiritual that is within us all.
The teachings from Mary's vision of Christ are disputed by Andrew and denied by Peter who says he does not believe that Christ would tell a woman what he did not reveal to men. Levi confronts Andrew and Peter affirming that Mary is spiritually mature and as worthy as anyone. Levi then heeds the direction given by Jesus to go and teach the word.
Ms. King discusses the changing role of women in the early church and the gradual establishment of the canonical gospel. Perhaps most interesting of all, she emphasizes the variety and diversity of early church writings and beliefs reminding us that our religious heritage is much more unsettled and unsettling than out view from the present looking backwards may suggest.