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The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle Paperback – January 1, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
The Gospel of Mary of Magdala, a second-century gospel that was discovered in the 19th century and not published until 1955, shows Mary to be the apostle (yes, apostle) to whom Jesus revealed deep theological insights. King, a professor at Harvard Divinity School and author of What Is Gnosticism?, argues that the Gospel prefers inner spiritual knowledge to exterior forms such as the law and that it reveals some of the gender conflicts and spiritual divisions of the early Christian movement. King places translations of two extant fragments of the Gospel of Mary side by side, so readers can see the slight differences that appear in the originals. (Because approximately 10 pages of the Gospel are still lost, scholars believe we only have about half of its original material.) In the brief text, the male apostles are afraid and despondent after Jesus' post-resurrection departure, so Mary tries to cheer them by revealing some of the esoteric teachings that Jesus imparted to her alone. But the teachings cause discord, as Peter and others refuse to believe that Jesus would have given such "strange ideas" to a woman. ("Did he choose her over us?" a petulant Peter asks.) The bulk of King's book takes up various issues raised by the text-questions about the Son of Man, law, women's authority, visionary experiences and the body. This is a serious scholarly study with the apparatus of an academic book, including Coptic facsimiles of the papyrus, and Coptic and Greek phrases sprinkled throughout the text.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
This is a rich, rewarding, and eyeopening review of how the only gospel written in the name of a woman can reveal the depth and diversity of the early Christian community. Strongly recommended ... --Library Journal
Best faith books of 2003 ... accessible and fascinating ... This book will have special appeal to those interested in history and whose devotion to the New Testament has them searching for a deeper understanding of the origins of Christian scripture. --St. Louis Post Dispatch
Karen King s Gospel of Mary of Magdala is a book that many readers are waiting for a complete translation of the Gospel of Mary together with a lucidly written, marvelously informative discussion of where it comes from and what it means. --Elaine Pagels, Harrington Spear Paine Foundation Professor of Religion at Princeton University
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By Karen L. King
Get out your dictionary as Professor King turns the eight pages of the Gospel of Mary into 190 with words such as: interlocutor, eschatological, exegetical, tendentiously, anachronistically, hegemonic, and many more. It's an education and she certainly is an educator!
This extraordinarily comprehensive book allows us every insight not only to the three incomplete and parallel gospels of Mary Magdalene, but of the historical and philosophical context in which they were written.
Professor King introduces us to three separate discoveries of gospels attesting to the revelations of Jesus to his most enlightened follower, Mary of Magdala; discoveries that took place in northern Egypt.
No date or circumstance is given surrounding the discoveries of the Oxyrynchus manuscripts, yet it is astounding that ancient texts, in different languages, hundreds of miles and hundreds of years apart tell the same story; Mary Magdalene was the one truly enlightened by Jesus and chosen to guide the others.
King gives us a detailed history of the early movements of Judeo-Christianity and its offshoots, of the influence of the Greek philosophers Plato and the Stoics. Curiously, there is no mention of the Cynics, a 500BC Hellinistic cult, that foreswore materialism, and lived in the streets, without shoes or worldly goods. And more curiously still is the absence of any of the persecutions of the early Christians at the hands of the Romans.
The misogynistic attitudes of Paul, Plato, Tertullian, and the disciples as they relate to the "place" of women at this time in history is appalling to the modern mind, i.e., (Paul) "Women must remain silent and subordinate." (Plato) "Cowardly and unrighteous men will return to this world as women." But why should we be shocked? This is still common in the Middle-East and in practices closer to home. What's shocking is that this belief system is the foundations of a dogma spread in the modern world to 2.1 billion Christians. King clearly sets forth misconceptions of the role of female spiritual leadership as a "product of jealousy and deep misunderstanding of the Savior's intentions."
Throughout several chapters King compares the Gospel of Mary to all other known Christian texts: the New Testament Gospels, Thomas, Philip, the Pistis Sophia. Many of these share commonalities with one another, but the Gospel of Mary is entirely unique in composition. The Gospel of Mary's interpretation of Son of Man is never to Jesus but to the true Child of Humanity within each and every one of us. Gender is relative only to the world of matter, which will cease. There is no value seen in punishment or suffering, nor is there any notion of hell, and God is referred to only as The Good.
The greatest atrocity of the Catholic Church against the woman who was Jesus' companion was the edict of Pope Gregory the Great (590-604) stating that Mary of Magdala was a prostitute. In a 1969 footnote in ecclesiastical history, the Vatican apologized.
A detailed and thorough account of Mary Magdalene. This is the ultimate guide to the woman Jesus chose above the others.
By Elizabeth Wallace author & illustrator of Jesus Christ In His Own Words:
a Compilation of the Canonical and Gnostic Gospels.Jesus Christ In His Own Words
Thanks, Karen it is a lovely book.