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Mary Magdalene WAS The Wife Of Jesus – Apostle Series Article: Women ARE Equals To Men

As a result of a previously published ezine article – Reflections:-Talking-to-Self-and-to-God-Can-Yield-Some-New-Revelations—the-Feast-of-Women-and-Health – and other writings, I have had several persons on Myspace (and other Cyber Sites) innitiate contact with me to dispute my belief that Mary Magdalene WAS the wife of Jesus.

Hense – this follow-up article:

From other respected authors – comes the basis of my belief. Although their references are not published in this article – due to maximum word length article bank’s restrictions – one can find them by searching out the originals.

PBS “From Jesus To Christ” – This FRONTLINE series is an intellectual and visual guide to the new and controversial historical evidence which challenges familiar assumptions about the life of Jesus and the epic rise of Christianity.

“One of the mysteries of the Gospel of John is the identity of the disciple Jesus loved. Modern exegetes have offered a number of suggestions as to the identity of the tantalizingly anonymous let the peace of god rule in your heart figure: John Mark, John the son of Zebedee, John the Elder, Apollos, Paul, a Paulinist, Benjamin, Judas Iskariot, Philip, Nathanael, Judas Jesus’ brother, Matthias, a disciple of the Baptist, Thomas, an Essene monk from Jerusalem, Lazarus, Andrew, or a symbolic figure, representing the Johannine community, the Hellenistic brand of the Church or the ideal Christian disciple. [2] The historical figures which have been suggested vary widely, but they have one thing in common: they are all men. Only recently has another suggestion been put forward.

“Ramon K. Jusino, in his article ‘Mary Magdalene: Author of the Fourth Gospel?’ argues in favor of the possibility that Mary Magdalene could be the Beloved Disciple of the Gospel of John. In his view, Mary Magdalene, who is called the disciple most loved by Jesus in the Gospel of Philip and the Gospel of Mary, [3] is in the Gospel of John, after first being mentioned by name, deliberately turned into the anonymous and male Beloved Disciple. In the two instances where Mary Magdalene’s name could not be avoided, namely in John 19,25-27 and 20,1-11, the redactor added the Beloved Disciple to make sure that Mary Magdalene and he would be interpreted as two different people. [4]

Jusino suggests, on the basis of the widely respected research of Raymond E. Brown on the Johannine Community, [5] that this was done as part of a later process. [6] According to him, the female beloved disciple is made anonymous and male to be acceptable to mainstream ideology. Brown argues that the Johannine community in a very early stage became divided because of a christological argument. The more heterodox believers defended a very high christology, whereas the more orthodox believers wanted to be part of the mainstream emerging Church which defended Jesus’ corporeality. To those wanting to take part in the growing institutional Church, Jusino argues, ‘the claim that a female disciple of Jesus had been their community’s first leader and hero quickly becomes an embarrassment’. [7] According to him, the other, more heterodox believers of the community held on to their tradition. This is the reason why Mary Magdalene in various heterodox writings appears to be the one loved most by Jesus. Jusino supports his argument by showing where and how the redaction of the text was done. Again, drawing on Brown, he shows that especially in 19,25-27 and 20,1-11, where Mary Magdalene and the male beloved disciple occur together, there are inconsistencies in the text, which reveal the hand of a redactor. [8] In my view, however, there are no significant inconsistencies in these texts.

In this article [9] I want to argue, like Jusino, that Mary Magdalene is concealed in the male anonymous disciple, but, unlike Jusino, my argument does not draw on the Gospel of Mary or the Gospel of Philip nor on Brown’s research on the Johannine community. My argument is not one of a redactional nature, revealing a repressive environment from outside, but is rather based on the Gospel of John considered as a meaningful unity. [10] In my view, a repressive atmosphere with regard to women is fundamental to the Gospel of John as a whole, disclosing a repressive environment within the Johannine community, which corresponds to the one outside. This article, however, does not pretend to offer a final solution to the major problem of the identity of the anonymous disciple Jesus loved. It is presented as one possibility among others and is meant to contribute to the on-going debate. Taking into account the numerous and very different scholarly solutions that have been offered this far, one can only conclude that, if, indeed, the Gospel of John wanted the disciple Jesus loved to remain anonymous, at least to outsiders, the author has proved to be very successful.

1. John 19,25-27

The idea, that Mary Magdalene could perhaps be identified as the disciple Jesus loved, first entered my mind, while I was studying John 19,25-27. If one considers this pericope as a meaningful unity, [11] the interpretation, which views 19,25 as a parallelism and suggests that two women are standing under the cross, instead of four or three, [12] seems the most logical one, verse 25 introducing what happens in verses 26 and 27. In these latter verses John describes Jesus as seeing two persons: his mother and the disciple he loved. This coincides with the interpretation that John in verse 25 also only means two people: the mother of Jesus, for the first time mentioned here by name as Mary of Clopas now that she is on the verge of losing her identity as a mother, and her sister-in-law or niece, Mary Magdalene. There would have been no one else there. The description of the two women also fits perfectly with a peculiar Johannine trait that William Watty discerned: the Gospel’s ‘massive effort at precision’ when introducing places or persons, not only giving names as such, but also several connections with other places or persons. [13]

So far my main objection against this conjecture was that the disciple Jesus loved in John is obviously grammatically male. [14] But if anonymity in the case of the disciple Jesus loved was so important to the author of John, would indeed the use of masculine gender not guarantee the anonymity in a better way than the use of feminine gender, which would obviously reveal to the readers at least one important feature of the disciple, namely that she is a woman? It also occurred to me that a woman being referred to as male perhaps was not so strange at the time, as it would be to us now. Grace M. Jantzen showed that spirituality in early Christianity gradually became identified with maleness. [15] She gives several examples of the fact that ‘women whose spirituality was beyond question were described as honorary males’. [16] She also gives examples of cases of cross-dressing. With regard to Mary Magdalene there is a tradition which speaks of her maleness. In the Gospel of Thomas Jesus promises Peter that he will lead Mary Magdalene 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.’ [17] In the Acts of Philip the Savior praises Mary Magdalene for her manly character. Because of this he gives her the task of joining the weaker Philip on his mission journey. But she is not to join him as a woman. ‘As for you, Mary,’ he says, ‘change your clothing and your outward appearance: reject everything which from the outside suggests a woman.’ [18]

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