The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2003-11-01
  • Publisher: Polebridge Pr Westar Inst
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From the Publisher Lost for more than fifteen hundred years, the Gospel of Mary is the only existing early Christian gospel written in the name of a woman. Karen L. King tells the story of the recovery of this remarkable gospel and offers a new translation. This brief narrative presents a radical interpretation of Jesus' teachings as a path to inner spiritual knowledge. It rejects his suffering and death as a path to eternal life and exposes the view that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute for what it is a piece of theological fiction. The Gospel of May of Magdala offers a fascinating glimpse into the conflicts and controversies that shaped earliest Christianity. Includes complete photos of the Berlin Codex, Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 3525, and the Rylands Papyrus Publisher's 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. (Nov.) Forecast: The unexpected popularity of the novel The Da Vinci Code has boosted sales of various religion books that deal with the Gnostic gospels-Elaine Pagels's bestseller Beyond Belief and different translations of the Gospel of Thomas. The Da Vinci effect may well work its esoteric magic here, even though this is clearly not a book for the dilettante. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Author Biography

Karen L. King is the Winn Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Harvard University in the Divinity School.

Table of Contents

Preface vii
Abbreviations & Sigla ix
Part I The Gospel of Mary
1. Introduction
2. Translation & Text
3. Gospel, Revelation, Dialogue
Part II The Savior's Teaching in the Gospel of Mary
4. The Body & the World
5. Sin, Judgment, & Law
6. The Son of Man
7. Vision & Mind
8. The Rise of the Soul
9. Controversy over Mary's Teaching
Part III The Gospel of Mary in Early Christianity
10. The Jesus Tradition
11. Paul
12. The Gospel of John
13. The Apostles
14. The History of Christianity
Notes 191(22)
Terms & Sources 213(3)
Works Cited 216(11)
Index of Citations 227

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