Mary Magdalene's Secret

Was she a Benjamite heiress destined to carry on a sacred bloodline?

Continued from page 2

Under the conditions of the Roman occupation of Israel, the Holy Family would have been kept secret and protected at all costs by the royalist faction in Palestine. It seems obvious that after the crucifixion of Jesus, Mary Magdalen was no longer in Jerusalem. there is no mention of Mary, Martha, or Lazarus in the Book of Acts or in Paul's letters. In any case, it is unlikely that Mary would ever have been identified as the widow of Jesus. The danger would have been too great. It seems more likely that these special friends of Jesus were no longer part of the community in Jerusalem at the time Paul's letters were written (C.E. 51-63), but their departure is unexplained. If they had been aprt of that community following the Ascension of Jesus, their names might have been mentioned in the later New Testament works that were declared canonical.

Instead, post-Ascension references to Mary Magdalen occur only in the Gnostic Gospels (of which ancient Coptic scrolls were found in Nag Hammadi in 1945 and in other sites in Egypt), texts that confirm that Mary Magdalen was an intimate companion of Jesus. The Gospel of Philip says: "There were three who walked with the Lord at all times: Mary his mother, her sister, and Magdalen, the one who is called his companion." Mary Magdalen is described in this Gnostic gospel found at Nag Hammadi as having aroused the jealousy of the Apostles because she was the close companion or "consort" of the Lord, who often kissed her on the mouth.

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It is clear from the four canonical Gospels that Mary Magdalen enjoyed special precedence in the community of believers, since she was the first person to see and speak to Jesus on Easter Sunday, having hurried to his tomb at first light to perform embalming rites for his dead body. There are seven lists in the four Gospels that name the women who accompanied Jesus. In six of the seven, the name of Mary Magdalen is given first--ahead of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and ahead of the other women mentioned. The Gospel writers, beginning with Mark, are most likely reflecting the status of the Magdalen in the Christian community--that of First Lady.

It has been the consensus of Christians for nearly two thousand years that [Jesus] was no mere magician. He was an earthen vessel filled with the Spirit of God. And it was this powerful charisma that so inevitably led to his crucifixion as a political incendiary and to the desperate flight of his immediate family from Jerusalem.

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