Q1. Submitted by ostaris:

Without question, Mary Magdalene was the most important female discipleand apostle in Jesus' group of followers. The Gospels of Mary and Phillipintimate that there may even have been a much deeper relationship betweenJesus and Mary. Do you think it's possible that Jesus and Mary were lovers or even married? If not, why would he have conveyed information only to her and excluded the others?

I definitely do not believe that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were lovers. I think that Jesus singling her out as a messenger of the resurrection on Easter morning had a far greater significance. The societal setting was patriarchy--the rule of adult males. Only men had the right to public "voice," and women were not allowed to testify in courts of law. To put it graphically, if one man killed another, and the only witnesses were 500 women, no one saw it from a legal point of view. This is why the Bible constantly calls attention to the plight of the widow and the orphan, those who lack an adult male to take up their cause in public settings.

Jesus challenged that system on Easter morning. When he told Mary to "go tell the brethren," he was telling her to be the bearer of evidence, a witness. On Pentecost, this would be extended more generally, when Peter said that the old prophecy was now being fulfilled, that "your sons and daughters will prophesy."

This line of interpretation makes good sense--certainly better sense than speculation about a sexually intimate relationship.

Q2. Submitted by anonymous:

I question the statement that Jesus was probably not buried, based on how the Romans usually left the criminal hang to be eaten by animals. I believe Scripture that Jesus was buried and rose from the grave. Why would historians of today state otherwise? I had an unsettling [feeling] after viewing this show, not because of what I believe, but because of the way they portrayed Jesus as a mere political figure.

I have a similar feeling. I do not believe Jesus' ministry should be understood primarily in political terms. It is clear to me that he made claims about himself that offended his contemporaries--claims that he was a heaven-sent savior, that his many acts of healing and his teachings fit a larger pattern of presenting himself as a unique king whose authority did not come from any earthly political process but originates in his status as messiah.

I do believe that it is important to use various kinds of scholarly tools in studying the Gospel accounts. But, like you, I also worry that sometimes these tools are being used in a negative, destructive manner, rather than as instruments that will enlarge our understanding of the power of the Son of God.

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