IN THE intriguing sleuthing of the mystery shrouding the role of Mary Magdalene in the life of Jesus Christ, there are contrasting voluminous written versions about her.
Controversy abounds Mary Magdalene, who, more often than not, is ill-defined as the "companion" of Jesus Christ and portrayed as one of the demimonde of her time. The fictional account of Magdalene as the wife of Jesus in monstrous bestseller of Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code, created a furor among the Christians and many deemed the novel as sacrilegious.
Preceding Brown's opus was the controversial novel of Nikos Kazantsakis: The Last Temptation of Christ. It was made into a movie in 1988 by recently Oscar-awarded director Martin Scorsese, but was totally banned, condemned and vilified in most Christian countries. Though a fiction, it was a smashing bestseller and dazzled millions of readers. It was a shocking fascination in depicting the very intimate relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus Christ.
If we have to take into account the Gnostic Gospel of Philip, which is not included in the traditional Holy Bible, including the Jerusalem Bible, the romantic link between the Son of God and Mary Magdalene had been inspired by said gospel that depicted the relationship, thus, we have this observation: "But Christ loved her more than all the disciples and
used to kiss her often on the mouth. The rest of the disciples were offended by it and expressed disapproval. They said to him, 'Why do you love her more than all of us?' The Saviour answered and said to them, "Why do I not love you as I love her?" ("The Templar Revelation" by Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince, p. 65, Simon & Schuster, 1998)
With the discovery in 1945 of fifty-two papyrus texts hidden in an earthen jar in the vast Egyptian desert, now known as the Dag Hammadi, and the earlier Dead See Scrolls seem to heighten the controversy surrounding the participation of Mary Magdalene among the members of the orthodox community, outside of the Gnostic circles.
The Gospel of Philip narrated the bitter rivalry between the male disciples and Mary Magdalene. Among those who was most vocal against her was Peter described by Levi as hot-tempered. The latter told Peter that if "the Savior made her worthy, who are you, indeed, to reject her? Surely the Lord knew her very well. That is why he loved her more than us." The antagonism between Peter and Mary Magdalene extended as to the role of women in the church that the "bishop is to be father figure of the congregation" and "no woman shall be allowed to become a priest". This merely follows the orthodox pattern that God is described in exclusively masculine patterns. ("The Gnostic Gospels" by Elaine Pagels, Phoenix, 1979)
On matters relative as to the issue of the first person to whom Jesus Christ appeared after his resurrection, it was contended by the German scholar Hans von Campenhausen that it was Peter, hence, the rightful leader of the Church. Another tradition maintained that James, not Peter nor Mary Magdalene was the "first witness of the resurrection". The Gospels of Mark and John on the basis of the New Testament point out that it was Mary Magdalene who was the first person to witness the rising of the Lord Jesus Christ to Heaven. On Matthew's account, Jesus Christ announced to the eleven disciples as "official witnesses" and later on to complete the original twelve disciples, they invited Matthias who was given qualification and recognition. The foregoing accounts contradicted what has been written in the Gospel of Mary. There was no doubt that when the Lord Jesus was crucified, his disciples were disheartened and "terrified" after the crucifixion. Again Peter was having his tantrums when informed that Jesus Christ talked privately with the woman from Magdala. Despite his rage, Mary Magdalene told him: "My brother Peter, what do you think? Do you think that I thought this up myself in my heart, or that I am lying about the Saviour?"
The unusual role of Mary Magdalene in the life of Jesus Christ and in the company of the twelve disciples shall continue to generate controversy as to her actual relationship with the Son of God. Who knows that more of the "secret" accounts about Jesus Christ's life shall be unearthed in the near future and some gray areas in the different gospels may yet be ascertained and reconciled with other controversial accounts? Perhaps, one of the most sensible issues would refer to the elimination of the other Gospels from the Old and New Testament, such as those of Thomas, Philip, Mary, and others?
Why so riotous a debate as to ascertain the personality of Mary Magdalene when during the time of Christ many scribes were men and they maybe thought that a woman didn't belong to their kind as humans? Just maybe. But there is one and only truth: A mother will always be a woman. And to pose a question that all humans sprang from Mary Magdalene is like dousing gas to the fire already blazing so many faiths. What happened to Eve, by the way?