Jesus christ: “i loved mary magdalene very much”
alongside Jesus at the Last Supper?
RACHEL Our mobile unit is located today in what was once Magdala, the town that was home to Mary Magdalene, as her name itself testifies. Now there is nothing left of the town but ruins. Again we have with us Jesus Christ, coming for a second time to earth and revisiting these places for the first time.
JESUS I came through here when this city was very lively. The Capernaum folks used to bring their fish here, where they salted it and then sold it all about the country. It was a city that had some famous rich people, and therefore also many poor folk.
RACHEL It was here that you met Mary Magdalene?
JESUS Yes, I met her here. She was very poor.
RACHEL Can you tell us the circumstances?
JESUS Well, she was a woman who lived alone. In my time women who were on their own, such as widows and wives rejected by their husbands, had a very tough life.
RACHEL What about her work? According to tradition, she was a prostitute.
JESUS That’s pure gossip. Sadly, women who were on their own always had to put up with the burden of a bad reputation. I remember that day… After walking along the shore of the lake, we arrived here in Magdala with John and Andrew. That was when I met Mary. She listened keenly and heard the message of God’s Reign.
RACHEL Was that after you cast the demons out of her?
JESUS What demons! Gossipmongers! People were saying that she had not one, but seven demons in her body. Since Mary was a strong woman and spoke her mind clearly, people invented tales about her.
RACHEL I imagine you must have heard that they’ve written a lot about the relations between you and Mary Magdalene. Are those just tales also?
JESUS Well, I don’t know what they’ve written, but … How should I tell you? She took part in our movement, she went everywhere with us, she was passionate about God’s Kingdom. Finding Mary was like finding a pearl of great value. Her eyes gave light to her whole body. She was full of joy. For her the Kingdom was a banquet, a great feast.
RACHEL You remember her with great affection.
JESUS I loved to talk with her. I confided many things to her. Andrew, John, James, and especially Peter used to get jealous.
RACHEL Look, Jesus, I am going to say some things that maybe… Well, I’ll just say them! And they’re not things I found in any novel or in The DaVinci Code.
JESUS The what code?
RACHEL To prepare for this interview I read some of those apocryphal gospels, the ones that don’t appear in our Bible. And one of them says that Mary Magdalene was your companion, that you kissed her on the mouth. I’ve also read that that “beloved disciple” who appears so much in John’s gospel was in reality a “beloved discipless”, the woman you loved most.
JESUS Well, in fact, all that was written in memory of her.
RACHEL But did you… did you love her?
JESUS Yes, I loved her very much.
RACHEL You loved her … as a woman?
JESUS What do you want to know, Rachel? If I went to bed with her?
RACHEL Please pardon me the question. I understand that it’s rather indiscrete, but there’s so much mystery about your relation with Mary Magdalene.
JESUS Love is always a mystery. It’s for that reason that God, the greatest Love, is the greatest of mysteries.
RACHEL So you and she… that is, between the two of you…?
JESUS In my land they say, “Among three people there are no secrets.” Don’t ask any more questions, Rachel, there’s no need.
RACHEL Ahem… From the ruins of the city where Jesus of Nazareth and Mary of Magdala met for the very first time, this is Rachel Perez of Emisoras Latinas.
ANNOUNCER Another God is Possible. Exclusive interviews with Jesus Christ in his second coming to Earth. A production of María and José Ignacio López Vigil, with the support of the Syd Forum and Christian Aid.
*More information about this polemical topic…*
Saint Mary Magdalene
While eastern Christianity has traditionally honored Mary Magdalene for her closeness to Jesus and considers her “equal to the apostles”, in the West the idea developed that Mary, before knowing Jesus, had worked as a prostitute, and she was identified with other “sinful” women who appear in the gospels (Luke 7,36-50).
The image of a repentant and penitent Mary Magdalene has dominated western art and literature. In 1969 the Catholic Church, which recognizes her as a saint, removed from its liturgical calendar the designation “penitent”, which had traditionally been applied to her, and stopped using that Lukan gospel text in the masses. Despite these changes the vision of Mary Magdalene as the repentant prostitute still prevails.
A woman vindicated
Mary was born in the city of Magdala, on the shores of Sea of Galilee, and she is mentioned by name four times in the synoptic gospels (Mark, Matthew and Luke). Tradition has identified her with several anonymous women and with other “Marys” who appear in the gospel accounts.
The fact that Mary Magdalene is presented as the first witness of the resurrection of Jesus in the fourth gospel (John 20,1-18) indicates the importance of this woman in the Jesus movement and in the earliest Christian community. Nowadays almost all serious exegesis rejects the idea that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute and stresses the exceptional role this woman played in the life of Jesus. Some rather bold hypotheses are put forward, for example, that she was the author of the fourth gospel, usually attributed to the apostle John; or that “the beloved disciple” mentioned in the fourth gospel was in reality “the beloved discipless”; or, most controversially, that she was Jesus’ lover.
Author of the fourth gospel and “beloved discipless”
The Catholic priest Ramón K. Jusino has developed the theory that Mary Magdalene was the author of the fourth gospel and that the “beloved disciple” mentioned several times in that text was not John, but Mary. Jusino bases his hypothesis on a book written by the Catholic theologian and biblical scholar Raymond E. Brown, who proposes that this gospel represents the tradition of a very early community of followers of Jesus that was led by Mary Magdalene. Both Jusino and Brown draw on texts from the apocryphal gospels to corroborate their theories.
See: Raymond Brown, The Community of the Beloved Disciple: The Life, Loves and Hates of an Individual Church in New Testament Times (Paulist, 1978).
Mary Magdalene in the apocryphal gospels
The four gospels included in the New Testament were composed from accounts that were originally transmitted orally and only afterwards written down. Other “gospels” (that is, texts describing the message and deeds of Jesus) evolved in the same way. In 1945 a large collection of early Christian codices were discovered in Nag Hammadi (Egypt); most of them were Gnostic texts (“gnosis” means knowledge in Greek), and included among them were several so-called Apocryphal Gospels (“apocryphal” means they are not recognized as part of the official canon of the New Testament).
These texts were rejected by the Church Fathers in the first centuries of the Christian era since they were not considered “orthodox”, that is, they were not thought to be authentic and trustworthy. Mary Magdalene is given more prominence in these texts than in the synoptic gospels. The “Gospel of Philip” mention her as the “companion” of Jesus: There were three persons who walked continually with the Lord: his mother Mary, her sister, and Magdalene, who was called his companion. Another fragment of that same gospel reads thus: And the companion of the Savior is Mary Magdalene. He loved her more than any of his followers and kissed her on the mouth. The rest of his followers saw how he loved Mary and said to him: Why do you love her more than you love any of us?
Included among the apocryphal gospels is also the “Gospel of Mary Magdalene”, which stresses the important role this woman played and mentions how the male disciples rejected her because of her closeness to Jesus: When Mary had said this, she fell silent, since it was to this point that the Savior had spoken with her. But Andrew answered and said to the brethren, “Say what you wish to say about what she has said. I at least do not believe that the Savior said this. For certainly these teachings are strange ideas.” Peter answered and spoke concerning these same things. He questioned them about the Savior: “Did he really speak secretly with a woman without our knowledge? Are we to turn about and all listen to her? Did he prefer her to us?”
Then Mary wept and said to Peter, “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 Savior?” Levi answered and said to Peter, “Peter, you have always been hot-tempered. Now I see you contending against the woman as the adversaries do. But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her? Surely the Savior knows her very well. That is why he loved her morethan us. Rather let us be ashamed and put on the perfect man and acquire him for ourselves as he commanded us, and preach the gospel, not laying down any other rule or other law beyond what the Savior said. Whenthey finished discussing, they began to go forth to proclaim and to preach the gospel according to Mary.
A valuable hypothesis
We should consider quite valuable all the theological and literary hypotheses that highlight so beautifully and so justly the role that Mary Magdalene played in the life of Jesus (among the best known are Nikos Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation and Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code). Although we will never be able to prove whether Mary was the wife of Jesus or not, or whether any children were born of such a union, we recognize this hypothesis and take it into account because it opens up a magnificent path to questioning and rejecting the traditional misogyny of the Christian churches, especially the Catholic Church. Furthermore, it leads us to a vital reflection: What would really change in Jesus’ message, what would change in the revolutionary idea of God that Jesus proclaimed, if he had been the sexual partner of Mary, the woman from Magdala?