Beloved Disciple: The Misunderstood Legacy of Mary Magdalene, the Woman Closest to Jesus

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Mary Magdalene was the woman healed of her possession by seven devils and was the first to see the risen Jesus on Easter Day. Was she also the reformed prostitute who washed Jesus's feet with her tears? Was she the sister of the raised Lazarus? Did she marry Jesus? And did she become a leader of the early churches, despite the opposition of Simon Peter (who later became the first pope)? For centuries Mary Magdalene has been shrouded in mystery, but in Beloved Disciple renowned scholar Robin Griffith-Jones cuts ...

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Overview

Mary Magdalene was the woman healed of her possession by seven devils and was the first to see the risen Jesus on Easter Day. Was she also the reformed prostitute who washed Jesus's feet with her tears? Was she the sister of the raised Lazarus? Did she marry Jesus? And did she become a leader of the early churches, despite the opposition of Simon Peter (who later became the first pope)? For centuries Mary Magdalene has been shrouded in mystery, but in Beloved Disciple renowned scholar Robin Griffith-Jones cuts through the confusion to bring this extraordinary figure back to startling, fascinating life.

Griffith-Jones examines New Testament accounts, ancient Gnostic sources, such as the Gospel of Mary, as well as medieval and Renaissance accounts of Mary's life and travels in the years following her discovery of Jesus's empty tomb on Easter morning. Beloved Disciple addresses questions about Mary and Jesus that have long stirred passionate debate, exploring the roles and power of men and women in the early churches—issues that still haunt the Church.

Illustrated with some of the most beautiful images of this enigmatic figure ever produced, this book puts the tantalizing fragments of information we have of Mary back into their original context: the vital stories in which Mary plays a part. Beloved Disciple shows us Mary as a model of discipleship and, through the lens of her life, offers a fresh perspective on the New Testament gospels and the Gnostic stories, to reveal them as we have never seen them before.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Beloved disciple or whore? Was Mary of Magdala married to Jesus? Was she a leader of the early church? Why did Jesus appear to Mary first and instruct her to tell the other disciples about his resurrection? In a brilliant and beautifully written book, Griffith-Jones, master of the Temple Church in London, explores these and other questions. He cannily reads the canonical Gospels side by side and then introduces the Gnostic Gospels of Thomas and Mary, among others, in search of a portrait of the historical Mary Magdalene. Griffith-Jones traces Mary's reputation in the medieval world, using medieval paintings and other artistic images, as well as the writings of mystics such as Bernard of Clairvaux, to show how Mary became an object of veneration during the Middle Ages. He concludes this elegant study by observing that Mary Magdalene stands in for the reader of John's gospel, who must go through the whole drama of the gospel in order finally to see what Mary sees in the garden on Easter Day. (Sept.)

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Library Journal

Here, Griffith-Jones (Master of the Temple Church, London; The Four Witnesses: The Rebel, the Rabbi, the Chronicler, and the Mystic) takes a trendy Da Vinci Code topic and provides the scriptural and historical background that gave writers like Dan Brown license to cast Mary Magadalene as Jesus's presumed wife. Following a Gospel survey paying special attention to John's treatment of Mary, Griffith-Jones turns his focus to Gnostic works of the second and third centuries, and herein lies the work's primary strength. Unlike Susan Haskin in the impressive cultural history Mary Magdalene: Truth and Myth, Griffith-Jones here situates Mary in the canonical Christian scripture and then demonstrates Gnosticism's imaginative use of Mary as a site of incarnational theology, sexual dimorphism, and Sophia/Wisdom in creation. In the last chapter, he considers her evolution in aesthetic and cultural terms, with illustrations charting her evolution from repentant prostitute into an eroticized sexual figure embodying physical intimacy with the risen Christ. In Mary, claims Griffith-Jones, we glimpse our fundamental striving to understand what it means to be an embodied human being. An accessible read whose greatest usefulness is its Gnostic analysis; recommended.
—Sandra Collins

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061191992
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/9/2008
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Robin Griffith-Jones taught New Testament for several years at Oxford University and is currently a visiting lecturer at King's College, London University. He serves in one of the most historic positions in the Anglican Church, that of Master of the Temple in London, the famous church of the Knights Templar (www.templechurch.com). Griffith-Jones is the author of The Four Witnesses (on the four gospels), The Gospel According to Paul, and The Da Vinci Code and the Secrets of the Temple.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Pt. 1 Mary of Magdala in the New Testament

1 With Jesus in Galilee 3

2 At Jesus's Death and Resurrection 13

3 In Paradise 35

Pt. 2 Toward the Gnostic Magdalene

4 Making Mary Male 51

5 Not a Christian, but a Christ 75

6 Wisdom, Eve, and Mary Magdalene 91

7 United in the Bridal Bedroom 109

8 The Gospel of Mary 133

9 Faith-Wisdom 151

Pt. 3 The Travels of Mary Magdalene

10 From the Magdalene to La Madeleine 173

11 The Nuptials of God 209

App. A Jesus and the Sinful Woman 235

App. B The Gnostics and the Female Powers of Creation 241

Notes 245

Suggestions for Further Reading 267

Index of Passages 269

Index of Subjects and Names 277

Acknowledgments 287

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