Gospel of Mary Magdaleneby Jean-Yves Leloup
Perhaps no figure in biblical scholarship has been the subject of more controversy and debate than Mary Magdalene. Although she is discussed in the gospels of Philip, Thomas, Peter, and Bartholomew in the collection of writings known as the Gnostic gospels that were rejected by the early Christian church, there is no better insight into this mysterious and
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Perhaps no figure in biblical scholarship has been the subject of more controversy and debate than Mary Magdalene. Although she is discussed in the gospels of Philip, Thomas, Peter, and Bartholomew in the collection of writings known as the Gnostic gospels that were rejected by the early Christian church, there is no better insight into this mysterious and influential woman than Mary's own gospel. The gospel text and the spiritual interpretation of Leloup together reveal unique teachings that emphasize the eminence of the divine feminine and an abiding love of nature over the dualistic and ascetic interpretations of Christianity presented elsewhere. What emerges from this important source text - the first complete English-language translation of the original Coptic Gospel of Mary - and line-by-line commentary is a renewal of the sacred feminine in the Western spiritual tradition and a new vision for Christian thought and faith throughout the world.
May/June 2002 <%COMM_GRP%>
"Leloup's commentary presents a scholarly translation with an inspirational and passionate interpretation. . . . Going beyond the gospels to the laws of the Torah and the philosophical writings of Kant, the author at once discovers the truer meanings of an ancient text and a message as important today as it was two millennia ago."
"One welcomes this solid telling of the story and meaning of a neglected text at the root of Christian wisdom, and of a neglected figure who had a special relationship both with the historical Jesus in his lifetime and with the Christ spirit after the death of Jesus."
"Readers will welcome this perceptive translation of the Gnostic 'Gospel of Mary' and the insightful commentary by scholar-mystic Jean-Yves Leloup. The journey of the soul and other profound and subtle teachings of Jesus and his beloved Miriam will enlighten modern seekers."
"There are some fascinating glimpses at gender politics between the earliest followers of Jesus and the enigmatic personage of Mary Magdalene. Christians have come to think of her (with no basis in biblical fact) as the repentant prostitute, while to his followers she was the one Jesus loved 'differently from other women.'"
"He sets the record straight and provides ample commentary on where the historical records went astray."
"I love this gospel . . . it speaks such truth as the Church desperately needs in these times."
"Powerful, almost Taoist in range, this is an important book and should be read by anyone interested in Mary Magdalene or the early Church."
"The commentary by Professor LeLoup is beautifully done. He is indeed a scholar of the earth Church."
" . . . the Magdalene's gospel might be embraced by contemporary seekers, both Christian and non-Christian."
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from the Introduction:
Although historians of early Christianity now have many gospels in their catalogues, those of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John remain the best known. For most churches, they are still the only ones authorized to communicate to us the echoes and interpretations of the events and teachings that took place in Galilee and Judaea about twenty centuries ago.
The recent discovery in 1945 of the library of Nag Hammadi in Upper Egypt has enabled us to broaden our horizons and enrich our knowledge of certain aspects of Christianity that had previously been hidden or suppressed by the orthodoxies. The gospels contained in this library are written in the Sahidic Coptic language (the word Copt comes from the Arabic qibt, which in turn is a contraction of the Greek Aiguptos, or Egypt). Most of them are attributed to direct disciples of the Galilean rabbi Yeshua, considered by some to be the Messiah foretold by Hebraic scriptures, by others as a prophet or a teacher, and by still others as the universal Savior.
Today we are able to study these other gospels of Philip, Peter, Bartholomew, and most especially of Thomas, right alongside those of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. As with some other gospels that came later, it has been established that the Gospel of Thomas (Thomas being also the name of the evangelist of India whose tomb is believed to be in Madras) contains certain logia, or simple sayings, that are likely to be older than the revisions of the canonical texts, and may have been skillfully used by the editors of the latter.
Among these other gospels, which have recently become much better-known, there is one that does not seem to have attracted the attention it deserves from specialists and is still practically unknown to the public at large. It is the Gospel of Mary, attributed to Miriam of Magdala (Mary Magdalene). Because she was the first witness of the Resurrection, she was considered by the apostle John as the founder of Christianity, long before Paul and his vision on the road to Damascus.
By all apostolic accounts, Yeshua of Nazareth himself was certainly not a founder of any "ism," nor of any institution. He was the Annunciator, the Witness, and some would go so far as to say the Incarnation of the possible reign of the Spirit in the heart of this space-time, the manifestation of the Infinite in the very heart of our finitude, the voice of the Other within the speech of human-ness.
The Gospel of Mary comprises the first part of the so-called Berlin Papyrus. This manuscript was acquired in Cairo by C. Reinhardt, and has been preserved since 1896 in the Egyptology section of the national museum of Berlin. It probably came from the area of Akhmin, since it first appeared in an antique shop in that town. According to C. Schmidt, this copy was made in the early fifth century. The papyrological analysis of the manuscript was done by W. C. Till, following the work of C. Schmidt, and then corrected and completed by H. M. Schenke. The scribe wrote down twenty-one, twenty-two, or twenty-three lines per page, with each line containing an average of twenty-two or twenty-three letters. Several leaves are missing from the document: pages 1 to 6, and 11 to 14. This renders its interpretation particularly difficult.
Like the other writings in the Berlin Papyrus, and also like the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary is written in Sahidic Coptic, with a number of dialectical borrowings. Several faulty transcriptions and other errors have been discerned in the writing.
As to the dating of the original text upon which the copy was based, it is interesting to note that there exists a Greek fragment, the Rylands papyrus 463, whose identity as the precursor of the Coptic text has been confirmed by Professor Carl Schmidt. This fragment comes from Oxyrhynchus and dates from the beginning of the third century. The first edition of the Gospel of Mary, however, would likely be older than this, that is, from sometime during the second century. W. C. Till places it around the year 150. Therefore it would seem, like the canonical gospels, to be one of the founding or primitive texts of Christianity.
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Jean-Yves Leloup is the founder of the Institute of Other Civilization Studies and the International College of Therapists. His other books include Absurdity and Grace, Lack and Fullness, and a commentary on the Gospel of Thomas. He lives in France.
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It is always interesting to look at the scriptures which were rejected by the early church leaders. In this instance it seems that two of the more threatening elements are probably the special emphasis placed on the Presence to be discovered and allowed to grow within us as well as the central position accorded to Mary Magdalene. The format of the text is done in a highly readable style. You don't have to be an academic to understand it. The commentary is particularly good. The author highlights both the unique aspects of this gospel and also its similarities to the four canonical Gospels. Anyone interested in learning more about Mary Magdalene and the development of early Christianity will enjoy reading THE GOSPEL OF MARY MAGDALENE.
I got this book as a Christmas gift from my sister, and I didn't put it down until it was finished. The first part of the book is the actual gospel. The second part is a verse by verse commentary, which was extremely helpful. It provides a rare glimpse into early Christianity.
The explanations by the Author make this book easier to understand. It requires the reader to medidate on the meanings behind the teachings.
This is an excellent book whatever your persuasion might be. It depicts a side of Mary Magdalene generally unknown and allows you to be the judge of the material. My recommendation is to take this book, and a good bible such as the New Oxford Annotated Bible containing the Apocrypha, and as you read the Gospel compare with the Bible just to really see what you might have overlooked when reading the Bible for the Twentieth time. I guarantee you that Mary will come alive and become a feeling person as you make this comparison. Do not forget the Annotations which are definitely worth your reading at the same time. Read the Gospel of Mary and pay close attention to the alabaster jar with the Spikenard preservative into which Jesus' circumcision ring went and then later when Mary Magdalene annoints Jesus' using an alabaster jar and ointment. Read carefully how Jesus himself said that she would be remembered for the good service that had been done for him and that she would be remembered wherever the good news was later proclaimed. Little did Jesus know that men were going to find a way to write women out of the program. The reality is that she is hardly remembered at all and then, I am finding, mostly in a negative sense that I cannot find in the Bible. See Mark 14.8-9 for reference. If you are not anti-female, you will love this book. Don't miss it.
The recent hoopla about Mary Magdalena is connected to the popularity THE DA VINCI CODE. If you¿re looking for an academic treatment on Mary Magdalene and this Gospel, this isn¿t it. This is a theological treatment of esoteric Christianity for esoteric Christians. This gospel, which was NOT part of the Nag Hammandi find, is very small and incomplete. Most of this book is an incredible but over-intellectualized explanation of the short Gospel and suppositions about Mary Magdalena by a JeanYves Deloup and translated by Joseph Rowe. So we are getting an English translation of a French version of a Coptic text. Rowe was given the task of translation by artists/writers David Tressemer and Laura-Lee Cannon; these two recommend pseudo-academic books such as HOLY BLOOD, HOLY GRAIL, Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince¿s THE TEMPLAR REVELATION: SECRET GUARDIANS OF THE TRUE IDENTITY OF CHRIST, and THE CULT OF THE BLACK MADONNA by Ean Begg. It is fascinating how these books feed on each other. The Gospel of Mary Magdalena itself can be found on the Internet. For a different and possibly more enlightening look at Mary Magdalene and her gospels try THE GOSPEL OF MARY OF MAGDALA: JESUS AND THE FIRST WOMAN APOSTLE by Karen L. King or THE GOSPELS OF MARY: THE SECRET TRADITION OF MARY MAGADALENE, THE COMPANION OF JESUS by Marvin W. Meyer. Leloup and company should not be your only source and the Gospel of Mary Magdalene shouldn¿t be the only Gnostic texts you read. -- Leslie Strang Akers.
one must have an open mind when reading this. one must understand that we don't know everything that happen 2000+ years ago because we were not there. this book just gives another more man-like views of the man we know as Jesus.