The Gospels of Mary: The Secret Tradition of Mary Magdalene, the Companion of Jesus

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Overview

Collected together for the first time are the original Gospel of Mary, one of the "Gnostic Gospels," and three other secret texts that reveal the significant role Mary Magdalene played in Jesus' inner circle of disciples.

This is a new translation of the Gospel of Mary, as well as Meyer's translations of significant portions of other Gnostic gospels and texts in which Mary Magdalene plays a major part, including the Gospel of Philip, the Gospel of Thomas, Dialogues with the ...

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Overview

Collected together for the first time are the original Gospel of Mary, one of the "Gnostic Gospels," and three other secret texts that reveal the significant role Mary Magdalene played in Jesus' inner circle of disciples.

This is a new translation of the Gospel of Mary, as well as Meyer's translations of significant portions of other Gnostic gospels and texts in which Mary Magdalene plays a major part, including the Gospel of Philip, the Gospel of Thomas, Dialogues with the Saviour, and Pistis Sophia. Also included are the passages in the New Testament Gospels that feature Mary Magdalene, and they can now be read in a whole new light. Cumulatively, these texts reveal a vibrant oral tradition in which Mary Magdalene is not only a follower of Jesus but his companion and closest disciple.

The book will include lively historical introduction by Meyer, and an interpretive essay by Karen King at Harvard Divinity School, the foremost expert on the Gospel of Mary, whose translation and commentary on the Gospel of Mary is being published by an academic press in October '03.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
This slender volume collects new translations of the original Gospel of Mary and key portions of other Gnostic Gospels that reveal Mary Magdalene's significant role in Jesus' inner circle. Meyer, who previously edited The Gospel of Thomas, also includes New Testament passages that feature Mary Magdalene. Cumulatively, these texts reveal an alternative tradition that present Mary as not only a follower of Jesus but as his companion and closest disciple.
Library Journal
A foremost authority on the Nag Hammadi manuscripts, Meyer is a prolific author on noncanonical texts relating to Jesus. His most recent book was The Gnostic Bible, which included several texts referring to Mary Magdalene. The current volume compiles extracanonical and Gospel texts about the Magdalene, Meyer's commentary, and an essay by Esther De Boer (Mary Magdalene: Beyond the Myth) about Magdalene's importance to early and modern Christianity. In the Gospel of Mary, Magdalene outshone the male disciples and was entrusted with special teachings that some of the men opposed. She was also the first to see and proclaim the empty tomb and the risen Master. Weekly newsmagazines, a spate of academic works, and Dan Brown's best-selling The Da Vinci Code highlight the growing fascination with Mary Magdalene's place in the Jesus movement. Meyer's book rides that wave, offering expert commentary that, while relatively short, shows how texts about Mary bring out contemporary roles of women and the diversity of understandings about Jesus's message. Other works on this topic, such as Karen King's The Gospel of Mary of Magdala, have greater depth. Recommended for public and academic libraries as a basic text that should be supplemented with works by King and others.-William P. Collins, Library of Congress Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780641933127
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/14/2006
  • Pages: 122
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Marvin Meyer is one of the foremost scholars on early Christianity and texts about Jesus outside the New Testament. He is Griset Professor of Bible and Christian Studies at Chapman University in Orange, California. Among his recent books are The Gospel of Judas, The Gnostic Gospels of Jesus, The Gospels of Mary, The Gospel of Thomas, and The Nag Hammadi Scriptures.

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Read an Excerpt

The Gospels of Mary

The Secret Tradition of Mary Magdalene, the Companion of Jesus
By Marvin Meyer

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright ©2006 Marvin Meyer
All right reserved.

ISBN: 006083451X

The Gospels of Mark, Matthew,
Luke, John, and Peter

The Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John are the four New Testament Gospels, and the Gospel of Peter is a related fragmentary Gospel. All five Gospels were apparently composed during the last decades of the first century C.E. Among the New Testament Gospels, it is generally assumed that the Gospel of Mark was written first, around 70 C.E., and that the Gospels of Matthew and Luke were written a decade or two later and made use of a version of the Gospel of Mark as one of their major literary sources, along with the sayings source Q, a source similar to the Gospel of Thomas. The Gospel of John was written around 90 C.E., and it differs rather substantially from the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke. Nonetheless, there are points of connection between Mark and John in particular, and all four New Testament Gospels narrate a story of Jesus that emphasizes the crucifixion and its aftermath. So does the Gospel of Peter, which also announces the good news -- the gospel -- of the cross.

Mary Magdalene figures rather significantly in the New Testament Gospels and the Gospel ofPeter. In Luke 8 (and the longer ending of the Gospel of Mark) she is said to be one of the women whom Jesus restored to social, mental, or spiritual health, and it is reported that he cast seven demons from her. There she is in the company of other women who are followers of Jesus, and Luke depicts Mary Magdalene and friends as independent women who travel with Jesus and provide support for the Jesus movement. Mark 15:40-41, written prior to Luke, uses different language and may allude to the women as disciples.

In all the New Testament Gospels it is said that Mary Magdalene is present at the cross and at the tomb of Jesus. In Luke there is only the general statement, in the context of the crucifixion account, that the acquaintances of Jesus and the women from Galilee were standing at a distance. Mary Magdalene's prominence is highlighted by the fact that ordinarily she is mentioned first in lists of women around Jesus. John 19:25 is an exception to this pattern, and two or three women are referred to ahead of Mary, but these women seem to be relatives of Jesus. According to Mark 15 and Matthew 27, Mary Magdalene and another woman named Mary saw the burial place of Jesus (again Luke gives a more general statement). It is maintained in all five gospels -- Mark, Matthew, Luke, John, and Peter -- that Mary Magdalene, often in the company of other women (though not in John), comes early on Sunday morning to the tomb of Jesus. In Mark 16 Mary and the women see a youth in the tomb; in Matthew 28 they are frightened by an apocalyptic angel; in Luke 24 they are greeted by two men in dazzling clothes.

The very first of all the followers of Jesus to experience the risen Christ, according to Mark 16 (the longer ending) and John 20, is Mary Magdalene. According to Matthew 28, Mary Magdalene and "the other Mary" share the experience. In John 20 the account of the encounter between Mary and Jesus is emotional and the exchange of words is tender. Jesus' command that Mary not touch him has sparked a goodly amount of discussion, with several possible interpretations. This command may show the concern of Jesus (and the author of the Gospel) with the unclean nature of Jesus' body, since he died so recently, or with Jesus' need to return to the father, or with matters having to do with sexuality.

The scene in the Gospel of John seems to express such intimacy that it may recall the description of a woman seeking her lover in Song of Songs 3:1-5:

Night after night on my bed
I dreamed of my lover.
I was looking for him
but could not find him.
"So I shall rise and wander through the city,
down streets and through markets.
I shall look for my lover."
I looked but could not find him.
The watchmen came upon me
as they patrolled the city.
I asked, Have you seen my lover?
No sooner had I left them
than I found my lover.
I held him, I would not let him go,
till I brought him to my mother's house,
to the chamber of her who conceived me.

Promise me, daughters of Jerusalem,
by the gazelles and swift deer of the field,
that you will not arouse, will not awaken my love,
until love is ready.

The selections from Mark, Matthew, Luke, John, and Peter translated here feature texts that specifically and unequivocally concern Mary Magdalene. Other texts that portray the unnamed woman who is said to be a woman of sin and who washes Jesus' feet with her tears, dries them with her hair, kisses them, and anoints them with perfume (Luke 7:36-50), an unnamed woman who anoints Jesus at Bethany (Mark 14:1-9), and Mary of Bethany (Luke 10:38-42; John 11:1-5, 17-20, 28-35; 12:1-8) are also included as additional stories about women around Jesus. These stories may be related to each other in some way, but they are not about Mary Magdalene. Some interpreters, however, have attempted to link these unnamed women and Mary of Bethany to Mary Magdalene, and for that reason these texts are also presented here, though they are placed separately after the selections on Mary Magdalene. The selections from the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke, John, and Peter are given one after another in a series of translations. They should not be harmonized into a single account; their differences reflect the differing perspectives of the several authors.

Continues...


Excerpted from The Gospels of Mary by Marvin Meyer Copyright ©2006 by Marvin Meyer. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Introduction vii
Chapter 1 The Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke, John, and Peter (selections) 1
Chapter 2 The Gospel of Mary 16
Chapter 3 The Gospel of Thomas (selections) 23
Chapter 4 The Gospel of Philip (selections) 36
Chapter 5 The Dialogue of the Savior (selections) 54
Chapter 6 Pistis Sophia (selections) 64
Chapter 7 The Manichaean Psalms of Heracleides 70
Chapter 8 "Should We All Turn and Listen to Her?": Mary Magdalene in the Spotlight, by Esther A. de Boer 74
Notes 97
Bibliography 116
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First Chapter

The Gospels of Mary
The Secret Tradition of Mary Magdalene, the Companion of Jesus

The Gospels of Mark, Matthew,
Luke, John, and Peter

The Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John are the four New Testament Gospels, and the Gospel of Peter is a related fragmentary Gospel. All five Gospels were apparently composed during the last decades of the first century C.E. Among the New Testament Gospels, it is generally assumed that the Gospel of Mark was written first, around 70 C.E., and that the Gospels of Matthew and Luke were written a decade or two later and made use of a version of the Gospel of Mark as one of their major literary sources, along with the sayings source Q, a source similar to the Gospel of Thomas. The Gospel of John was written around 90 C.E., and it differs rather substantially from the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke. Nonetheless, there are points of connection between Mark and John in particular, and all four New Testament Gospels narrate a story of Jesus that emphasizes the crucifixion and its aftermath. So does the Gospel of Peter, which also announces the good news -- the gospel -- of the cross.

Mary Magdalene figures rather significantly in the New Testament Gospels and the Gospel of Peter. In Luke 8 (and the longer ending of the Gospel of Mark) she is said to be one of the women whom Jesus restored to social, mental, or spiritual health, and it is reported that he cast seven demons from her. There she is in the company of other women who are followers of Jesus, and Luke depicts Mary Magdalene and friends as independent women who travel with Jesus and provide support for the Jesus movement. Mark 15:40–41, written prior to Luke, uses different language and may allude to the women as disciples.

In all the New Testament Gospels it is said that Mary Magdalene is present at the cross and at the tomb of Jesus. In Luke there is only the general statement, in the context of the crucifixion account, that the acquaintances of Jesus and the women from Galilee were standing at a distance. Mary Magdalene's prominence is highlighted by the fact that ordinarily she is mentioned first in lists of women around Jesus. John 19:25 is an exception to this pattern, and two or three women are referred to ahead of Mary, but these women seem to be relatives of Jesus. According to Mark 15 and Matthew 27, Mary Magdalene and another woman named Mary saw the burial place of Jesus (again Luke gives a more general statement). It is maintained in all five gospels -- Mark, Matthew, Luke, John, and Peter -- that Mary Magdalene, often in the company of other women (though not in John), comes early on Sunday morning to the tomb of Jesus. In Mark 16 Mary and the women see a youth in the tomb; in Matthew 28 they are frightened by an apocalyptic angel; in Luke 24 they are greeted by two men in dazzling clothes.

The very first of all the followers of Jesus to experience the risen Christ, according to Mark 16 (the longer ending) and John 20, is Mary Magdalene. According to Matthew 28, Mary Magdalene and "the other Mary" share the experience. In John 20 the account of the encounter between Mary and Jesus is emotional and the exchange of words is tender. Jesus' command that Mary not touch him has sparked a goodly amount of discussion, with several possible interpretations. This command may show the concern of Jesus (and the author of the Gospel) with the unclean nature of Jesus' body, since he died so recently, or with Jesus' need to return to the father, or with matters having to do with sexuality.

The scene in the Gospel of John seems to express such intimacy that it may recall the description of a woman seeking her lover in Song of Songs 3:1–5:

Night after night on my bed
I dreamed of my lover.
I was looking for him
but could not find him.
"So I shall rise and wander through the city,
down streets and through markets.
I shall look for my lover."
I looked but could not find him.
The watchmen came upon me
as they patrolled the city.
I asked, Have you seen my lover?
No sooner had I left them
than I found my lover.
I held him, I would not let him go,
till I brought him to my mother's house,
to the chamber of her who conceived me.

Promise me, daughters of Jerusalem,
by the gazelles and swift deer of the field,
that you will not arouse, will not awaken my love,
until love is ready.

The selections from Mark, Matthew, Luke, John, and Peter translated here feature texts that specifically and unequivocally concern Mary Magdalene. Other texts that portray the unnamed woman who is said to be a woman of sin and who washes Jesus' feet with her tears, dries them with her hair, kisses them, and anoints them with perfume (Luke 7:36–50), an unnamed woman who anoints Jesus at Bethany (Mark 14:1–9), and Mary of Bethany (Luke 10:38–42; John 11:1–5, 17–20, 28–35; 12:1–8) are also included as additional stories about women around Jesus. These stories may be related to each other in some way, but they are not about Mary Magdalene. Some interpreters, however, have attempted to link these unnamed women and Mary of Bethany to Mary Magdalene, and for that reason these texts are also presented here, though they are placed separately after the selections on Mary Magdalene. The selections from the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke, John, and Peter are given one after another in a series of translations. They should not be harmonized into a single account; their differences reflect the differing perspectives of the several authors.

The Gospels of Mary
The Secret Tradition of Mary Magdalene, the Companion of Jesus
. Copyright © by Marvin W. Meyer. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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  • Posted May 3, 2009

    Religion studies

    EVer since I have taken religion courses @ UNCG, I have become intrigued by the various books available on the books of the bible or stories about Mary.

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