The Meaning of Mary Magdalene: Discovering the Woman at the Heart of Christianity

The Meaning of Mary Magdalene: Discovering the Woman at the Heart of Christianity

by Cynthia Bourgeault


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Mary Magdalene is one of the most influential symbols in the history of Christianity—yet, if you look in the Bible, you’ll find only a handful of verses that speak of her. How did she become such a compelling saint in the face of such paltry evidence? In her effort to answer that question, Cynthia Bourgeault examines the Bible, church tradition, art, legend, and newly discovered texts to see what’s there. She then applies her own reasoning and intuition, informed by the wisdom of the ages-old Christian contemplative tradition. What emerges is a radical view of Mary Magdalene as Jesus’s most important disciple, the one he considered to understand his teaching best. That teaching was characterized by a nondualistic approach to the world and by a deep understanding of the value of the feminine. Cynthia shows how an understanding of Mary Magdalene can revitalize contemporary Christianity, how Christians and others can, through her, find their way to Jesus’s original teachings and apply them to their modern lives.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781590304952
Publisher: Shambhala
Publication date: 09/14/2010
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 58,373
Product dimensions: 6.94(w) x 11.28(h) x 0.81(d)

About the Author

Cynthia Bourgeault, PhD, is an Episcopal priest, teacher, and retreat and conference leader. She is the author of several books, including Chanting the Psalms and Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Part 1 Mary Magdalene as Apostle

1 Mary Magdalene in the Canonical Gospels 3

2 The Woman with the Alabaster Jar 17

3 The "Gnostic" Gospels 30

4 The Gospel of Mary Magdalene 43

5 Dying and Rising 57

6 Winners and Losers 74

Part 2 Mary Magdalene as Beloved

7 Reclaiming the Path of Romantic Love 85

8 The Great Identity Theft 98

9 The Path of Conscious Love 111

10 The Bridal Chamber 126

11 Jesus and Mary Magdalene in the Bridal Chamber 139

12 Substituted Love 148

Part 3 Mary Magdalene as Unitive Wisdom

13 First Apostle 163

14 The Alchemical Feminine 169

15 Anointing and Anointed 181

16 Why France? 191

17 The Wisdom Mary Magdalene 206

Appendix 1 Mary Magdalene and the Song of Songs 221

Appendix 2 The Anointing according to John 233

Appendix 3 The Passion of Mary Magdalene 241

Notes 243

Index 275

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