Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Mary Magdalene

While searching for depictions of Mary Magdalene for this post, I came across this beautiful painting of Mary and Jesus. I don't know who the artist is because it was not credited, but it's from the website by the
I've been interested in Mary Magdalene for a long time but you know, there's not a lot of facts out there about her. The Bible is not a good source. She's mentioned more in the Gnostic Gospels particularly, of course, in the Gospel of Mary Magdalene but also in The Gospel of Thomas, Pistis Sophia and The Gospel of the Egyptians (the latter of which I have not read).
I bought myself a small icon pendent of St. Mary Magdalene for my birthday along with one of Jesus. I've been thinking on them quite a lot. If you've read the Gnostic Gospels, you learn that Mary claimed to have been given certain spiritual knowledge by Jesus and, when she tried to share it with the other disciples, they started dissing on her, asking why Jesus would have told things to her-a woman!-he didn't tell them. Basically, they discounted her because she was a woman.
The more I think about this story, the more I know that the reason she, of all the people in Jesus' circle, was chosen is because-not in spite of-she was a woman. When a person is outside of what is the cultural norm, that person often has fewer "boxes" to break out of (boxes/illusion/assumptions/egotraps). Mary was a woman in a culture in which to be a women was to be less than to be a man. The male disciples came from several different backgrounds, some wealthier, some working class, some not-so-nice, but they all had the "benefit" of being men; they were insiders by nature of their gender. Mary was obviously intelligent, compassionate, curious, a good listener and a quick student and she had the gender perspective of being outside the norm so she could hear Jesus' lessons and truths with fresh ears ("those who have ears, let them hear"). She was open, literally, to his teachings.
Something I was listening to a couple of weeks ago got me thinking about Logos=Word and Sophia=Wisdom. I was thinking about how Jesus was the Word made incarnate, the Breath of Life. I am a word person; I always score incredibly high on tests of verbal ability. I know, though, that words, logic, are only half of it. Wisdom, intuitive right knowing, is the other half. I'm finding it interesting to think about Jesus and Mary balancing the two things. That whole male/female logic/intuition thing. In the Gospel of Philip, it is written, "As for the Wisdom...she is the mother of the angels. And the companion of the [...] Mary Magdalene".
I've got Joni Mitchell's song, "Passion Play (When All the Slaves Are Free)" in my head today:
Magdalene is trembling
Like a washing on a line
Trembling and gleaming
Never before was a man so kind
Never so redeeming
Enter the multitudes
In Exxon blue
In radiation rose
Ecstasy
Now you tell me
Who you gonna get to do the dirty work
When all the slaves are free?
(Who're you gonna get)
I am up a sycamore
Looking through the leaves
A sinner of some position
Who in the world can this heart healer be
This magical physician
Enter the multitudes
In Exxon blue
In radiation rose
Misery
Now you tell me
Who you gonna get to do the dirty work
When all the slaves are free?
(Who're you gonna get)
Enter the multitudes
The walking wounded
They come to this diver of the heart
Of the multitudes
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done
Oh, climb down, climb down he says to me
From the middle of unrest
They think is light is squandered
But he sees a stray in the wilderness
And I see how far I've wandered
Enter the multitudes
In Exxon blue
In radiation rose
Apathy
Now you tell me
Who you gonna get to do the dirty work
When all the slaves are free?
(Who're you gonna get)
Enter the multitudes
The walking wounded
They come to this diver of the heart
Of the multitudes
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done
Oh, all around the marketplace
The buzzing of the flies
The buzzing and the stinging
Divinely barren
And wickedly wise
The killer nails are ringing
Enter the multitudes
In Exxon blue
In radiation rose
Tragedy
Now you tell me
Who you gonna get to do the dirty work
When all the slaves are free?
(Who're you gonna get)

1 comment:

Allison said...

I love the Gospel of Mary!

One of my questions about the Bible is how historically accurate it was. There was a diversity of interpretations on Jesus' life back then just as there is now. Is it any wonder that the political process deemed the Gospel of Mary unfit for the Bible? After all, it did hold Mary up as an equal to the disciples, or even higher with her special understandings of Jesus' teachings...