If you follow me on Facebook, you might have noticed the recent flurry of posts I have shared from the book, Mary Magdalene Revealed, that has captivated my attention; so much, that I actually read this book twice! And I took notes. Then I felt compelled to post quotes from the book on Facebook. And today, I sit and write this newsletter post because something inside tells me that Mary Magdalene and her book may have a helpful message for you as well.
I don’t know quite why I feel so drawn to this book about Mary Magdalene especially since I was raised in a traditional Hindu household and all I know about her is based on the famous Jesus of Nazareth television miniseries that aired in the late 1970s. Yes, the one with that haunting melody. The actor who played Jesus had those piercing blue eyes; at times it felt like he was seeing right through you but seeing something that could not be seen by the physical eyes. And in those series, Mary Magdalene is depicted as a prostitute. Yet she is also the first one to ‘see’ Jesus after his resurrection.
Meggan Watterson, the author of Mary Magdalene Revealed, is a Harvard-trained theologian. Drawing upon her research and that of her colleagues, Meggan shows how Mary was not only not a prostitute, but very likely Jesus’ companion, and a prominent Jewish woman who was a benefactress of his ministry. She may even be considered the first apostle because while accompanying Jesus, she was able to fully grasp his teachings and find an inner spiritual authority that had nothing to do with external dogma or institutionalized religion. Jesus appeared to her first after his resurrection because she was open to perceiving the Christ within; so, she was also the “apostle of the apostles,” since she first brought this news to the other apostles.
Mary Magdalene understood Jesus’ teachings in a way that even the other apostles did not. But this was threatening to the patriarchal culture typical of those times. Even the apostles doubted her. Why would Jesus appear to her, a woman, instead of them? Meggan shares how even though Mary Magdalene was a leading apostle in the earliest Christian movement, eventually, her gospel was ordered to be burned and destroyed by the existing church elders around 367AD, along with other scriptures such as the Gospel of Thomas and Gospel of Philip. However, a group of rebel Copt* monks chose to secretly preserve these scriptures (which demonstrated a very different version of Christianity) by burying them in urns deep in the Egyptian desert and others in a cave. The Gospel of Mary, the only gospel written under a woman’s name, would not be rediscovered until the late 1800s, and not printed until 1955.
In my next post, I will share more, but for now, allow yourself to sit with this beautiful quote from the book:
“If I could start again, I would install an altar within me. I would place the most sacred object inside it: my own heart. If I could start again, I would know that the only cathedral I’ve ever needed to find, to enter, to return to again and again, is this humble red hermitage, this mystical space that holds all the answers. I would begin again inside my heart. And I would live this way. Speaking from it.”
*Image of angel from felixartstudio.com
*Copts are an ethnic and religious group that are native to Northeast Africa and mostly live in modern Egypt where they are the largest Christian denomination in the country.