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Mary Magdalene

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"Mary Madeline" redirects here. For the American political activist, see Mary Matalin.
This article is about a biblical figure. For other uses, see Mary Magdalene (disambiguation).
Mary Magdalene

Penitent Mary Magdalene by Nicolas Rgnier,Palace on the
Water, Warsaw
Born Date unknown
Place unknown
Died Date unknown
Place: possibly Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-
Baume, Ephesus, Asia Minor

Eastern Orthodoxy
Roman Catholic Church
Anglican Communion
other Protestant churches
Bah' Faith
Feast July 22
Attributes Western: alabaster box of ointment
Eastern: container of ointment (as a myrrhbearer), or
holding a red egg (symbol of the resurrection);
embracing the feet of Christ after the Resurrection
Patronage Apothecaries; Kawit, Cavite; Atrani, Italy; Casamicciola
Terme, Ischia; contemplative life; converts; glove
makers; hairdressers; penitent sinners; people ridiculed
for theirpiety; perfumeries; pharmacists;
reformed prostitutes; sexual temptation; tanners; women
Mary Magdalene (original Greek ),
or Mary of Magdala and sometimes The
Magdalene, is a religious figure in Christianity. She is usually thought of as the second-most
important woman in the New Testament after Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Mary Magdalene traveled
with Jesus as one of his followers. She was present at Jesus' two most important moments: the
crucifixion and the resurrection.
Within the four Gospels, the oldest historical record mentioning her
name, she is named at least 12 times,
more than most of the apostles. The Gospel references
describe her as courageous, brave enough to stand by Jesus in his hours of suffering, death and

In the New Testament, Jesus cleansed her of "seven demons",
[Lk. 8:2]

[Mk. 16:9]
sometimes interpreted
as referring to complex illnesses.
Mary was most prominent during Jesus' last days. When Jesus
was crucified by the Romans, Mary Magdalene was there supporting him in his final moments and
mourning his death.
She stayed with him at the cross after the other disciples (except John the
Beloved) had fled. She was at his burial, and she is the only person that all four Gospels say was
first to realize that Jesus hadrisen and to testify to that central teaching of faith.
John 20 and Mark
16:9 specifically name her as the first person to see Jesus after his Resurrection. She was there at
the "beginning of a movement that was going to transform the West".
She was the "Apostle to the
Apostles", an honorific that fourth-century orthodox theologian Augustine gave her
and that others
earlier had possibly conferred on her.
Throughout the centuries there have been many extra-biblical speculations about her role before
and after she met Jesus. These have included harlot, wife, mother, secret lover.
and leader
among the women following Jesus, similar to the role of Simon Peteramong the men.
Mary Magdalene is considered to be a saint by
the Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran churcheswith a feast day of July 22.
Other Protestant churches honor her as a heroine in the faith. The Eastern Orthodox churches also
commemorate her on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers, the Orthodox equivalent of one of the
Western Three Marys traditions.
1 Identity: Marys in the New Testament
2 The "composite Magdalene" of the Middle Ages
3 New Testament sources
o 3.1 During Jesus' ministry
o 3.2 During the crucifixion
o 3.3 After the crucifixion
o 3.4 At the resurrection
o 3.5 After the resurrection
4 Development of the composite Magdalene
o 4.1 In art
o 4.2 Medieval legends
5 New Testament Apocrypha and Gnostic texts
o 5.1 Gospel of Mary
o 5.2 Gospel of Philip
o 5.3 Gospel of Thomas
o 5.4 Pistis Sophia
o 5.5 In historical fiction
6 Religious views
o 6.1 Eastern Orthodox tradition
o 6.2 Roman Catholic traditions
6.2.1 Connection with Gaul
6.2.2 Penitent
6.2.3 Apostle to the apostles
o 6.3 Protestant tradition
o 6.4 Easter Egg tradition
o 6.5 Bah' tradition
7 Speculations
o 7.1 Name
o 7.2 "Beloved Disciple" in the Gospel of John
o 7.3 Conflation with Mary of Bethany
o 7.4 Betrothed to John the Evangelist
o 7.5 A virgin after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ
8 Relationship with Jesus
o 8.1 Gnostic texts
o 8.2 Medieval dualism
9 Film portrayals
10 Gallery
11 See also
12 References
13 Sources
14 Further reading
15 External links
Identity: Marys in the New Testament[edit]

Mary in fine clothes, from a German group of the Entombment of Christ
Mary was a very common name in New Testament times, held by a number of women in
the canonical Gospels. The reception history of Mary Magdalene has been greatly affected by
different interpretations as to which biblical references actually refer to her, beyond those where she
is identified by the toponym "Magdalene". Historically, the Greek Orthodox church Fathers, as a
whole, distinguished among what they believed were three Marys:
The Virgin Mary, mother of Christ
Mary Magdalene. "St. Mary Magdalen"

Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus Luke 10:38-
42 and John 11
In addition, there were Mary, the mother of James and Mary Salome.
In the four Gospels, Mary Magdalene is nearly always distinguished from other women named Mary
by adding "Magdalene" ( ) to her name.
Traditionally, this has been interpreted to
mean that she was from Magdala, a town thought to have been on the western shore of the Sea of
Galilee. Luke 8:2 says that she was actually "called Magdalene". In Hebrew Migdal means
"tower", "fortress"; inAramaic, "Magdala" means "tower" or "elevated, great,
Talmudic passages speak of a Miriam "hamegadela sear nasha", "Miriam, the
plaiter of womens hair" (Hagigah 4b; cf. Shabbat 104b), which could be a reference to Mary
Magdalene serving as a hairdresser.

In the Gospel of John, Mary Magdalene is also referred to simply as "Mary" at least
Gnostic writings use Mary, Mary Magdalene, or Magdalene.
Mary Magdalene's given name (Maria) is usually regarded as a Latin form of
(Mariam), which is the Greek variant used in the Septuagint for Miriam, the Hebrew name for Moses'
sister. The name had become very popular during Jesus' time due to its connections to the
ruling Hasmonean andHerodian dynasties.

The "composite Magdalene" of the Middle Ages[edit]
It is almost universally agreed today that characterizations of Mary Magdalene in Western
Christianity as a repentant prostitute or loose woman are unfounded,
arising fromconflating or
merging her identity with the unnamed sinner who anoints Jesus' feet in Luke 7:36-50.
The figures
of Mary Magdalene, the anointing sinner of Luke, and Mary of Bethany, who in John 11:1-2 also
anoints Jesus' feet, were long regarded as the same person. Though Mary Magdalene is named in
each of the four gospels in the New Testament, none of the clear references to her indicate that she
was a prostitute or notable for a sinful way of life,
nor link her with Mary of Bethany. Modern
scholarship has restored the understanding of Mary of Magdala as an important early Christian

Penitent Magdalene, Guido Reni, typically shown half-dressed
The Walters Art Museum.
The notion of Mary Magdalene being a repentant sinner can be traced at least as far back
as Ephraim the Syrian in the fourth century,
and became the generally accepted view
in Western Christianity after the homily of Pope Gregory I ("Gregory the Great") in about 591.
Gregory is one of the most influential and authoritative popes. In a famous series of sermons on
Mary Magdalene, given in Rome,
he identified Magdalene not only with the anonymous sinner
with the perfume in Luke's gospel, but also with Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus;
this interpretation is often called the "composite Magdalene" in modern scholarship. The seven
devils removed from her by Jesus "morphed into the seven capital sins, and Mary Magdalene began
to be condemned not only for lust but for pride and covetousness as well."

She whom Luke calls the sinful woman, whom John calls Mary, we believe to be the Mary from whom
seven devils were ejected according to Mark. And what did these seven devils signify, if not all the vices?
It is clear, brothers, that the woman previously used the unguent to perfume her flesh in forbidden acts.
What she therefore displayed more scandalously, she was now offering to God in a more praiseworthy
manner. She had coveted with earthly eyes, but now through penitence these are consumed with tears.
She displayed her hair to set off her face, but now her hair dries her tears. She had spoken proud things
with her mouth, but in kissing the Lords feet, she now planted her mouth on the Redeemers feet. For
every delight, therefore, she had had in herself, she now immolated herself. She turned the mass of her
crimes to virtues, in order to serve God entirely in penance.
Pope Gregory the Great (homily XXXIII)

The aspect of the repentant sinner became almost equally significant as the disciple in
her persona as depicted in Western art and religious literature, fitting well with the great importance
of penitence in medieval theology. In subsequent religious legend, Mary's story became conflated
with that of St Mary of Egypt, another repentant prostitute who then lived as a hermit. With that,
Marys image was, according to Susan Haskins, author of Mary Magdalene: Myth and
Metaphor, finally settled...for nearly fourteen hundred years,
although in fact the most important
late medieval popular accounts of her life describe her as a rich woman whose life of sexual freedom
is purely for pleasure.

The "composite Magdalene" was never accepted by the Eastern Orthodox churches, who saw only
Mary the disciple, and believed that after the Resurrection she lived as a companion to the Virgin
Mary. There was occasional resistance to the composite figure in the West. In 1518, on the brink of
the Protestant Reformation, the leading FrenchRenaissance humanist Jacques Lefvre
d'taples wrote arguing against the Western conflation of Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany and the
unnamed sinner in Luke. There was a flurry of books and pamphlets, most opposing Lefvre
d'taples, but others supporting him. In 1521 his views were formally condemned by the theology
faculty of the Sorbonne, and debate died down, overtaken by the larger issues raised by Martin
Although Protestant theologians and biblical commentators such as John Calvin generally
rejected the composite Magdalene,
belief in it long survived the Reformation in much Protestant
devotional literature, where the emphasis of depictions of Mary Magdalene continued to be on the
penitent whose sins had been forgiven because of her love for Jesus.
From the 12th century Abbot Hugh of Semur (died 1109), Peter Abelard (died 1142), and Geoffrey of
Vendome (died 1132) all referred to Mary Magdalene as the sinner who merited the title apostolarum
apostola (Apostle to the Apostles), with the title becoming commonplace during the 12th and 13th

The common identification of Mary Magdalene with other New Testament figures was rejected in
the 1969 revision of the General Roman Calendar, with the comment regarding
her liturgical celebration on 22 July: "No change has been made in the title of today's memorial, but it
concerns only Saint Mary Magdalene, to whom Christ appeared after his resurrection. It is not about
the sister of Saint Martha, nor about the sinful woman whose sins the Lord forgave (Luke 7:36
Elsewhere it said of the Roman liturgy of 22 July that "it will make mention neither of Mary of
Bethany nor of the sinful woman of Luke 7:3650, but only of Mary Magdalene, the first person to
whom Christ appeared after his resurrection".
Mary of Bethany's feast day and that of her brother
Lazarus is now on 29 July, the memorial of their sister Martha.

Nevertheless, the reputation still lingers.
The misidentification of St. Mary Magdalene as a
repentant prostitute was followed by many writers and artists into the 1990s. Even today it is
promulgated by some secular groups. It is reflected in Martin Scorsese's film adaptation of Nikos
Kazantzakis's novel The Last Temptation of Christ, in Jos Saramago'sThe Gospel According to
Jesus Christ, Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Jesus Christ Superstar, Mel Gibson's The Passion of
the Christ, Jean-Claude La Marre's Color of the Cross and Hal Hartley's The Book of Life.
It was because of this association of St. Mary Magdalene having been a prostitute that she became
the patroness of "wayward women", and Magdalene asylums became established to help "save"
women from prostitution.

New Testament sources[edit]

The Magdalene washing the feet of Jesus, surrounded by grisailles of other scenes from the life of the "composite
Magdalen", Frans Francken II, 1637
Primary sources about Mary Magdalene can be divided into canonical texts that are collected into
the Christian New Testament andapocryphal texts that were left out from the Bible, being judged
as heretical during the development of the New Testament canon. These apocryphal sources are
usually dated from the end of the 1st to the early 4th century, all possibly written well after St. Mary's
death. (The canonical gospels are often dated from the second half of the 1st century.)
In addition,
the Gregorian figure of the composite Magdalen developed an elaborate literary and artistic tradition
in the Middle Ages.
During Jesus' ministry[edit]
Luke 8:1-3
The four Gospels included in the New Testament have little to say about Mary Magdalene. With a
single exception in the Gospel of Luke, there is no mention of her in the Gospels until the

After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another. The Twelve were with him, and also
some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom
seven demons had come outand many others. These women were helping to support them out of their
own means.
Luke 8:1-3
Luke 8:2 and Mark 16:9 say Jesus cleansed her of "seven demons". Some interpret this as meaning
that he healed her from mental or physical illnesses.
The statement in Mark is part of the "longer
ending" of that Gospel, not found in the earliest manuscripts, and which may have been a second-
century addition to the original text, possibly based on the Gospel of Luke.

Detail of Mary kissing the feet of the crucified Jesus, Italian, early 14th century
During the crucifixion[edit]
Main article: Women at the crucifixion
Matthew 27:56, Mark 15:40, John 19:25
It is at the time of the crucifixion and resurrection that Mary
Magdalene comes to the fore in the gospels. Uniquely among the
followers of Jesus, she is specified by name (though not
consistently by any one gospel) as a witness to three key events:
Jesus' crucifixion, his burial, and the discovery that his tomb was
empty. Mark 15:40, Matthew 27:56 and John 19:25 mention Mary
Magdalene as a witness to crucifixion, along with various other
women. Luke does not name any witnesses, but mentions "women
who had followed him from Galilee" standing at a distance.
[Lk. 23:49]

After the crucifixion[edit]
Matthew 27:61, Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1
In listing witnesses who saw where Jesus was buried
by Joseph of Aramathea, Mark 15:47 and Matthew 27:61 both
name only two people: Mary Magdalene and "the other Mary",
who in Mark is "the mother of James". Luke 23:55 describes the
witnesses as "the women who had come with Jesus from
Galilee". John 19:39-42 mentions no other witness to Joseph's
burial of Jesus except for Nicodemus. Mark 16:1 says "...Mary
Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought
spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus body". The
connection with the earlier Anointing of Jesus, and his remarks
then, was one of the arguments used in favour of the
"composite Magdalen".
At the resurrection[edit]
Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:9, Luke 24, John 20:1
In Mark, Matthew, and John, Mary Magdalene is first
witness to the resurrection. John 20:1 names Mary
Magdalene in describing who discovered the tomb was
empty. Mark 16:9says she was accompanied
by Salome and Mary the mother of James, while Matthew
28:1 omits Salome. Luke 24:10 says the group who
reported to the disciples the finding of the empty tomb
consisted of "Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of
James, and the others with them". In Luke 24 the
resurrection is announced to the women at the tomb by
"two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning" who
suddenly appeared next to them.
After the resurrection[edit]

Noli me Tangere by Titian, c. 1512
John 20:16 and Mark 16:9 both say that Jesus' first post-
resurrection appearance was to Mary Magdalene alone.
In Matthew 28:9, Mary Magdalene is with the other women
returning from the empty tomb when they all see the first
appearance of Jesus.
The first actual appearance by Jesus that Luke mentions is
later that day, when Cleopas and an unnamed disciple
walked with a fellow traveler they later realized was
Jesus. Mark 16 describes the same appearance as
happening after the private appearance to Mary
Magdalene. The gospels of Mark and Luke record that the
rest of the disciples did not believe Mary's report of what
she saw, and neither Mary Magdalene nor any of the other
women are mentioned by name in Paul's catalog of
appearances at 1 Cor 15:1. Instead, Paul writes that Jesus
"appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve".
The Gospel of John

and the Gospel of
also mention "Mary of Bethany", the sister
of Lazarus and Martha. Mary and Martha are among the
most familiar sets of sisters in the Bible. Both Luke and
John describe them as friends of Jesus. Luke's story,
though only four verses long, has been a complex source of
inspiration, interpretation, and debate for centuries. John's
account, which says the sisters had a brother named
Lazarus, spans seventy verses.

Among the women who are specifically named in the New
Testament of the Bible, Mary Magdalenes name is one of
the most frequently found. In Matthew 27:56, the author
names three women in sequence: Mary Magdalene, and
Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of
Zebedee's children. In the Gospel of Mark, the author lists
a group of women three times, and each time, Mary
Magdalenes name appears first. Finally, in the Gospel of
Luke, as already remarked, the author enumerates the
women who reported the tomb visit, writing that, It was
Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and
the other women with them, which once again places Mary
Magdalene at the head of the list.
According to Carla Ricci,
The place she [Mary
Magdalene] occupied in the list cannot be considered
fortuitous, because over and over Mary Magdalenes name
is placed at the head of specifically named women,
indicating her importance. The significance of this is further
strengthened when one examines the lists of the named
apostles. In Luke, the author writes that Jesus took Peter,
John and James. Ricci
writes that because Peter
occupies the first position in the list, that place can be
considered the position of highest importance. As a result, it
can be argued that Mary Magdalene must have held a very
central position among the followers of Jesus, whether as
disciple or in some other capacity.
After her first report to the named apostles that Jesus was
risen, Mary Magdalene disappears from the New
Testament. She is not mentioned by name in the Acts of
the Apostles, although she may be one of the women
mentioned in Acts 1:14.
Her fate remains undocumented.
Development of the composite
In art[edit]

Mary, in red, gestures at the cross, as the Virgin Mary
swoons and John looks after her, Italian, c. 1320
The early notion of Mary Magdalene as a sinner and
adulteress was reflected in Western medieval Christian art,
where she was the most commonly depicted female figure
after the Virgin Mary. She may be shown either as very
extravagantly and fashionably dressed, unlike other female
figures wearing contemporary styles of clothes, or
alternatively as completely naked but covered by very long
blonde or reddish-blonde hair. The latter depictions
represent the Penitent Magdalen, who according to
medieval legend (details in next section) had spent a period
of repentance as a desert hermit after leaving her life as a
follower of Jesus. Her story became conflated in the West
with that of Saint Mary of Egypt, a 4th-century prostitute
turned hermit, whose clothes wore out and fell off in the
In medieval depictions Mary's long hair entirely
covers her body and preserves her modesty (supplemented
in some German versions such as one byTilman
Riemenschneider by thick body hair), but from the 16th
century some depictions, like those by Titian, show part of
her naked body, the amount of nudity tending to increase in
successive periods. Even if covered, she often wears only a
drape pulled around her, or an undergarment. In particular,
Mary is often shown naked in the legendary scene of her
"Elevation", where she is sustained in the desert by angels
who raise her up and feed her heavenly manna, as
recounted in the Golden Legend (quoted below).

Mary Magdalene at the foot of the cross during the
Crucifixion appears in an 11th-century English manuscript
"as an expressional device rather than a historical motif",
intended as "the expression of an emotional assimilation of
the event, that leads the spectator to identify himself with
the mourners".
Other isolated depictions occur, but from
the 13th century additions to the Virgin Mary and John as
the spectators at the Crucifixion become more common,
with Mary Magdalene as the most frequently found, either
kneeling at the foot of the cross clutching the shaft,
sometimes kissing Christ's feet, or standing, usually at the
left and behind Mary and John, with her arms stretched
upwards towards Christ in a gesture of grief, as in a
damaged painting by Cimabue in the upper church at
Assisi of c.1290. A kneeling Magdalene by Giotto in
the Scrovegni Chapel (c. 1305) was especially
As Gothic painted crucifixions became
crowded compositions the Magdalene became a prominent
figure, with a halo and identifiable by her long unbound
blonde hair, and usually a bright red dress. As
the swooning Virgin Mary became more common, generally
occupying the attention of John, the unrestrained gestures
of Magdalene increasingly represented the main display of
the grief of the spectators.

"Mary Magdalene" (1480), altarpiece in International Gothic style
by Carlo Crivelli
Mary Magdalene is usually shown with long flowing hair,
which she wears down over her shoulders, and may use
either to cover her nakedness in the desert, or to dry
Jesus's feet after washing them. The other women of the
New Testament in these same depictions ordinarily have
dark hair beneath a scarf, following contemporary
standards of propriety by hiding their hair beneath
headdresses or kerchiefs. Long hair was only worn loose in
public by either prostitutes or (by the end of the Middle
Ages) noblewomen; working and middle-class women were
normally expected to keep their hair covered or at least
bound up, with exceptions for festive occasions, in
particular brides on their wedding day.
According to Robert Kiely, "No figure in the Christian
Pantheon except Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and John the
Baptist has inspired, provoked, or confounded the
imagination of painters more than the Magdalene".
from the Crucifixion, Mary was often shown in scenes of
thePassion of Jesus, when mentioned in the Gospels, such
as the Crucifixion, Christ Carrying the Cross and Noli me
Tangere, but usually omitted in other scenes showing
the Twelve Apostles, such as the Last Supper. As Mary of
Bethany, she is shown as present at theResurrection of
Lazarus, her brother, and in the scene with Jesus and her
sister Martha, which began to be depicted often in the 17th
century, as in Christ in the House of Martha and
Mary by Velzquez.

Medieval legends[edit]

International Gothic Elevation of Mary Magdalene with angels
raising her

Mary Magdalene reading by Piero di Cosimo
Between the time of Pope Gregory I (590-604 AD),
until Jacobus de Voragine's Golden Legend and Jacques
Lefvre d'taples(Concerning Mary Magdalene) in 1519
AD, various versions of the Legend of Mary Magdalene
circulated in the south of France andGermany. Odo of
Cluny wrote a version in the 900s AD that described Mary's
family as nobility,
and in the Golden Legend they are
magnates of royal descent, lords of Bethany and owning
much property in Jerusalem. Her sinning is entirely non-
...Magdalene abounded in riches, and because
delight is fellow to riches and abundance of things;
and for so much as she shone in beauty greatly,
and in riches, so much the more she submitted her
body to delight, and therefore she lost her right
name, and was called customably a sinner.

"The Magdalene" by George Romney
Most of the later legends speak of a Mary who after
the Ascension of Jesus lived as a hermit in a cave for thirty
years, communicating withangels.
Single "portrait"
figures of the Magdalene typically depicted her as the
"Penitent Magdalene" in this period of her life (see above).
In the words of William Caxton's English translation of
the Golden Legend:
...the blessed Mary Magdalene, desirous of
sovereign contemplation, sought a right sharp
desert, and took a place which was ordained by the
angel of God, and abode there by the space of thirty
years without knowledge of anybody. In which place
she had no comfort of running water, ne solace of
trees, ne of herbs. And that was because our
Redeemer did do show it openly, that he had
ordained for her refection celestial, and no bodily
meats. And every day at every hour canonical she
was lifted up in the air of angels, and heard the
glorious song of the heavenly companies with her
bodily ears. Of which she was fed and filled with
right sweet meats, and then was brought again by
the angels unto her proper place, in such wise as
she had no need of corporal nourishing.

The elaborately detailed (and conflicting) legends that
brought Mary to Western Europe after Jesus's life on earth
were very widely accepted in the Western church,
not at all by Eastern Orthodoxy, which had her retiring with
the Virgin Mary, and dying inEphesus. In the Golden
Legend the "right sharp desert" where Mary retires to
repent is located near Aix-en-Provence in the South of
These legends are covered in the section below
on the Roman Catholic tradition.
New Testament Apocrypha and
Gnostic texts[edit]
Main article: New Testament Apocrypha
In apocryphal texts, she is portrayed as a visionary and
leader of the early movement whom Jesus loved more than
he loved the other disciples.
Several Gnostic gospels,
such as the Gospel of Mary, written in the early 2nd
century, see Mary as the special disciple of Jesus who has
a deeper understanding of his teachings and is asked to
impart this to the other disciples.
Several Gnostic writings, usually dated to 2nd and 3rd
centuries, paint a drastically different picture of Mary
Magdalene from that of thecanonical Gospels. In Gnostic
writings Mary Magdalene is seen as one of the most
important of Jesus' disciples whom he loved more than the
others. The Gnostic Gospel of Philip names Mary
Magdalene as Jesus' companion. Gnostic writings describe
tensions and jealousy between Mary Magdalene and other
disciples, especially Peter.
Gospel of Mary[edit]
Main article: Gospel of Mary
In her introduction in The Complete Gospels, Karen King
names the manuscripts available for the Gospel of Mary.
She writes that only three fragmentary manuscripts are
known to have survived into the modern period, two 3rd-
century fragments (P. Rylands 463 and P. Oxyrhynchus
3525) published in 1938 and 1983, and a longer 5th-
century Coptic translation (Berolinensis Gnosticus 8052,1)
published in 1955.

First discovered in 1896, the Gospel of Mary exalts Mary
Magdalene over the male disciples of Jesus. The Gospel of
Mary provides important information about the role of
women in the early church,
although it is missing six
pages from the beginning, and four from the middle.
It is
usually dated to about the same period as that of the
Gospel of Philip.
The identity of "Mary" appearing as the main character in
this Gospel is sometimes disputed, but she is generally
believed to be Mary Magdalene. The Gospel of
Mary presents her as one of the disciples, says she has
seen a private vision from the resurrected Jesus
describes it to other disciples:
Peter said to Mary, "Sister we know that the Savior
loved you more than the rest of woman. Tell us the
words of the Savior which you remember which you
know, but we do not, nor have we heard them".
Mary answered and said, "What is hidden from you
I will proclaim to you". And she began to speak to
them these words: "I", she said, "I saw the Lord in a
vision and I said to Him, Lord I saw you today in a

Almost all of Mary's vision is within the lost pages.
When Mary had said these things, she fell silent,
since it was up to this point that the Savior had
spoken to her.

Mary is then confronted by Andrew and Peter, who do not
take for granted what she says, because she is a woman:
"Did he then speak secretly with a woman, in
preference to us, and not openly? Are we to turn
back and all listen to her? Did he prefer her to us?"
Then Mary grieved and said to Peter, "My brother
Peter, what do you think? Do you think that I
thought this up myself in my heart or that I am lying
concerning the Savior?"

Mary is defended by Levi:
"But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you to
reject her? Surely the Savior knew her very well.
For this reason he loved her more than us".

The repeated reference in the Gnostic texts of Mary as
being loved by Jesus more than the others has been seen
as supporting the theory that the Beloved Disciple in the
canonical Gospel of John was originally Mary Magdalene,
before being later redacted in the Gospel.
[citation needed]

Gospel of Philip[edit]

Domenico Tintoretto, The Penitent Magdalene, c. 1598
Main article: Gospel of Philip
Gospel of Philip, dating from the 2nd or 3rd century,
survives in part among the texts found in Nag Hammadi in
In a manner very similar to John 19:25-26, the
Gospel of Philip presents Mary Magdalene among Jesus'
female entourage, adding that she was hiskoinnos, a
Greek word variously translated in contemporary versions
as partner, associate, comrade, companion.

There were three who always walked with the Lord:
Mary, his mother, and her sister, and Magdalene,
the one who was called his companion. His
his mother and his companion were each
a Mary.

Others' irritation from the love and affection presented by
Jesus to Mary Magdalene is claimed in the apocryphal
Gospel of Philip. The text is badly fragmented, and
speculated but unreliable additions are shown in brackets:
And the companion of the saviour was Mary
Magdalene. Christ loved Mary more than all the
disciples, and used to kiss her often. The rest of the
disciples were offended by it and expressed
disapproval. They said to him, "Why do you love her
more than all of us?" The Saviour answered and
said to them, "Why do I not love you like her?"

Gospel of Thomas[edit]
Main article: Gospel of Thomas
Gospel of Thomas, usually dated to the late 1st or early 2nd
century, was also among the finds in the Nag Hammadi
library in 1945.
It has two short references to a "Mary",
generally regarded as Mary Magdalene. The latter of the
two describes the sentiment towards female members of
the early Gnostics:
Simon Peter said to them: Let Mary go forth from
among us, for women are not worthy of the life.
Jesus said: Behold, I shall lead her, that I may
make her male, in order that she also may become
a living spirit like you males. For every woman who
makes herself male shall enter into the kingdom of

When the Gospel of Thomas was written, people commonly
assumed that men were superior to women, an attitude
consistent with the historical context.

The manuscript gives 114 "secret teachings" of Jesus. Mary
is mentioned briefly in saying 21. Here, Mary asks Jesus,
"Whom are your disciples like?" Jesus responds, "They are
like children who have settled in a field which is not theirs.
When the owners of the field come, they will say, 'Let us
have back our field.' They (will) undress in their presence in
order to let them have back their field and to give it back to
them". Following this, Jesus continues his explanation with
a parable about the owner of a house and a thief, ending
with the common rhetoric, "Whoever has ears to hear let
him hear".
Pistis Sophia[edit]
Main article: Pistis Sophia
Pistis Sophia, possibly dating as early as the 2nd century, is
the best surviving of the Gnostic writings.
Sophia presents a long dialog with Jesus in the form of his
answers to questions from his disciples. Of the 64
questions, 39 are presented by a woman who is referred to
as Mary or Mary Magdalene. Jesus says of Mary:
"Mary, thou blessed one, whom I will perfect in all
mysteries of those of the height, discourse in
openness, thou, whose heart is raised to the
kingdom of heaven more than all thy brethren".

There is also a short reference to a person named "Martha"
among the disciples, possibly the same person who is
named as the sister of Mary of Bethany.
In historical fiction[edit]
Edgar Saltus's historical fiction novel Mary Magdalene: A
Chronicle (1891) depicts her as a heroine living in a castle
at Magdala, who moves to Rome becoming the "toast of the
tetrarchy", telling John the Baptist she will "drink pearls...
sup on peacock's tongues".

Ki Longfellow's novel The Secret Magdalene (2005) draws
on the Gnostic gospels and other sources to portray Mary
as a brilliant and dynamic woman who studies at the
fabledlibrary at Alexandria, and shares her knowledge with

Religious views[edit]
Eastern Orthodox tradition[edit]

Eastern Orthodox icon of Mary Magdalene as a Myrrhbearer
The Eastern Orthodox Church maintains that Mary
Magdalene, distinguished from Mary of Bethany and the
"sinful woman" who anoints Jesus in Luke,
[Lk 7:3650]
been a virtuous woman all her life, even before her
conversion. They have never celebrated her as a penitent.
This view finds expression both in her written life ( or
vita) and in the liturgical service in her honor that is included
in theMenaion and performed on her annual feast-day.
There is a tradition that Mary Magdalene led so chaste a life
that the devil thought she might be the one who was to bear
Christ into the world, and for that reason he sent the seven
demons to trouble her.
Mary Magdalene is honored as one of the first witnesses of
the Resurrection of Jesus, and received a special
commission from him to tell the Apostles of his
[Jn 20:1118]
She is often depicted
on icons bearing a vessel of ointment, not because of the
anointing by the "sinful woman", but because she was
among those women who brought ointments to the tomb of
Jesus. For this reason, she is called aMyrrhbearer.
According to Eastern traditions, she retired to Ephesus with
the Theotokos (Mary, the Mother of God) and there she
died. Her relics were transferred to Constantinople in 886
and are preserved there.
Roman Catholic traditions[edit]

Magdalen with the Smoking Flame, by Georges de La Tour (c.1640)
Connection with Gaul[edit]
Gregory of Tours, writing in Tours in the 6th
supported the tradition of the eastern
Church that she retired to Ephesus, with no mention of any
connection to Gaul. But for most of the Middle Ages the
Western church believed that after her period as a disciple
of Jesus Mary Magdalene had travelled to the south of
France, and died there.
How a cult of St. Mary Magdalene first arose
in Provence has been summed up by Victor Saxer
in the
collection of essays in La Magdaleine, VIIIe XIIIe
and by Katherine Ludwig Jansen, drawing on
popular devotions, sermon literature and iconology.
Provence, Mary is said to have spent her last years alone in
the wilderness, fasting and engaging in acts of penitential
self-discipline, behavior that was rewarded with
experiences of ecstatic union with the divine. Depictions of
the Penitent Magdalen became enormously popular in
preaching and art (see above).

St. Mary Magdalene's relics were first venerated at
the Abbey of la Madaleine, Vzelay in Burgundy from about
Jacobus de Voragine gives the common account
of the transfer of the relics of Mary Magdalene from her
sepulchre in the oratory of Saint Maximin atAix-en-
Provence to the newly founded Vzelay;
transportation of the relics is entered as undertaken in 771
by the founder of the abbey, identified as Gerard, duke of
The earliest mention of this episode is the
notice of the chronicler Sigebert of Gembloux(died 1112),
who asserts that the relics were removed to Vzelay
through fear of the Saracens.
On September 9, 1279, a purported burial of Mary
Magdalene was discovered at Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-
Baume, Provence, which gradually displaced Vzelay in
popularity and acceptance. This cult attracted such throngs
of pilgrims that the earlier shrine was rebuilt as the
great basilica from the mid-13th century, one of the
finest Gothic churches in the south of France.
[citation needed]

The competition between the Cluniac Benedictines of
Vzelay and the Dominicans of Saint-Maxime occasioned a
rash of miraculous literature supporting the one or the other
site. Jacobus de Voragine, compiling his Golden
Legend before the competition arose, characterized Mary
Magdalene as the emblem of penitence, washing the feet of
Jesus with her copious tears following the "composite"
figure, protectress of pilgrims to Jerusalem, daily lifting by
angels at the meal hour in her fasting retreat and many
other miraculous happenings in the genre of Romance,
ending with her death in the oratory of Saint Maximin, all
disingenuously claimed to have been drawn from the
histories of Hegesippus and ofJosephus.
The French tradition of Saint Lazarus of Bethany is that
Mary, her brother Lazarus, and Maximinus, one of
the Seventy Disciples and some companions, expelled by
persecutions from the Holy Land, traversed
the Mediterranean in a frail boat with neither rudder nor
mast and landed at the place called Saintes-Maries-de-la-
Mer near Arles. Mary Magdalene came to Marseille and
converted the whole of Provence. Magdalene is said to
have retired to a cave on a hill by Marseille, La Sainte-
Baume ("holy cave" baumo in Provenal), where she gave
herself up to a life of penance for thirty years. When the
time of her death arrived she was carried by angels to Aix
and into the oratory of Maximinus, where she received
the viaticum; her body was then laid in an oratory
constructed by St. Maximinus at Villa Lata, afterwards
called St. Maximin.
[citation needed]

According to another legend, on the way they were
shipwrecked on the island of Malta, where Dingli,
Rabat, Madliena (Maltese for Magdalene), and Valletta all
have chapels or other dedications. Madliena in Gozo also
had a chapel dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene, but this
was demolished.
In 1279, when Charles II, King of Naples, erected a
Dominican convent at La Sainte-Baume, the shrine was
found intact, with an explanatory inscription stating why the
relics had been hidden.
[citation needed]

Mary Magdalene attributed to Gregor Erhart (d. 1525)
During the Counter Reformation and Baroque periods (late
16th and 17th centuries), the cult of Mary Magdalene saw a
great, new popularity as the Catholic Church publicized her
as an attractive, persuasive model of repentance and
reform, in keeping with the goals of the reform Council of
Trent (154563). Numerous works of art and theater
featuring the tearful penitent Magdalene appeared in the
17th century.
As part of this new attention to the cult of
the Magdalene, in 1600, her relics were placed in a
sarcophagus commissioned byPope Clement VIII, the head
being placed in a separate reliquary. The relics and free-
standing images were scattered and destroyed at
theRevolution. In 1814, the church of La Sainte-Baume,
also wrecked during the Revolution, was restored. In 1822,
the grotto was consecrated afresh. The head of the saint
now lies there and has been the centre of many
[citation needed]

The traditional Roman Catholic feast day dedicated to St.
Mary Magdalene celebrated her position as a "penitent".
The Magdalene became a symbol of repentance for the
vanities of the world to various sects. In 1969, the Catholic
Church removed the description "penitent" from the title of
the July 22 feast of Saint Mary Magdalene in the General
Roman Calendar,
and replaced Luke 7:36-50 (the
penitent woman)
of the Tridentine Mass with John 20:1-
2, 11-8 (meeting of Mary Magdalene with Jesus after his
resurrection) as the Gospel reading at Mass.
St. Mary
Magdalene was the patron of Magdalen College, Oxford,
and Magdalene College, Cambridge(both colleges
pronounce her name as "maudlin"). In contrast, her name
was also used for the Magdalen Asylum, institutions for
"fallen women".
Apostle to the apostles[edit]

The Three Marys at the Tomb byPeter Paul Rubens, with Mary
Magdalene in red
Mary Magdalene, who according to John 20:17
18 and Mark 16:9-11 was commissioned by the risen Jesus
to inform the disciples of his resurrection, is called "the
apostle to the apostles".
Matthew 28:1-8 and Luke 24:10 speak of women (in the
plural), including Mary Magdalene, carrying out this
function. An early Christian commentary on the Song of
Songs, perhaps by Hippolytus of Rome (170235), has
Christ speak of two women, whom it calls Mary and Martha,
as apostles to the apostles: "Christ showed himself to the
(male) apostles and said to them: ... 'It is I who appeared to
these women and I who wanted to send them to you as

Use of the actual term "apostle to the apostles" or "apostle
of the apostles" is first attested much later than the time of
Hippolytus. According to Darrell Bock, it first appears in the
10th century,
but Katherine Ludwig Jansen says she
found no reference to it earlier than the 12th, by which time
it was already commonplace.
She mentions in
particular Hugh of Cluny (10241109), Peter
Abelard (10791142), and Bernard of Clairvaux (1090
1153) among those who gave Mary Magdalene the title
of apostolorum apostola (apostle of the apostles). Jane
Schaberg adds Geoffrey of Vendme (c. 1065/701132).

In fact, the equivalent of the phrase apostolorum
apostola appears already in the 9th century. Chapter XXVII
of the Life of Mary Magdalene written by Rabanus
Maurus (c. 780 4 February 856) is headed: Ubi
Magdalenam Christus ad apostolos mittit
apostolam (Wherein Christ sends Magdalene as an apostle
to the apostles).
The same chapter she did not delay in
exercising the office of apostolate with which he had been
honoured (apostolatus officio quo honorata fuerat fungi non
Raymond E. Brown, commenting on this fact,
remarks that Rabanus Maurus frequently applies the word
to Mary Magdalene in this work.

Because of Mary Magdalene's position as an apostle,
though not one of those who became official witnesses to
the resurrection, the Catholic Church honoured her by
reciting theCreed on her feast day, the only woman to be so
honoured apart from Mary, the mother of Jesus.

In his apostolic letter Mulieris Dignitatem ("On the dignity
and vocation of women", part 67-69) dated 15 August
1988, Pope John Paul II dealt with the Easter events in
relation to the women being present at the tomb after the
Resurrection, in a section entitled 'First Witnesses of the
The women are the first at the tomb. They are the
first to find it empty. They are the first to hear 'He is
not here. He has risen, as he said.'
[Mt 28:6]
They are
the first to embrace his feet.
[cf. Mt 28:9]
The women are
also the first to be called to announce this truth to
the Apostles.
[Mt 28:1-10]

[Lk 24:8-11]
The Gospel of John
(cf. alsoMk 16:9 emphasizes the special role of
Mary Magdalene. She is the first to meet the Risen
Christ. [...] Hence she came to be called "the
apostle of the Apostles". Mary Magdalene was the
first eyewitness of the Risen Christ, and for this
reason she was also the first to bear witness to him
before the Apostles. This event, in a sense, crowns
all that has been said previously about Christ
entrusting divine truths to women as well as men.
John Paul II

Protestant tradition[edit]

Icon of St. Mary Magdalene depicted as one of
the Myrrhbearers with the words Christ is Risen in Greek at the
top, depicting her discovery of the empty tomb
The 1549 Book of Common Prayer had on July 22 a feast
of Saint Mary Magdalene, with the same Scripture readings
as in the Tridentine Mass and with a newly
composed collect: "Merciful father geue us grace, that we
neuer presume to synne through the example of anye
creature, but if it shall chaunce vs at any tyme to offende
thy dyuine maiestie: that then we maye truly repent, and
lament the same, after the example of Mary Magdalene,
and by lyuelye faythe obtayne remission of all oure sinnes:
throughe the onely merites of thy sonne oure sauiour
Christ." The 1552 edition omitted the feast of Saint Mary
Magdalene, which was restored to the Book of Common
Prayer only after some 400 years.

Among the leaders of the Protestant Reformation, for
Luther and Zwingli, Mary Magdalene is the composite
Magdalene of medieval tradition, but Calvin distinguishes
between her, Mary of Bethany, and the sinful woman.

Modern Protestants honor her as a disciple and friend of
Anglican Christians revere her as a saint and may
call upon her for intercession.
The Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America honors Mary Magdalene on July 22 as a
Lesser Festival.

Easter Egg tradition[edit]
For centuries, it has been the custom of many Christians to
share dyed and painted eggs, particularly on Easter
Sunday. The eggs represent new life, and Christ bursting
forth from the tomb. Among Eastern Orthodox
Christians this sharing is accompanied by the
proclamation "Christ is risen!"
One tradition concerning Mary Magdalene says that,
following the death and resurrection of Jesus, she used her
position to gain an invitation to a banquet given by
the Roman Emperor Tiberius. When she met him, she held
a plain egg in her hand and exclaimed, "Christ is risen!" The
Emperor laughed, and said that Christ rising from the dead
was as likely as the egg in her hand turning red while she
held it. Before he finished speaking, the egg in her hand
turned a bright red, and she continued proclaiming the
Gospel to the entire imperial house.

Another version of this story can be found in popular belief,
mostly in Greece. It is believed that after the Crucifixion,
Mary Magdalene and the Virgin Mary put a basket full of
eggs at the foot of the cross. There, the eggs were painted
red by the blood of the Christ. Then, Mary Magdalene
brought them to Tiberius Caesar.
[citation needed]

Bah' tradition[edit]
There are many references to Mary Magdalene in the
sacred writings of the Bah' Faith, where she enjoys an
exalted status as a heroine of faith and the "archetypal
woman of all cycles".
`Abdu'l-Bah, the son of the
founder of the religion, said that she was "the channel of
confirmation" to Jesus' disciples, a "heroine" who "re-
established the faith of the apostles" and was "a light of
nearness in his kingdom".
`Abdu'l-Bah also wrote that
"her reality is ever shining from the horizon of Christ", "her
face is shining and beaming forth on the horizon of the
universe forevermore" and that "her candle is, in the
assemblage of the world, lighted till eternity".
Bah considered her to be the supreme example of how
women are completely equal with men in the sight of God
and can at times even exceed men in holiness and
Indeed he claimed that she surpassed all the
men of her time,
and that "crowns studded with the
brilliant jewels of guidance" were upon her head.

The Bah' writings also expand upon the scarce
references to her life in the canonical Gospels, with a wide
array of extra-canonical stories about her and sayings
which are not recorded in any other extant historical
sources. `Abdu'l-Bah claimed that Mary traveled to Rome
and spoke before the Emperor Tiberius, which is
presumably why Pilate was later recalled to Rome for his
cruel treatment of the Jews (a tradition also attested to in
the Eastern Orthodox Church).
According to the memoirs
of Juliet Thompson, `Abdu'l-Bah also compared Mary to
Juliet, one of his most devoted followers, claiming that she
even physically resembled her and that Mary Magdalene
was Juliet Thompson's "correspondence in heaven".
Bah's have noted parallels between Mary Magdalene and
the Bab heroine-poetess Tahirih. The two are similar in
many respects, with Mary Magdalene often being viewed as
a Christian antecedent of the latter, while Tahirih in her own
right could be described as the spiritual return of the
Magdalene; especially given their common, shared
attributes of "knowledge, steadfastness, courage, virtue and
will power", in addition to their importance within the
religious movements of Christianity and the Bah' Faith as
female leaders.


"Beloved Disciple" in the Gospel of John, Mary Magdalene; by El
Greco ca. 1580
The name Mary occurs numerous times in the New
Testament. There are several people named Mary in the
Gospels. There also are several unnamed women who
seem to share characteristics with Mary Magdalene. At
different times in history, Mary Magdalene has been
confused or misidentified with almost every woman in the
four Gospels, except the mother of Jesus.
"Beloved Disciple" in the Gospel of John[edit]
Main article: Beloved Disciple
A group of scholars, the most familiar of whom is Elaine
Pagels, have suggested that Mary Magdalene was a leader
of the early Church. These scholars have even suggested
that Mary might even be the unidentified "Beloved Disciple"
to whom the Gospel of John is ascribed.

Raymond E. Brown suggests that to make this claim and
maintain consistency with scriptures, Mary's separate
existence in the two common scenes with the Beloved
[Jn 19:25-27]

were modifications hastily added
later to give validity to the gospel in the late 2nd century.
Both scenarios contain internal inconsistencies, possibly
stemming from rough editing to make Mary Magdalene and
the Beloved Disciple appear as different persons.
In his later work, The Death of the
Brown makes no mention of this idea and
consistently speaks of the Beloved Disciple as male.

Conflation with Mary of Bethany[edit]
Main article: Mary of Bethany
In the Roman Catholic "composite" tradition, Mary of
Bethany was identified with Mary Magdalene.
In Eastern
Orthodox and many Protestant traditions, they always were
considered separate persons.

"Mary of Bethany" is just referred to as "Mary" both in Luke
10:38-42 and the Gospel of John. Jesus seems to know her
family well
[Jn 11:3]
and is described visiting them several
[Jn 11:17]

In John 12:3-8, Mary anoints Jesus with
expensive perfume and wipes his feet with her own hair, to
which Jesus says that it was intended "she should save this
perfume for the day of my burial".
Following this, Mary of
Bethany disappears from the narrative, while Mary
Magdalene emerges at Jesus' crucifixion, finding later his
tomb empty and being the first to see him after the
Resurrection. Mary Magdalene is also referred to as "Mary"
in John 20:11 and 20:16
The Gnostic texts commonly refer to Mary Magdalene as

Betrothed to John the Evangelist[edit]
The monk and historian Domenico Cavalca (c. 1270-1342),
citing Jerome, suggested that Mary Magdalene
was betrothed to St John the Evangelist: "I like to think that
the Magdalene was the spouse of John, not affirming it... I
am glad and blythe that St Jerome should say so".
were sometimes thought to be the couple at the Wedding at
Cana, though the Gospel accounts say nothing of the
ceremony being abandoned. The Dominican friar Jacobus
de Voragine (c. 12301298) in his Golden
Legend dismisses talk of John and Mary being betrothed
and that John had left his bride at the altar to follow

In 1449 King Ren d'Anjou gave to Angers
Cathedral the amphora from Cana in which Jesus changed
water to wine, acquiring it from the nuns of Marseilles, who
told him that Mary Magdalene had brought it with her from
Judea, relating to the legend where she was the jilted bride
at the wedding following John the Evangelist received his
calling from Jesus.

A virgin after the Resurrection of Jesus
Ambrose (De virginitate 3,14; 4,15) and John Chrysostom
(Matthew, Homily 88) have suggested that Mary Magdalene
was a virgin after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Relationship with Jesus[edit]
See also: Jesus bloodline
Gnostic texts[edit]
The Gospel of Philip depicts Mary as
Jesus' Koinnos (), a Greek term indicating a
"close friend" or "companion".
Mary Magdalene is
mentioned as one of three Marys "who always walked with
the Lord" and as his companion (Philip 59.6-11). The work
also says that the Lord loved her more than all the
disciples, and used to kiss her often (63.34-
Author John Dickson argues that it was common in
early Christianity to kiss a fellow believer by way of
[1 Pet. 5:14]
thus such kissing would have no romantic
Kripal writes that "the historical sources
are simply too contradictory and simultaneously too silent"
to make absolute declarations regarding Jesus'
Bart Ehrman concludes that historical evidence
tells us nothing at all about Jesus' sexuality"certainly
nothing to indicate that Jesus and Mary had a sexual
relationship of any kind". Ehrman (a scholar of the Greek
New Testament and Early Christianity) says that the
question people ask him most often is whether Mary
Magdalene and Jesus of Nazareth married each other? His
answer: "It is not true that the Dead Sea Scrolls contained
Gospels that discussed Mary and Jesus. (...) Nor is it true
that the marriage of Mary and Jesus is repeatedly
discussed in the Gospels that didn't make it into the New
Testament. In fact, it is never discussed at allnever even
mentioned, not even once. (...) It is not true that the Gospel
of Philip calls Mary Jesus' spouse".

The "Gospel of Jesus' Wife", a Coptic papyrus fragment
unveiled in 2012, presents Jesus as speaking of his wife:
"My wife ... she will be able to be my disciple." If genuine, it
appears to date to around the 6th to 9th centuries AD, and
would suggest that some Egyptian Christians of that period
believed that Jesus was married. Although it does not
contain the name of Mary Magdalene, there has been
speculation that she is the woman referred to.
there is substantial scholarly concern about the fragment's
authenticity, with a number of scholars regarding it as a
modern forgery.

Medieval dualism[edit]

13th century Romanesque capitalshowing Jesus and Mary
Magdalene (Noli me tangere)
The 13th-century Cistercian monk and chronicler Peter of
Vaux de Cernay claimed it was part of Catharist belief that
the earthly Jesus Christ had a relationship with Mary
Magdalene, described as his concubine. Quote: "Further, in
their secret meetings they said that the Christ who was born
in the earthly and visible Bethlehem and crucified at
Jerusalem was 'evil', and that Mary Magdalene was his
concubine and that she was the woman taken in adultery
who is referred to in the Scriptures; the 'good' Christ, they
said, neither ate nor drank nor assumed the true flesh and
was never in this world, except spiritually in the body of
Paul. I have used the term 'the earthly and visible
Bethlehem' because the heretics believed there is a
different and invisible earth in which according to some of
them the 'good' Christ was born and crucified".

A document, possibly written by Ermengaud of Bziers,
undated and anonymous and attached to his Treatise
against Heretics,
makes a similar statement.

Also they [the Cathars] teach in their secret
meetings that Mary Magdalene was the wife of
Christ. She was the Samaritan woman to whom He
said, "Call thy husband". She was the woman taken
into adultery, whom Christ set free lest the Jews
stone her, and she was with Him in three places, in
the temple, at the well, and in the garden. After the
Resurrection, He appeared first to her.

Film portrayals[edit]
Year Title Director Actress
1912 From the Manger to the Cross Sidney Olcott Alice Hollister
1914 Mary Magdalene Arthur Maude Constance Crawley
1919 Redenzione Carmine Gallone Diana Karenne
1927 King of Kings Cecil B. DeMille Jacqueline Logan
Mara Magdalena: Pecadora de
Miguel Contreras
Medea de Novara
The Lawton Story a.k.a. The Prince of
William Beaudine Hazel Lee Becker
The Martyr of Calvary a.k.a. El Mrtir
del Calvario
Miguel Morayta Alicia Palacios
1953 Barabbas Alf Sjberg Barbro Hiort af Orns
1957 He Who Must Die Jules Dassin Melina Mercouri
The Sword and the Cross a.k.a. La spada
e la croce
Carlo Ludovico
Yvonne De Carlo
1961 King of Kings a.k.a. Rey de Reyes Nicholas Ray Carmen Sevilla
1961 Barabbas Richard Fleischer Paola Pitagora
1965 The Greatest Story Ever Told George Stevens Joanna Dunham
Andrei Rublev a.k.a. The Passion
According to Andrei
Andrei Tarkovsky Irina Miroshnichenko
1971 Jess, nuestro Seor Miguel Zacaras Nlida Bottini
1973 Jesus Christ Superstar Norman Jewison Yvonne Elliman
1973 Gospel Road: A Story of Jesus Robert Elfstrom June Carter Cash
1977 Jesus of Nazareth Franco Zeffirelli Anne Bancroft
1979 Jesus a.k.a. The Jesus Film John Krish Talia Shapira
1986 The Inquiry Damiano Damiani Lina Sastri
1988 The Last Temptation of Christ Martin Scorsese Barbara Hershey
1990 The Easter Story (animated) Don Lusk
Barbeau (voice)
1993 The Visual Bible: Matthew
Regardt van den
Pippa Duffy
1998 Book of life Hal Hartley PJ Harvey
1999 Mary, Mother of Jesus Kevin Connor Simone Bendix
1999 Jesus Roger Young Debra Messing
The Testaments of One Fold and One
Kieth Merrill Tayva Patch
2000 The Miracle Maker (animated) Derek W. Hayes
Richardson (voice)
2002 Mary Magdalene Close to Jesus Raffaele Mertes Maria Grazia Cucinotta
2003 The Gospel of John Philip Saville Lynsey Baxter
2004 The Passion of the Christ Mel Gibson Monica Bellucci
2006 The Final Inquiry Giulio Base Ornella Muti
2006 The Da Vinci Code Ron Howard Charlotte Graham
2006 Color of the Cross
Jean-Claude La
Marjan Faritous
Is It Real? (episode: "Secrets of the
Shroud"; season 4)
Gary Grieg Libertad Green
2007 Magdalena: Released from Shame
Charlie Jordan
Rebecca Ritz
2008 The Passion (episode 1) Michael Offer Paloma Baeza
2011 Mary of Nazareth Giacomo Campiotti Paz Vega
2013 The Bible (miniseries; 3 episodes) Christopher Spencer Amber Rose Revah
2014 Son of God Christopher Spencer Amber Rose Revah

Richard Earlom, Mary Magdalene Washing Christ's Feet,
1777. Mezzotint on laid paper. Brooklyn Musuem

Mary Magdalene by Juan Bautista Maino

Mary Magdalene by Artemisia Gentileschi

Mary Magdalene by Jos de Ribera

Noli me tangere fresco by Fra Angelico
See also[edit]

Christianity portal
Magdalen Society of Philadelphia
Magdalene Asylum
New Testament people named Mary
Saint Sarah
1. Jump up^ "Saint Mary Magdalen". New Catholic
Dictionary. 1910. Retrieved 2007-02-28.
2. ^ Jump up to:

in Matt
27:56; 27:61; 28:1; Mark
15:40; 15:47; 16:1; 16:9replaces "" with "" because
of the case change). Luke 8:1 says " ...
" and 24:10 says "
". John 19:25, 20:1 and 20:18 all say "
3. ^ Jump up to:




Morrow, Carol Ann. "St. Mary
Magdalene: Redeeming Her Gospel Reputation". The
American Catholic. May 2006 [1]
4. ^ Jump up to:






"Mary Magdalene, the
clichs". BBC, Religions, 2011-07-20.
5. ^ Jump up to:

"Lyons, Eric. "The Real Mary
Magdalene". Apologetics Press". Retrieved 2013-05-07.
6. Jump up^ "Saint Mary Magdalene". In Encyclopdia
Britannica. 2011.
7. Jump up^ Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1, Luke
24:10, John 20:1
8. Jump up^ Thompson, Mary R. Mary of Magdala,
Apostle and Leader. New York: Paulist Press,
1995. ISBN 0-8091-3573-6
9. ^ Jump up to:



Doyle, Ken. "Apostle to the
apostles: The story of Mary
Magdalene".Catholictimes, 11 September
2011 [2] Accessed 13 March 2013
10. Jump up^ Catholic Encyclopedia Online [3].
Accessed 12 Jan 2013
11. ^ Jump up to:

See Marvin Meyer, with Esther A. de
Boer, The Gospels of Mary: The Secret Traditions of
Mary Magdalene the Companion of Jesus (Harper
San Francisco) 2004;Esther de Boer provides an
overview of the source texts excerpted in an essay
"Should we all turn and listen to her?': Mary
Magdalene in the spotlight". pp.74-96.
12. Jump up^ "New Testament names - some Jewish
notes". Retrieved 2013-05-07.
13. Jump up^ John 20:11 and John 20:16.
14. Jump up^ Mariam, The Magdalen, and The Mother,
Deirdre Good, editor, Indiana University
Press,Bloomington, IN 47404-3797. Pages 9-10.
15. Jump up^ "Schenk, Christine CSJ. "Mary of
MagdalaApostle to the Apostles"". Retrieved 2013-05-07.
16. Jump up^ Hufstader, Anselm, "Lefvre d'taples and
the Magdalen", p. 32, Studies in the Renaissance,
Vol. 16, (1969), pp. 31-60, JSTOR
17. Jump up^ "The Penitent Magdalene". The Walters
Art Museum.
18. Jump up^ Richard J. Hooper, The Crucifixion of Mary
Magdalene (Sanctuary Publications 2008 ISBN 978-
0-97469954-7), p. 81
19. Jump up^ Marcella Althaus-Reid, Liberation
Theology and Sexuality (Hymns Ancient and Modern
2009 ISBN 978-0-33404185-6), p. 86
20. ^ Jump up to:

"Who Was Mary Magdalene?". Retrieved 2013-05-07.
21. Jump up^ Haskins, Susan. Mary Magdalene: Myth
and Metaphor. Konecky (1993) ISBN 978-
22. Jump up^ Johnston, 64; the accounts are the Life in
the Golden Legend, French Passion Plays, and her
main subject, the Vie de La Magdaleine by Franois
Demoulins de Rochefort, written 1516-17 (see p. 11)
23. Jump up^ Hufstader, 32-40, and throughout the rest
of the article
24. Jump up^ Haskins, 250
25. Jump up^ Jane Schaberg, The Resurrection of Mary
Magdalene: Legends, Apocrypha and The Christian
Testament, page 88 (New York: The Continuum
International Publishing Group, Inc., 2002). ISBN 0-
26. Jump up^ Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice
Vaticana, 1969), p. 131
27. Jump up^ Calendarium Romanum (1969), p. 98
28. Jump up^ Martyrologium Romanum (Libreria Editrice
Vaticana, 2001, ISBN 978-88-209-7210-3), p. 398
29. Jump up^ Filteau, Jerry "Scholars seek to correct
Christian tradition on Mary Magdalene," Catholic
News Service May 1, 2006. [4]
30. Jump up^ John Trigilio, Jr., Kenneth Brighenti, Saints
For Dummies, pages 52-53 (Wiley Publishing, Inc.,
2010). ISBN 978-0-470-53358-1
31. Jump up^ Larry Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion
to Jesus in Earliest Christianity. 260.
32. Jump up^ Bart D. Ehrman, Peter, Paul and Mary
Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus In History and
Legend (Oxford University Press, 2006). ISBN 0-19-
33. Jump up^ Jackson, Wayne. "Demons: Ancient
Superstition or Historical Reality?" Apologetics Press:
Reason & Revelation. April 1998 - 18[4]:25-31. Web.
26 March 2010.
34. Jump up^ May, Herbert G. and Bruce M. Metzger.
The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha.
35. Jump up^ "Mary & Martha: Friends of Jesus".
36. ^ Jump up to:

Ricci, Carla and Paul Burns. Mary
Magdalene and Many Others. Augsburg Fortress,
1994. ISBN 0-8006-2718-0
37. Jump
38. ^ Jump up to:

Witcombe, 279
39. Jump up^ Witcombe, 282
40. Jump up^ Schiller, II, 116
41. Jump up^ Schiller, II, 152-154
42. Jump up^ Schiller, II, 154-158
43. Jump up^ Robert Kiely, "Picturing the Magdalene:
how artists imagine the apostle to the apostles". [5]
44. Jump up^ Schiller, Gertud, Iconography of Christian
Art, Vol. I, pp. 158-159, 1971 (English trans from
German), Lund Humphries, London, ISBN
45. Jump up^ Ingrid Maisch, Th.D. (1998). Mary
Magdalene: The Image of a Woman Through the
Centuries. Liturgical Press. pp. 49. ISBN 978-0-
8146-2471-5. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
46. Jump up^ Golden Legend: "Mary Magdalene had her
surname of Magdalo, a castle, and was born of right
noble lineage and parents, which were descended of
the lineage of kings. And her father was named
Cyrus, and her mother Eucharis. She with her brother
Lazarus, and her sister Martha, possessed the castle
of Magdalo, which is two miles from Nazareth, and
Bethany, the castle which is nigh to Jerusalem, and
also a great part of Jerusalem, which, all these things
they departed among them. In such wise that Mary
had the castle Magdalo, whereof she had her name
Magdalene. And Lazarus had the part of the city of
Jerusalem, and Martha had to her part Bethany. And
when Mary gave herself to all delights of the body,
and Lazarus entended all to knighthood, Martha,
which was wise, governed nobly her brother's part
and also her sister's, and also her own, and
administered to knights, and her servants, and to poor
men, such necessities as they needed. Nevertheless,
after the ascension of our Lord, they sold all these
things, and brought the value thereof, and laid it at the
feet of the apostles. Then when Magdalene abounded
in riches, and because delight is fellow to riches and
abundance of things; and for so much as she shone
in beauty greatly, and in riches, so much the more
she submitted her body to delight, and therefore she
lost her right name, and was called customably a
47. Jump up^ Thomas F. Head (2001). Medieval
Hagiography: An Anthology. Taylor & Francis Group.
pp. 659. ISBN 978-0-415-93753-5. Retrieved 16
November 2012.
48. ^ Jump up to:



Golden Legend
49. ^ Jump up to:

King, Karen L. "Women In Ancient
Christianity: The New Discoveries". Frontline: The
First Christians. Web: 2 November 2009.
50. ^ Jump up to:

"Gospel of Mary". Retrieved 2013-05-07.
51. ^ Jump up to:



De Boer, Esther A., The Gospel of
Mary Listening to the Beloved Disciple. London:
Continuum, 2006 (2005).
52. Jump up^ Compare with John 20:14-18.
53. Jump up^ I. Miller, Robert J. (Robert Joseph). The
Complete Gospels: Annotated Scholars Version.
Polebridge Press, 1992, p. 365.
54. ^ Jump up to:


The Old and New Testament and
Gnostic contexts and the text are discussed by Robert
M. Grant, "The Mystery of Marriage in the Gospel of
Philip". Vigiliae Christianae 15.3 (September
55. Jump up^ Thayer and Smith. "Greek Lexicon entry
for Koinonos". The New Testament Greek
56. Jump up^ This confusing reference is already in the
original manuscript. It is not clear, if the text refers to
Jesus' or his mother's sister, or whether the intention
is to say something else.
57. ^ Jump up to:

Meyer, Marvin (2004). The Gospel of
Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus.
HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-065581-5.
58. ^ Jump up to:

Ehrman, Bart. Peter, Paul, and Mary
Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and
Legend. Oxford University Press, USA. 2006. ISBN 0-
59. ^ Jump up to:

Hurtak, J.J.; Desiree Hurtak (1999).
Pistis Sophia: A Coptic Text of Gnosis with
Commentary. Los Gatos, CA: Academy for Future
60. Jump up^ Robert Kiefer Webb, Richard J.
Helmstadter (editors), Religion and Irreligion in
Victorian Society: Essays in Honor of R.K. Webb,
page 119 (London: Routledge, 1991).ISBN 0-415-
61. Jump up^ Edgar Saltus, Mary Magdalene: A
Chronicle (New York, Belford company, 1891).
Available from Open Library [6].
62. Jump up^ "The Secret Magdalene". The Secret
Magdalene. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
63. Jump up^ Gregory of Tours, De miraculis, I, xxx.
64. Jump up^ Saxer, La culte de St. Marie Magdalene en
occident (1959).
65. Jump up^ Ecole franaise de Rome, (1992).
66. Jump up^ Jansen 2000.
67. Jump up^ See Franco Mormando, "Virtual Death in
the Middle Ages: The Apotheosis of Mary Magdalene
in Popular Preaching", in Death and Dying in the
Middle Ages, ed. Edelgard DuBruck and Barbara I.
Gusick, New York, Peter Lang, 1999, pp. 257-74.
68. Jump up^ See Johnston, 111-115 on the rise and fall
of Vzelay as a cult centre
69. Jump up^ "the Abbey of Vesoul" in William Caxton's
70. Jump up^ See Franco Mormando, "Teaching the
Faithful to Fly: Mary Magdalene and Peter in Baroque
Italy" in Saints and Sinners: Caravaggio and the
Baroque Image, Chestnut Hill, MA, McMullen
Museum of Art, 1999, pp. 107-135.
71. Jump up^ Deborah Rose, "So, Really ... Who was
72. Jump up^ Patricia Kasten, "A great saint with a big
case of mistaken identity"
73. Jump up^ John Rivera, "Restoring Mary Magdalene"
in "Worldwide Religious News", The Baltimore Sun,
April 18, 2003
74. Jump up^ Mclaughlin, Lisa and David Van Biema.
"Mary Magdalene Saint or Sinner?",
August 11, 2003. Accessed 7 June 2009
75. Jump up^ Bart Ehrman, Peter, Paul, and Mary
Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and
Legend (Oxford University Press, 2006, ISBN 978-0-
19974113-7), p. 253
76. ^ Jump up to:

Darrell L. Bock, Breaking The Da
Vinci Code (Thomas Nelson 2004 ISBN 978-1-
41851338-2), pp. 143-144
77. Jump up^ Katherine Ludwig Jansen, The Making of
the Magdalen (Princeton University Press 2001 ISBN
978-0-69108987-4), p. 63
78. Jump up^ Jane Schaberg, The Resurrection of Mary
Magdalene (Bloomsbury 2004 ISBN 978-1-44114175-
0), p. 88
79. Jump up^ Patrologia Latina, vol. 112, col. 1474B
80. Jump up^ PL 112, 1475A
81. Jump up^ In the text of Rabanus Maurus, the word
used is apostola, the feminine form ofapostolus.
82. Jump up^ Raymond Edward Brown, The Community
of the Beloved Disciple (Paulist Press 1979 ISBN
978-0-80912174-8), p. 190
83. Jump up^ Brown (1979), pp. 189-190
84. Jump up^ "Mulieris Dignitatem, John Paul II, 15
August 1988 - Apostolic Letter". 1988-08-
15. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
85. Jump up^ J. Frank Henderson, "The Disappearance
of the Feast of Mary Magdalene from the Anglican
Liturgy" (2004), pp. 1-4
86. Jump up^ Henderson (2004), pp. 8-14
87. Jump up^ H.D. Egan, An Anthology of Christian
mysticism, Pueblo Publishing Co. (1992), pp.407ff.;
cf. also, C. Bourgeault,The Meaning of Mary
Magdalene: Discovering the Woman at the Heart of
Christianity, Shambhala Publ. (2010), passim.
88. Jump up^ T. Coletti, Mary Magdalene and the Drama
of Saints, University of Pennsylvania Press (2004); E.
De Boer, Mary Magdalene: Beyond the Myth, SCM
Press (1997), pp.94ff.
89. Jump up^ Evangelical Lutheran Worship, Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America, 2006, p. 57
90. Jump up^ Abernethy and Beaty, The Folklore of
Texan Cultures, Denton University of North Texas
Press, 2000, p. 261.
91. Jump up^ Juliet Thompson, I, Mary Magdalene,
92. Jump up^ `Abdu'l-Bah, The Promulgation of
Universal Peace, p. 420
93. Jump up^ `Abdu'l-Bah, Bah' World Faith - `Abdu'l-
Bah Section, p. 385
94. Jump up^ `Abdu'l-Bah in London, p. 105
95. Jump up^ `Abdu'l-Bah, Divine Philosophy, p. 50
96. Jump up^ `Abdu'l-Bah, Tablets of the Divine Plan,
pp. 39-40
97. Jump up^ `Abdu'l-Bah, Tablets of `Abdu'l-Bah
Vol.2, p. 467
98. Jump up^ Mazal, Peter (2003-10-21). "Selected
Topics of Comparison in Christianity and the Bah'
Faith". Retrieved 2006-06-25.
99. Jump up^ Brown, Raymond E. 1970. "The Gospel
According to John (xiii-xxi)". New York: Doubleday &
Co. Pages 922, 955.
100. Jump up^ Doubleday 1991 ISBN 978-0-
38519396-2; Geoffrey Chapman 1994 ISBN 0-225-
101. Jump up^ The mentions of the Beloved Disciple
in the work are listed in the Index of Subjects, p.
102. Jump up^ St. Mary Magdalen, New Advent.
103. Jump up^ Pope, H. (1910). St. Mary Magdalen,
in The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert
Appleton Company.
104. Jump up^ Note also that it is Mary Magdalene,
among with other women, in Mark 16:1 who goes to
Jesus' grave to anoint him.
105. Jump up^ "The Gospel According to Mary
Magdalene". Gnostic Scriptures and Fragments; The
Gnostic Society of America. [7]
106. Jump up^ Katherine Ludwig Jansen, The
Making of The Magdalen: Preaching and Popular
Devotion In The Later Middle Ages, page 151,
footnote 20 (Princeton University Press, 2000). ISBN
0-691-08987-6. Citing Cavalca, Vita, 329; Life, 2-3.
107. Jump up^ Katherine Ludwig Jansen, citing
Jacques Levron, Le bon roi Ren (Paris: Arthaud,
108. Jump up^
[dead link]

109. Jump up^ The Christ Files: How Historians
Know What They Know About Jesus, John Dickson,
p. 95 (Sydney South: Blue Bottle Books, 2006). ISBN
110. Jump up^ Jeffrey John Kripal, The Serpent's
Gift: Gnostic Reflections on the Study of Religion, p.
52 (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press,
2007). ISBN 0-226-45380-4 ISBN 0-226-45381-2
111. Jump up^ B. D. Ehrman, Peter, Paul, and Mary
Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and
Legend. New York: Oxford, 2006. p. 248.
112. Jump
113. Jump
114. Jump
115. Jump
116. Jump up^ W.A. Sibly, M.D. Sibly, The History of
the Albigensian Crusade: Peter of les Vaux-de-
Cernay's "Historia Albigensis" (Boydell, 1998). ISBN
117. Jump up^ Christian Churches of God. "The
Treatise of Ermengaudus (No. B8)".
Retrieved 2012-08-13.
118. Jump up^ Anne Bradford Townsend, The
Cathars of Languedoc as heretics: From the
Perspectives of Five Contemporary Scholars, page
147 (UMI Microform, ProQuest, 2008). PhD
Dissertation [8]
119. Jump up^ Walter L. Wakefield, Austin P.
Evans, Heresies of the High Middle Ages: Translated
with Notes, page 234 (New York: Columbia University
Press, 1991). ISBN 0-231-02743-5. The authors
speculate on page 230 that this could have been the
source used by Peter of Vaux de Cernay.
"Life of Mary Magdalen", William Caxton's English
version of the Golden Legend of Jacobus de Voragine
Johnston, Barbara, "Sacred Kingship and Royal
Patronage in the La Vie de la Magdalene: Pilgrimage,
Politics, Passion Plays, and the Life of Louise of Savoy"
(Florida State), R. Neuman, Dissertation, PDF, 88-93
Witcombe, Christopher L. C. E., The Chapel of the
Courtesan and the Quarrel of the Magdalens, The Art
Bulletin, Vol. 84, No. 2 (Jun., 2002), pp. 273
292, JSTOR
Further reading[edit]
Acocella, Joan. "The Saintly Sinner: The Two-Thousand-
Year Obsession with Mary Magdalene". The New Yorker,
February 13 & 20, 2006, p. 14049. Prompted by
controversy surrounding Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code.
Brock, Ann Graham. Mary Magdalene, The First Apostle:
The Struggle for Authority. Cambridge,
Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-
674-00966-5. Discusses issues of apostolic authority in
the gospels and the Gospel of Peter the competition
between Peter and Mary, especially in chapter 7, "The
Replacement of Mary Magdalene: A Strategy for
Eliminating the Competition".
Burstein, Dan, and Arne J. De Keijzer. Secrets of Mary
Magdalene. New York: CDS Books, 2006. ISBN 1-59315-
De Boer Esther A., Mary Magdalene, beyond the
Myth (SCM Press London, 1997).
Jurgen Moltmann and E. Moltmann-Wendel, Humanity in
God (London: SCM, 1984).
Jansen, Katherine Ludwig. The Making of the Magdalen:
Preaching and Popular Devotion in the Later Middle Ages.
Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2000. ISBN 0-
Kripal, Jeffrey John. (2007). The Serpent's Gift: Gnostic
Reflections on the Study of Religion.Chicago: The
University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-45380-4 ISBN 0-
Pearson, Birger A. "Did Jesus Marry?". Bible Review,
Spring 2005, pp 3239 & 47. Discussion
of complete texts.
Picknett, Lynn, and Clive Prince. The Templar Revelation.
New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997. ISBN 0-593-03870-3.
Presents a hypothesis that Mary Magdalene was a
priestess who was Jesus' partner in a sacred marriage.
Shoemaker, Stephen J. "Rethinking the Gnostic Mary:
Mary of Nazareth and Mary of Magdala in Early Christian
Tradition". in Journal of Early Christian Studies, 9 (2001)
pp 555595.
Thiering, Barbara. Jesus the Man: Decoding the Real
Story of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. New York: Simon &
Schulster (Atria Books), 2006. ISBN 1-4165-4138-1.
Wellborn, Amy. De-coding Mary Magdalene: Truth,
Legend, and Lies. Huntington, Indiana: Our Sunday
Visitor, 2006. ISBN 1-59276-209-3. A straightforward
accounting of what is well-known of Mary Magdalene.
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