Re: Mary Magdalene In Context
- Robert Davis wrote: "First of all, the fact that Mary Magdalene
is more positively mentioned in some of the Gnostic literature is a
clue that something was up with her when it came to the
I'm not sure we can conclude that. Everything I've seen
recently has been making the assumption that texts from the late
second or third centuries, G. Philip, G. Mary, are more or less of
equivalent value with the first century orthodox gospels. We on
Crosstalk2 know this isn't so, of course. Still, I think it does not
chronologically follow that a literary trope found in Philip and G.
Mary allows us to make inferences as to what was up in texts written
a century or more earlier.
On the other hand, I tend to think that G Thomas 114 was added in
the late second or third century because it fits that trope period.
(How's that for a new usage?) Maybe I'm wrong and one can use
GTh 114 as evidence for the first century relevance of GPhilip and
GMary. But, heck, shouldn't this be argued out by somebody?
And: "However, I am not certain it says much more than that. We
need to recall that Gnostic Christianity, too, had an agenda, one
which was just as much in charge of the shaping of its own
literature as was emergent Catholicism of its literature."
As the term is used nowadays, "Gnostic Christianity" covers
just about everything that isn't nailed down solid orthodox.
That's one reason so many wish the term would just go away. But it
won't. I think the best analogy for Gnosticism then is New Age now.
And if we look either into the NH Library or on the Barnes and Noble
New Age bookshelves we find all kinds of stuff. With the good
Orthodox Christian stuff all carefully put on other bookshelves.
And: "It would be wrong, I believe, to assume that the Gnostic
literature automatically gives us a more accurate view of Mary
Magdalene herself or of any potential relationship she may have had
with Jesus. It is a starting point, to be sure, but not much more
That's for sure. But even according to the Orthodox Scriptures we
have Mary as a woman with insanity in her recent past who sees a
gardener and thinks it is her deceased friend. That doesn't add
up to a whole lot to me.
And: ``However, it is the contextual issue that interests me
here-- How does narrowing the historical and literary question to
this single context ["The Palestinian Context"] help us or hinder us
from constructing a more accurate view of Mary Magdalene--or, for
that matter, other members of the early `Jesus family?'"
I don't think we have anything like enough information to speak
about The Palestinian Context of anything except, perhaps, military
and political affairs. What do we have besides Josephus and the Word
of God? Using the latter to deduce the Palestinian Context of things
in it, such as Mary Magdalene, seems to beg the question. And the
former is irrelevant, I'd say, to questions about the
relationships between Galilean working-class itinerants.