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More on Mary Magdala in Philip

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  • Darrell Bock
    Thank you for the invitation to be a part of this discussion. Here are my comments on Philip having finally looked at the passage in question. What we have in
    Message 1 of 6 , Mar 13, 2006
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      Thank you for the invitation to be a part of this discussion. Here
      are my comments on Philip having finally looked at the passage in
      question. What we have in Philip is apparently a reference to three
      Mary's: one the mother, one the sister and one a companion The third
      term used to describe mary Magdalene is not one of the gune family
      (and Coptic has many Greek loan words, so this is quite possible),
      That would be the clearest term to use for a wife. Since Mary Magdala
      travelled with Jesus as even Luke 8:1-3 notes, a description of her
      as a companion is not surprising. At best, this reference is
      ambiguous and not clear. Of course, in addition, there is the
      question of what historical information this text truly gives us
      since it is a late text. if this were a reference to marriage it
      would be the only one out of myriads of texts that discuss Jesus from
      the first five centuries. This is another reason to be skeptical of a
      marriage reading. This evidence is why the claim of Jesus being
      married is generally regarded as false by almost every historical
      Jesus scholar who works in the area.

      Darrell Bock


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • peterson@austingrad.edu
      Darrell Bock writes: Of course, in addition, there is the ... No disagreement here, but we ought to clearly distinguish the question of how GPhil depicts
      Message 2 of 6 , Mar 13, 2006
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        Darrell Bock writes:

        Of course, in addition, there is the
        > question of what historical information this text truly gives us
        > since it is a late text. if this were a reference to marriage it
        > would be the only one out of myriads of texts that discuss Jesus from
        > the first five centuries. This is another reason to be skeptical of a
        > marriage reading. This evidence is why the claim of Jesus being
        > married is generally regarded as false by almost every historical
        > Jesus scholar who works in the area

        No disagreement here, but we ought to clearly distinguish the question of
        how GPhil depicts Mary's relation to Jesus from the question of the
        historical value of this depiction. A description of Mary as Jesus' wife
        by a second-century Christian gnostic is an important datum if we're
        interested in learning about the kinds of speculation current about Jesus
        at that period in those circles; even as (say) the depiction of Jesus'
        mother as perpetually a virgin in the Protoevangelium of James is
        important for how the proto-orthodox understood Jesus. A modern historian
        will subject both depictions to cross-examination and seek to identify the
        interests of the authors in creating or promulgating those traditions,
        taking such interests into account before pronouncing on the actual
        circumstances of Jesus' origin or his adult relations with women, and so
        with all the evidence we have. (I haven't investigated GPhil and so don't
        have anything to contribute on how it describes the Magdalene; just
        offering a point of method occasioned by Darrell's comment.)

        Jeff Peterson
        Austin Graduate School of Theology
        Austin, Texas
      • John C. Poirier
        Darrell, Thanks for responding to my points. Before digging in, let me first say that I m team-teaching a course on *The Da Vinci Code* at my church, and that
        Message 3 of 6 , Mar 13, 2006
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          Darrell,

          Thanks for responding to my points. Before digging in, let me first say
          that I'm team-teaching a course on *The Da Vinci Code* at my church, and
          that I recommended your book (along with those of Ehrman and Olson/Meisel),
          which is very well written.

          Please understand that I agree with your main point about the marital status
          of the historical Jesus. I do not think, even for an instant, that what the
          *Gospel of Philip* claims about Jesus' marital status (no matter what it
          does claim) can possibly tell us anything about the historical Jesus. Not
          only is the dating of the gospel and all its traditions too great a problem
          for this, but so also is the fact that the theological payoff from Mary
          Magdalene's relationship to Jesus is transparently Gnostic, and perhaps even
          distinctively Valentinian (in that the references to kissing on the mouth
          are probably tied in to the sacrament of "the bridal chamber" [which I do
          not think was a sexual ritual]). (I think I witnessed the effective end of
          a scholar's career at the Haverford Conference in 1995 when she [I'm not
          saying who] suggested that the core of the *Gospel of Philip* actually goes
          back to the historical Philip!) I would also suggest that the original
          readers of this gospel, assuming they read *hotre* the same way I do, did
          not envision the marriage between Jesus and Mary Magdalene to be a "marriage
          of defilement" (*viz.* a sexual relationship) but only a spiritual marriage.
          A sexual Jesus is just as unthinkable for Valentinians as a suffering Jesus
          is for Basilideans.

          I also apologize if tying your discussion too closely to your source's use
          of "intellectual" is a caricature. I would only say that the word jumped
          out at me, and no doubt it probably jumped out at other readers as well,
          including those who are not equipped to judge its propriety.

          But I'm still puzzled by the Montanist bit. Having looked a good deal at
          this movement, I'd be very surprised if I missed a reference somewhere (esp.
          in Irenaeus) to their attempting to add something to the canonical gospels.
          (I'm relieved, however, to learn that your opinion rests on a written source
          and not [as I had feared] on a belief that the supposed continuation of
          prophecy somehow constitutes a reopening of the NT canon!)

          John C. Poirier

          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "Darrell Bock" <DBockDTS@...>
          To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Monday, March 13, 2006 11:19 AM
          Subject: [XTalk] More on Mary Magdala in Philip


          > Thank you for the invitation to be a part of this discussion. Here
          > are my comments on Philip having finally looked at the passage in
          > question. What we have in Philip is apparently a reference to three
          > Mary's: one the mother, one the sister and one a companion The third
          > term used to describe mary Magdalene is not one of the gune family
          > (and Coptic has many Greek loan words, so this is quite possible),
          > That would be the clearest term to use for a wife. Since Mary Magdala
          > travelled with Jesus as even Luke 8:1-3 notes, a description of her
          > as a companion is not surprising. At best, this reference is
          > ambiguous and not clear. Of course, in addition, there is the
          > question of what historical information this text truly gives us
          > since it is a late text. if this were a reference to marriage it
          > would be the only one out of myriads of texts that discuss Jesus from
          > the first five centuries. This is another reason to be skeptical of a
          > marriage reading. This evidence is why the claim of Jesus being
          > married is generally regarded as false by almost every historical
          > Jesus scholar who works in the area.
          >
          > Darrell Bock
          >
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
          >
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          >
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        • dbockdts
          My response is to both Jeff and John: I am open to a discussion of a spiritual marriage of Jesus with Mary in a Gnostic text. He would be seen, I think, to be
          Message 4 of 6 , Mar 13, 2006
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            My response is to both Jeff and John:

            I am open to a discussion of a spiritual marriage of Jesus with Mary in a Gnostic text. He
            would be seen, I think, to be married to any believer in that sense. My sole concern in my
            argument is that this is not a "marriage" in the sense we normally think about the term
            today. And I would add that the idea of a "platonic, spiritual marriage" in the first century
            with Jesus and anyone is unlikely, given Paul's remarks in 1 Cor 7. If such a thing had been
            done, that text woudl be a perfect palce to have allowd for it. So we are left with Jeff's
            point that in terms of method we shoudl ferret out what was beleived in the second
            century as a possible beleif of some. With this point I also agree.

            What I believe is clear from today's string is that the evidence for marraige in the normal
            sense of the term for Jesus and Mary is still virtually nil.

            On Montanism: My point about addition here for Irenaeus is not just about additional
            texts, although that could be included, but additioonal teaching of Jesus in virtually any
            form. If the four gospels give us Jesus for him, then such additions, whether oral or
            written, would be a problem. They would lack the apostolic roots so important for him
            having surfaced so late.

            Good discussion all. A nice welcome to the group.

            Darrell Bock


            --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, peterson@... wrote:
            >
            > Darrell Bock writes:
            >
            > Of course, in addition, there is the
            > > question of what historical information this text truly gives us
            > > since it is a late text. if this were a reference to marriage it
            > > would be the only one out of myriads of texts that discuss Jesus from
            > > the first five centuries. This is another reason to be skeptical of a
            > > marriage reading. This evidence is why the claim of Jesus being
            > > married is generally regarded as false by almost every historical
            > > Jesus scholar who works in the area
            >
            > No disagreement here, but we ought to clearly distinguish the question of
            > how GPhil depicts Mary's relation to Jesus from the question of the
            > historical value of this depiction. A description of Mary as Jesus' wife
            > by a second-century Christian gnostic is an important datum if we're
            > interested in learning about the kinds of speculation current about Jesus
            > at that period in those circles; even as (say) the depiction of Jesus'
            > mother as perpetually a virgin in the Protoevangelium of James is
            > important for how the proto-orthodox understood Jesus. A modern historian
            > will subject both depictions to cross-examination and seek to identify the
            > interests of the authors in creating or promulgating those traditions,
            > taking such interests into account before pronouncing on the actual
            > circumstances of Jesus' origin or his adult relations with women, and so
            > with all the evidence we have. (I haven't investigated GPhil and so don't
            > have anything to contribute on how it describes the Magdalene; just
            > offering a point of method occasioned by Darrell's comment.)
            >
            > Jeff Peterson
            > Austin Graduate School of Theology
            > Austin, Texas
            >
          • Bob Schacht
            ... Welcome, Darrell! I want to come at this from a different direction. First, it seems obvious to me that all four canonical Gospels show a Jesus that is
            Message 5 of 6 , Mar 13, 2006
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              At 08:09 PM 3/13/2006, dbockdts wrote:
              >My response is to both Jeff and John:
              >
              >I am open to a discussion of a spiritual marriage of Jesus with Mary in a
              >Gnostic text. He would be seen, I think, to be married to any believer in
              >that sense. My sole concern in my argument is that this is not a
              >"marriage" in the sense we normally think about the term today. And I
              >would add that the idea of a "platonic, spiritual marriage" in the first
              >century with Jesus and anyone is unlikely, given Paul's remarks in 1 Cor
              >7. If such a thing had been done, that text woudl be a perfect palce to
              >have allowd for it. So we are left with Jeff's point that in terms of
              >method we shoudl ferret out what was beleived in the second century as a
              >possible beleif of some. With this point I also agree.
              >
              >What I believe is clear from today's string is that the evidence for
              >marraige in the normal sense of the term for Jesus and Mary is still
              >virtually nil.

              Welcome, Darrell!

              I want to come at this from a different direction.

              First, it seems obvious to me that all four canonical Gospels show a Jesus
              that is very concerned with relationships. And yet, discussion of marital
              relationships is hard to find. Oh, yes, there is the Marriage at Cana,
              which is really not much about marriage, and there are the parables of the
              marriage feasts, which are not much about marriage, either. And there's the
              famous non-marriage of the Samaritan Woman at the Well (or maybe I should
              write "the woman at the Samaritan well.") At times, Jesus almost seems
              hostile to family life, like the passage where Jesus' family comes to get
              him, saying he's out of his mind, and Jesus rebukes them, asking "who are
              my brothers and my sisters?"

              But for a work written in Greek about human relationships, one fact has
              always stood out for me as a thunderous silence: The absolute absence of
              references to eros, in any context whatsoever, pro or con, problematic or
              not problematic. Not only in the Gospels, but also in the letters of Paul.
              Or anywhere else in the NT. It is not, for example, that Paul avoided the
              subject of sex. He pointedly did not. But about eros, he says not a single
              word. This to me is astounding. It cannot be an accident.

              I have a speculation about this, and that is that eros was an unsolved
              problem for the friends of Jesus, and maybe even for Jesus himself. Perhaps
              Jesus' relationship with Mary Magdalene was conflicted and unresolved. So
              (or so goes my speculation) because of this, and because of the problems
              raised by it, at some point in the first century, before any of the
              surviving manuscripts were written, everything about eros, everything
              connected in any way with eros, was systematically and thoroughly expunged
              as an embarrassment about which nothing should be said. This would include
              any marriage relationship that Jesus might have had.

              So it seems to me that the lack of information about any marriage of Jesus
              exists in the context of a lack of information about eros and marriage
              relationships.

              This is why the new analysis of The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and
              the First Woman Apostle, by Karen King may be so important! Not only is
              Jesus' relationship with Mary examined, but also an argument is made that
              the document may be much earlier than previously supposed.

              Bob






              Robert M. Schacht, Ph.D.
              University of Hawaii
              Honolulu, HI

              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Gordon Raynal
              On Mar 14, 2006, at 1:55 AM, Bob Schacht wrote: Hi Bob, ... What do you then make of: a. Jesus teaching on divorce? Mark says Jesus cites the Genesis passage
              Message 6 of 6 , Mar 14, 2006
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                On Mar 14, 2006, at 1:55 AM, Bob Schacht wrote:

                Hi Bob,

                > At times, Jesus almost seems
                > hostile to family life, like the passage where Jesus' family comes to
                > get
                > him, saying he's out of his mind, and Jesus rebukes them, asking "who
                > are
                > my brothers and my sisters?"

                What do you then make of:
                a. Jesus' teaching on divorce? Mark says Jesus cites the Genesis
                passage about "two shall become one flesh?" which undergirds the very
                positive view of human sexuality in the Hebraic tradition. (Mark
                10:1-11)
                b. Jesus' love for children? Mark's Jesus uses children as models of
                KOG citizens and we know how children get here:)!
                c. The Mission program of the 72? (Luke 10:1 ff) If one reads this
                in relationship to what Paul says in I Cor. 9:5 then it would seem that
                the norms for the pairs during Jesus' life and afterwards were male
                and female? There is no language of command against the norms
                of human intimacy within the bonds of marriage. And if one looks at
                Paul's various mentions of people included are mentions of husbands
                and wives (Prisca and Aquila), parents and children (Rufus and his
                mother), and mention that Paul baptized families (Stephanas'
                household)
                mentioned in I Cor. 1. Just to emphasize Paul notes that Peter was
                married (and of course Mark speaks of Peter's mother-in-law) and that
                the brothers of the Lord all had female partners (however one wants to
                deal with "believing wives" as the NRSV translates it).

                What do you make of this?
                >
                > But for a work written in Greek about human relationships, one fact has
                > always stood out for me as a thunderous silence: The absolute absence
                > of
                > references to eros, in any context whatsoever, pro or con, problematic
                > or
                > not problematic. Not only in the Gospels, but also in the letters of
                > Paul.
                > Or anywhere else in the NT. It is not, for example, that Paul avoided
                > the
                > subject of sex. He pointedly did not. But about eros, he says not a
                > single
                > word. This to me is astounding. It cannot be an accident.

                How do you then interpret Paul's language in I Corinthians 7:1 ff.
                Note especially, "The husband should give his wife her conjugal rights
                and likewise the wife to her husband... Do not deprive one another
                except perhaps for a set time, to devote yourselves to prayer, and
                then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of
                your lack of self control." (I Cor. 7:3, 5)

                Now that sounds pretty pro- eros to me.
                >
                > I have a speculation about this, and that is that eros was an unsolved
                > problem for the friends of Jesus, and maybe even for Jesus himself.

                How does the above fit into your "speculation?"

                Gordon Raynal
                Inman, SC
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