MM as the BD?...
- In her Sunday, July 11, 2004 2:29 AM post, Elaine wrote this of Mary Magdalene:
"MM is obscured by male power structures that need to present an overtly patriarchal system; but she cannot be dismissed because the very foundation of Christianity depends upon her vital witness to the mission, death and resurrection of the Christ."
I have two questions for Elaine about this statement.
1 - To say that "the very foundation of Christianity depends upon her vital witness" is a very bold statement. I have submitted, some time ago, an article defending a similar theory. But its publication was refused on the ground that what I was saying was not scholarly enough. It seems to me that the same thing can be said of Elaine's statement. I suggest, therefore, that we work together on the elaboration of a scholarly discourse on this question.
2 - In my paper, I had restricted the uniqueness of MM's role to her being the first witness of the resurrection. I was tempted to add here "the sole witness", but I found such a statement unacceptable. In my view, the Easter experience can be communicated to others and relived by them, simply because it is a spiritual one. In this sense, a mystical experience can be transmitted to others, who become mystics in their own right. In Islam, there are schools of mystics. "It is enough to join them to become one of them". One can become a mystic almost as one can become a medical doctor. I tend to see Mary Magdalene as the head of a new mystical movement based on the belief in the resurrection. Many have seen the resurrected Christ based on the initial experience of MM. This does not make their personal experiences any less authentic.
In relation to the witnessing of "the mission and death of the Christ", MM was one of many other witnesses. She does not seem to have enjoyed any exclusive revelation. In this regard, therefore, many have enjoyed the privilege of witnessing the historical events, which took place during the life of Jesus.
* * *
I wish to go back now to an earlier post, which discusses the fact that Jesus had exorcised MM. Elaine quotes Luke 8:2 ("Mary, who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out.") and goes on to say:
"Realizing that the way males and females were viewed in the contemporary 1st century culture placed women on a par with cattle, we might see how the frame of reference might be: In reaching a state of spiritual perfection a man has 'reached the seventh heaven' while a woman has had 'seven demons cast out of her'."
(Elaine's post of July 9, 04)
I would not dispute this cultural way of thinking. But this cultural fact does not mean that what is said in Luke 8:2 and Mark 16:9 does not refer to an historical event.
As a matter of fact, in the paper I have mentioned earlier, I see in MM's possession the sign of a very fragile psychological nature. Possession is likely to be a psychological or mental disturbance. So I tend to see in MM a very sensitive person. Her love for the Lord must have been very deep. She must have been extremely emotive. The catastrophic death of Jesus was more than she could bear. I see her on the brink of total collapse, when salvation came to her in the form of a deep feeling that the Lord was alive and communicating with her. A spiritual or mystical experience of this nature was enough to make her stop looking for Jesus among the dead, and to proclaim him alive.
The line between authentic scholarship and theological correctness can be easily blurred. My paper could have been rejected as much for this as for that. But this is not the point that interests me here. I am much more interested in elaborating an exegetical discourse based on a sound reading of the texts and an intelligent reconstruction of what must have taken place. The case of Mary Magdalene is particularly fascinating in this regard.
Please feel free to comment. I believe in teamwork. But in order to open new avenues, we must be willing to reconsider our views and improve our methodology.
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