The discovery of a recent piece of papyrus that quotes Jesus using the words “my wife” and saying that “she will be able to be my disciple” has re-ignited discussion about the possibility that Mary Magdalene was the wife of Jesus. (New York Times September 18, 2012)
In the traditional Christian view, Jesus was thought to be unmarried, but stories have continued to surface pointing to the possibility that he was married and to Magdalene. The traditional view of Magdalene is that she was a sinner and a prostitute, as well as a follower of Jesus. In our previous blog, we explored some of the stories told about Mary Magdalene that created the perception that she was a prostitute, even though there is no evidence of that in the Bible. In fact, a very different story may be true. A document was discovered in 1896 called the Gospel of Mary Magdalene that provides evidence that she was a leader in the early Christian church, along with Jesus. Read the previous blog.
By 325, Christianity had become the official religion of Rome. The Emperor Constantine convened a council at Nicaea at which it was decided which gospels would go in the Bible and which ones would be excluded. There were many gospels to choose from, and those chosen emphasized the idea of the divine Christ and supported the need for a church with hierarchy, rules, laws, and power. The excluded texts, which emphasized the divine within humans, were banned, which might explain why they were buried in the desert and not found for hundreds of years. The excluded texts, including the Gospel of Mary, became known as the Gnostic gospels. They emphasized the ability of each human to know the truth for themselves, without a need for higher authorities like priests.
Women were attracted to early Christianity was because they were allowed to participate, along with men. This was a dramatic contrast to the Jewish religion and others at that time. In fact, there is evidence in the Bible that there were women followers of Christ. Read more…