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Christianity / Apocryphal gospels /
Gospel of Mary Magdalene
Also called: Gospel of Mary

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In Christianity, apocryphal gospel dating most probably to the first half of the 2nd century CE. The text was discovered in 1896, the oldest available manuscript dates back to the 5th century.

There are no unambiguous indications to which Mary is in question here. Most scholars agree that it must be Mary Magdalene, yet there are theories that it was the Virgin Mary, Jesus' mother. The Mary of this gospel appears also in other apocryphal gospels, and is by all means best considered the same person as the Mary Magdalene of the canonical gospels.

The Gospel of Mary Magdalene is a dialogue gospel, and usually considered to belong to the Gnostic orientation. This gospel contradicts the image of Mary as seen in the canonical gospels, as a prostitute or a repentant sinner.
The main focus of the text are not the acts and sayings of Jesus. Jesus is central in the early passages, but this appears mainly as a build-up to his transferring of authority to Mary. What happens to Jesus is not clear from the text, it states only that "... He departed" (4:39).
Chapter 8 tells about Mary obtaining wisdom and insight in a manner that resembles Gnosticism. It may be suggested that this is a reflection of a certain Gnostic orientation in which Mary was the true carrier of truth, the true gnosis.
This gospel promotes Mary as a leading figure among the followers of Jesus, but also reflects the opposition to her. In Chapter 9 she is promoted as the first among the disciples, as Levi says: "...the Savior made her worthy..." (9:8) This is opposed by Peter, whose sole objection appears to be that she is a woman (9:4). It has been suggested that this passage expresses a conflict between two orientations in early Christianity. This gospel's presentation of Peter as an opponent of Jesus is not unique to the Gospel of Mary, it is also expressed in one verse in Mark (8:33).

By Tore Kjeilen