Friday, September 5, 2014

Mary Magdalene authored the 4th G.


When I first heard the idea that Mary Magdalene authored the Fourth Gospel, I dismissed it as a half-baked feminist idea. As a feminist I could believe it possible, but too radical, too unorthodox, for sufficient credible evidence to be found. I was wrong.

I no longer doubt that Magdalene was the original author of this unique Gospel, because of an article by Ramon Jusino. Notice it is a man’s name. And he bases his assertions on the work of Raymond Brown, acknowledged as the foremost authority on the 4th Gospel, although Brown did not conclude that Mary Magdalene was the author.

Here I give the crux of Jusino’s clear and cogent argument. For the full presentation of his case plus citations, read Mary Magdalene: Author of the Fourth Gospel?
These background statements are virtually undisputed by scripture scholars, some of them strengthened by Brown:
[Mary Magdalene] is cited by all four Gospels as being present at both the Crucifixion of Jesus and the Empty Tomb on the morning of the Resurrection.

 . . . the prominent role of female disciples . . . quickly became an embarrassment to the male leaders of the emerging institutional church [who] . . . made a concerted effort . . . to suppress the knowledge of any major contributions made by female disciples.
Works of antiquity go through modifications or redactions, but the acknowledged author “is the person whose ideas the book expresses.”
The Beloved Disciple of the 4th Gospel “knew Jesus personally and was in the originating group of the Johannine Community.”
The final version of the gospel was written after the death of the Beloved Disciple.

The previous are common conclusions. Here come Jusino's clinching arguments for Magdalene authorship.

Seven puzzling passages in the 4th Gospel refer to an anonymous Beloved Disciple. The traditional belief that it was John and he authored the Gospel is based on a claim by Irenaeus that has little credibility and Brown rejected.
The Beloved Disciple “was clearly the founder and hero of the community that produced this Gospel,” writes Jusino. Mary Magdalene, the female founder, would have been an embarrassing fact for a community striving to go mainstream.

Raymond Brown found a schism in the early history of the Johannine community between those aligned with Gnostics and those striving to be orthodox. Gnostics were more accepting of female leaders. The orthodox were more willing to conform to the emerging church hierarchy.

Mary Magdalene is identified as the Beloved Disciple in the Gnostic works, the Gospel of Philip, the Gospel of Thomas, and the Gospel of Mary. In the last, Peter asks sullenly,
Did [Jesus] really speak with a woman without our knowledge (and) not openly? Are we to turn about and all listen to her?  Did he prefer her to us?
WHY, in the canonical version of the Gospel we have, is the Beloved Disciple assumed to be a man? Brown wrote, "Gnostic writers spawned a tradition naming Mary Magdalene as the disciple whom Jesus loved . . .”  Jusino thinks those who wanted to join the institutional Church redacted the Gospel to remove Mary Magdalene’s name and turn the Beloved Disciple into a man.

Raymond Brown did not reach Jusino’s conclusion, but Jusino built on Brown’s research. His conclusion makes sense in light of it. The evidence:
Brown’s research reveals “abundant evidence of familiarity with Johannine ideas” in Gnostic works unearthed at Nag Hammadi.  The 4th Gospel was popular among Gnostics early on when it was first conceived.

Structural oddities and flaws in seven passages support Jusino’s view. Concealing the fact that the B.D. was a woman would explain their mysterious references to an unidentified disciple, a mystery cleared up if a redactor took out Mary Magdalene’s name and turned the B.D. into a man.
Two passages were harder for the redactor to fix:
John 19: 25-27. Why is the B.D. not included in the list of people standing by the cross when that disciple takes in the mother of Jesus?  Brown noted this problem. It is solved if Mary Magdalene is the B. D.

The other passage most obviously betraying the awkward hand of a redactor concealing the Magdalene’s identity occurs in John 29:1-11. Peter and the other supposedly male disciple race to the tomb, after which Mary suddenly is there weeping at the tomb.  Brown observed,
It is not clear when or how Magdalene got back to the tomb.
Jusino gives a satisfying solution to the puzzles in these passages, and he provides more corroborating evidence. Brown noted,
The unique place given to women (as proclaimers) in the Fourth Gospel reflects the history, the theology, and the values of the Johannine community.
The Fourth Gospel contains many accurate references to Holy Land places and customs suggesting eyewitness authorship.
The competition between Peter and the B.D. in the 4th Gospel mirrors the competition between Peter and Magdalene in Nag Hammadi works.
When the name of Mary Magdalene is inserted into the odd passages, their meaning clears up. The only difficulty is overcoming our conditioning in order to accept a woman in the position of favored leader.

I left out chunks of Jusino’s fine scholarly article, hoping you will read it and overcome patriarchal conditioning to see its soundness.


September 18

In the 6 plus years I have been blogging, no topic has generated as much enthusiastic feedback as Jusino’s thesis about Mary Magdalene. (My concise summary above)
All of the responses endorse his conclusion.
Thanks to John Chuchman of Michigan and Arizona for igniting much of this discussion, which opened new territory. Here are samples.
More than "possible." Indeed quite probable!
Frank

This is Beautiful.   I've heard this before and believe it.  Right now there is an ex-Jesuit (something like 30+ years) who was pushed out for his revolutionary behavior of nonviolently standing for issues.  His name is John Dear.  I've known that he, along with Jesus, is working for the Goddess face of Source.  It is all very inspiring and gives me new hope.
Brenda M. Asterino

So what else is new?  Of course, Mary Magdalene could have written the 4th Gospel. Easy for me to believe.
Marilyn Brinkman
Yes, of course possible but “proving” it was another matter. The perfection of Jusino’s argument excites me. By the end of the article we're convinced that not attributing the Gospel to Mary Magdalene is unreasonable. For people used to church talk and scripture analysis this is a breakthrough, very new.
I read that information a few years ago and found it more believable than much of what I've read about her over the years, including what is in our bible.  You know that she was a most prominent disciple because they named her a prostitute, the worst they could think of.  

In the Old Testament you read that when they came across idols they destroyed them.  However, if they found a figure of a feminine deity they destroyed it, shattered it, crushed it.  They were so threatened!
Maxine Moe Rasmussen


I’ve been familiar with the Jusino paper for a while, and it makes sense to me. I would give it better than 50-50 odds to be essentially correct. The key point is that the BD is the only significant person in the NT who is not named.
Charles J. McMahon, Jr.
Professor emeritus, Science and Engineering, University of Pennsylvania


Interesting and very plausible.  Ray Brown at least gave it some consideration.
Gene Beniek
I believe that Raymond Brown would concur if he would consider Jusino's evidence.
The tide is turning toward crediting the feminine. I admit I had to change my own awareness of feminine power, and scholars of theology have educated me as much as scientists. 

The concept of Mary Magdalene being the Beloved Disciple is not that far of a stretch for me. However, Dan Brown's movie (Da Vinci Code) did not/does not help with pushing serious biblical studies forward.  

The 4th Gospel is so very different in style and in describing the Last Supper that I have no problem in believing that it was written by a woman.  And the Letters of John and the addresses of "my little children" to the people, could also have been written by a woman (Mary Magdalene or even Mary, Jesus' mother).    
Charlene Ozanick
The future of our species may well depend on achieving left/right masculine/feminine balance. . . . Our species has been far too left brain, masculine dominant.
I have long thought She was His wife, lover, confidant.
John Chuchman
I have suspected the same.  Maybe common law wife?  The Nazarene was more counter-cultural than Christianity imagines him.
It has been my idea for quite some time that MM was much more than an apostle. And the one to carry on when Jesus left – in teaching and leading His disciples.
Mary Marrucci
Paul was the one who carried on but he gave us the myth of Jesus on the cross saving the world. This myth took off and consoled many who needed it, but its persistence in the face of science frustrates me.
Have you considered the idea that the "mission" was at the least a joint mission and possibly mainly hers but, due to the times, Jesus had to take it on?
So YES. I do believe that she wrote it.
Carol ORourke
Reflecting further about "mission,” we today also have a mission, which we help to carry out with this exchange on the feminine aspect of the Good News given humanity two thousand years ago.


September 26

At a gathering with college classmates, someone mentioned the unlikelihood that Mary Magdalene could write. She was responding to my title “Mary Magdalene wrote the 4th Gospel.”  Her comment told me that I need to correct the impression I created with my ill-chosen word. I keep forgetting that my readers may not understand my words as I intend them. I should have known that “wrote” would be confusing.

Mary Magdalene was not the scribe who wrote the gospel on papyrus. She was not even one of the people who organized the gospel. This all happened after her death.  As I wrote,
Works of antiquity go through modifications or redactions, but the acknowledged author “is the person whose ideas the book expresses.”

The final version of the gospel was written after the death of the Beloved Disciple.
I should have said Mary Magdalene authored the 4th Gospel because, as leader of the community from which the gospel emerged, she originated its content.
Oct. 10:
I think the form we have of the 4th Gospel, like all the canonical gospels, went through several redactions, not only the one eliminating M. Magdalene. I speculate that some of it may have been written during her lifetime, some written while remembering things she said, and some like half of Pauline literature, written to further the thought of a disciple of Jesus.   
I'd like to think more than the deletions of MM are the work of others, for instance, the hatred toward Jews, for which the 4th is notorious.
The Gospel we know definitely attained form after MM's death.  But she founded and led the community from which it sprang.

One more item regarding the Magdalene. This wise observation from Char:
By making the relationship between Jesus and Mary—sexual and with a child born—Dan Brown's book (and subsequent movie) The Da Vinci Code  have Hollywoodized and trivialized the strong friend-spiritual relationship between Jesus and Mary.  It will take time for Dan Brown's ideas to get out of people's heads (sigh).

The book and movie may have made the general public think, but individuals who REALLY KNOW their historical background found the book and movie to be ridiculous.  The problem wouldn't be there if Dan Brown hadn't told everyone that what he had was ACCURATE and was going to turn everything upside-down.  MOST of what he cited as evidence was not accurate.

But in the aftermath—when serious historical scholars from excellent universities make a statement, they are treated just like people who claim that they entertained the Lock Ness monster for tea and crumpets. It makes it all the harder to present serious evidence to support the role that women really did have in the church.
Charlene Ozanick
I apply this to the global warming “debate,” which leaves scientists shaking their heads in frustration because ignorant comments are given the same weight as scientific evidence.

Two books to which I contributed are coming out this September:
The editor, Karen Tate of CA, conducts Internet radio interviews illuminating the ascension of the Divine Feminine, which becomes more apparent on the global scene every day. You can learn how to harness the Sacred Feminine to participate in the evolution of human consciousness.

In this book you can learn about organizations and women who help humanity to move out of patriarchy.  The editor, Jann Aldredge-Clanton of TX, writes inclusive lyrics for familiar hymns.

2 comments:

Karen Tate said...

We are the verge of a revolution of thought. We are living the revolution everyday - just look at how the NFL is crumbling in the wake of brutality toward women. A decade or two from now we will look back at this time and say, "Yes, of course - how could we not see the Great She was making her comeback!" And those of us brave enough to have perpetuated this enlightenment while certainly the cognitive minority now - will be vindicated as wayshowers later.

Lena said...

There's no way a woman of that time could have penned a gospel. Besides it is explicit the author is male. Magdalene is important enough in Scripture and church,there's no need to perpetuate the nonsense of her being the authoress.