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For a Lady Pope

The Mary Magdalene affair

Jesus was surrounded by disciples, some of whom were women, which was unique in Jewish circles. The Evangelists (Luke 8, 2-3; Luke 23,49; Luke 24,10; Matthew 15, 10-41; Mark 15, 40-41; John 19,25) regularly talk about them.

We also learn, despite there being some differences in the Evangelists recordings, that women were present at the foot of the cross, that they anointed and buried Jesus, that they were the first to notice that Jesus’ body had disappeared and it was to them that Jesus first appeared. Mary Magdalene is the woman quoted the most during these crucial moments.

We knew for a fact that Mary Magdalene had a privileged relationship with Jesus, but that is all.

Then, in 1945, in a cave at Nag Hammadi near Luxor, in Egypt, various Gospels were discovered, notably those of Thomas, Philip and Maria, dating from the middle of the 2nd century, and which had been transcribed into the Coptic Sahidic script. Just as with the canonical Gospels, these Gospels were themselves based on more ancient sources.

The three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) would have been written between 65 and 70 CE. John’s was later. There existed gospels previous to these, which would have been the source of the Synoptic Gospels, but these manuscripts have yet to be found.

Nonetheless, in the Gospels of Nag Hammadi, certain verses are surprising. According to these documents, Mary Magdalene was very close to Jesus. She was the initiated one who passed on the most subtle of Jesus’ teachings to the other apostles. She was his companion. According to the Gospel of Mary (not Mary, mother of Jesus, but Mary Magdalene), the apostle Peter did not appreciate Mary Magdalene’s behaviour and mistreated her because of it.

The Gospel of Thomas also shows Peter’s vehement attitude.

In the Gospel of Philip, it is written: “And the companion of the saviour was Mary Magdalene. Christ loved Mary more than all the disciples, and used to kiss her on her [mouth]. The rest of the disciples were offended by it and expressed disapproval. They said to him "Why do you love her more than all of us?" The Saviour answered and said to them, "Why do I not love you like her?”

It is also written: “There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary, his mother, and her sister, and Magdalene, the one who was called his companion. His sister and his mother and his companion were each a Mary.”

These gospels have led to some people declaring that Mary Magdalene wasn’t just a companion to Jesus, but that she was also his sexual partner, others have admitted that Mary Magdalene was certainly close to Jesus, but that their relationship was spiritual, that the exchange of kisses was merely the exchange of their spiritual breath

However, considering that we were in a Jewish environment, Jesus’ attitude would have been shocking, if not provocative. The Torah explicitly forbids a man to touch a woman (and vice versa) who isn’t his (with the exception of his mother and daughter).

Added to this is the fact that the Gnostic Gospels were only made public to the general public in 1982 when “The Secret Gospels” by Elaine Pagels were published by Gaillmard.

The first novel to widely address this subject was the “Tempête au Vatican,” by R. Jacquerye, published in 2000 by Racine (Brussels) and Desclée de Brouwer (Paris). Then, in 2003, “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown was published and translated into many languages, notably into French in 2004 by J.C.Lattes.

As how far the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene went, it is up to each of us to draw our own conclusions.

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