Were Jesus & Mary Magdalene really married? (III of VII)
or “Is the premise of The DaVinci Code really true?”
Gospel of Thomas
This book purports to give the “secret teachings” of Jesus, rather than the story of his life and death. Admittedly, many of the sayings are as confusingly strange as Zen koans, but I still find them fascinating.
Like the other two books, this gospel refers to Simon Peter being a little brat to Mary. I’ll discuss Peter’s issues in just a bit, though — for now, here’s the relevant verse:
Simon Peter said to them [Jesus and the disciples], ‘Make Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of life.’ Jesus said, ‘I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the kingdom of heaven.’
No one knows what precisely that’s supposed to mean, although I’ve heard several likely theories.
One states the verse represents Jesus using “enlightened sarcasm” on Simon Peter, to try to get him to think past earthly sensory input, and into intellectual enlightenment.
Another theory postulates Jesus is speaking metaphorically of how he will make Mary Magdalene of one divine spirit with him, a true “Bride of Christ,” as she’s referred to in some of the Apocryphal books. This is because according to some versions of early christianity, male and female must spiritually become one to enter the kingdom of heaven.
The theory I consider most likely, however, takes the culture of the time into account, as well as comments such as were mentioned above, regarding the disciples all being “made into Men” and the individual references to “my man of light.”
According to this theory the compiler of the sayings uses ‘female’ and ‘male’ metaphorically to refer to the ‘higher’ and ‘lower’ aspects of human nature. Thus Jesus will personally guide Mary in undergoing a spiritual transformation from her earthly, material, passionate nature (which the compiler here equates with the ‘lower’ female) to a heavenly, spiritual, intellectual nature (which here equates with the ‘higher’ male).
Symbolic transformations like this usually denoted spiritual illumination through rituals or ascetic practices, and signified liberation from death and other “base” earthly matters.
While we may find the gender categorizations shocking today, it is still worth noting there are no examples of Jesus offering to do this for his male apostles.
So the answer to our second question, “Is there anything to support this theory?” is an unqualified yes. From this data, it’s entirely reasonable to assume Jesus was indeed married to Mary Magdalene.
3) Could this information have been lost?
Without a doubt, especially since we know other less contentious information within the bible has also been lost, mistranslated, censored, or re-written.
Why do I consider biblical rewriting of Jesus’ life to be such a certain thing? Story modification in the bible has occurred so repeatedly that bible scholars have descriptive nicknames for the various author-groups in the Old Testament. They can do this because the writing of the various books alters consistently in grammar, vocabulary, and style, depending on who the current author-group is.
If this interests you, you should really read a more thorough review of the subject — it’s quite fascinating. Check out the books they refer to also; they’re excellent.
Also, stories get re-written when people have problems they’re trying to cope with. It’s obvious Simon Peter has some serious emotional issues concerning his insecurity around clever and enlightened women in general, and Mary Magdalene in particular. Unfortunately this means he also has excellent reason to encourage someone literate to just drop a few pesky little details from the bible stories.
Obviously these insecurities (for I doubt Simon Peter was the only one with issues about enlightened women) strongly affected the bible. It is in the Apocrypha we’re more likely to see less edited or censored versions of stories concerning Mary Magdalene. For example, Peter is openly resentful of her in the Gospel of Mary — giving her grief after she acquiesces to his request for more of Jesus’ teachings!