What is the gospel of Mary (Magdalene)?Question: "What is the gospel of Mary (Magdalene)?"
Answer: The gospel of Mary was discovered in the Akhmim Codex in Cairo, Egypt, in 1896. It was not made public until 1955, when it was published due to the popularity of the Nag Hammadi library. Written in Greek and Coptic, the gospel of Mary codex is dated to the 3rd (Greek) and 5th (Coptic) centuries A.D. The gospel of Mary is mentioned in the writings of some of the early church fathers as early as the 3rd century A.D. In the only known copy of the text, ten entire pages are missing, including the first six pages. As a result, it is difficult to arrive at a coherent and consistent overall message.
The gospel of Mary Magdalene would better be titled “the gospel of Mary,” due to the fact that the Mary the gospel mentions is nowhere specified as Mary Magdalene. In the New Testament, there are six women named Mary, with three of them being prominent in the life of Jesus: Mary, Jesus’ mother; Mary Magdalene; and Mary of Bethany. It is only tradition that the Mary the gospel of Mary refers to is Mary Magdalene. For the sake of clarity, we will assume that Mary Magdalene is the Mary of the gospel of Mary.
Conspiracy theorists have contrived a conflict between patriarchal Christianity (exemplified by Peter) and “true” Christianity (exemplified by Mary). The Da Vinci Code takes this conspiracy theory to new heights by portraying the Christian church as covering up Jesus’ relationship with Mary Magdalene and denying His appointment of Mary as the leader of the church. The problem with this conspiracy theory is that there is absolutely no evidence for it, not even in the gospel of Mary. The gospel of Mary nowhere states that Jesus appointed Mary as the leader of the Christian church. The gospel of Mary nowhere states that Jesus and Mary were romantically involved.
The gospel of Mary was not written by Mary Magdalene or any other Mary of the Bible. The Gnostic teachings found in the gospel of Mary date it to the late 2nd century A.D. at the earliest. As a result, there is no validity to its teachings. Similar to the gospel of Thomas, the gospel of Philip, and the gospel of Judas, the gospel of Mary is a Gnostic forgery, using the name of a biblical character in an attempt to give validity to heretical teachings. The only value in studying the gospel of Mary is in learning what heresies existed in the early centuries of the Christian church.
Recommended Resource: Recovering the Real Lost Gospel: Reclaiming the Gospel as Good News by Darrell Bock
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Questions about the Bible
What is the gospel of Mary (Magdalene)?