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What can this gospel really tell us?,
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This review is from: The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle (Paperback)
Karen L. King's "The Gospel of Mary of Magdala" provides her own translation of the Coptic text, plus following on from this an extended commentary.
The third section, "The Gospel of Mary in Early Christianity" attempts to consider the history and influence of the work, and find its place in early Christian thought. King appears to feels that it is not an early document in itself though incorporates earlier traditions; it is not however derivative from canonical works but represents a separate strand.
King does not call the work Gnostic - she only briefly mentions the word later on to sniffily remark: "I never call the Gospel of Mary a Gnostic text because there was no such thing as Gnosticism". All the themes in the work are however Gnostic, whether you wish to use that word or not, or even create some other phrase such as Williams' "biblical demiurgical traditions" in his Rethinking "Gnosticism": An Argument for Dismantling a Dubious Category.
Though she acknowledges that many such apocryphal gospels pick a different apostle as having been given individual special personal revelation by Jesus, I don't feel that she highlights the importance of this fact in the context of this particular gospel. In that sense for me it's a bit like any other apocryphal gospel, and perhaps not quite so important or special as some have made it out to be.
A good read indeed, but retain some scepticism about King's conclusions.
Update: I have subsequently read The Gospel of Mary: Listening to the Beloved Disciple: Beyond a Gnostic and a Biblical Mary Magdalene by Esther de Boer, which I think is a superior analysis to this book by Karen L. King.
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Initial post: 16 May 2012 16:21:05 BDT
H. A. Weedon says:
'All the themes in the work are, however, gnostic...' What a sweeping statement to make, and what rubbish. The Gospel of Mary of Magdala is no more and no less gnostic than any of the four canonical gospels. 'Gnostic' has become a term that's bandied about in an effort to denigrate viewpoints that do not agree with traditionally embedded views. The Gospels of Mary of Magdala and Thomas are likely to be just the tip of the iceberg and we shall never know the full truth because the faction that favoured the teaching as set out in the four canonical gospels became all powerful and suppressed other viewpoints. The plain truth is that modern Christianity in all its forms, with the possible exception of the Quakers, owes more to Constantine than it does to Christ.
In reply to an earlier post on 16 May 2012 18:03:06 BDT
E. L. Wisty says:
"What a sweeping statement to make, and what rubbish. The Gospel of Mary of Magdala is no more and no less gnostic than any of the four canonical gospels."
Try reading 'Chapter 8' of the fragments, discussing the ascent of the soul past various powers. Classic Gnosticism.
"The plain truth is that modern Christianity in all its forms ... owes more to Constantine than it does to Christ."
You've been reading too much Dan Brown mate.
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