The Gospel of Mary of Magdala

cover picture
Jesus and the First Woman Apostle
By Karen L. King
Winn Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Harvard University
Lost for more than fifteen hundred years, the Gospel of Mary is the only existing early Christian gospel written in the name of a woman.  Karen L. King tells the story of the recovery of this remarkable gospel and offers a new translation.  This brief narrative presents a radical interpretation of Jesus’ teachings as a path to inner spiritual knowledge.  It rejects his suffering and death as a path to eternal life and exposes the view that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute for what it is – a piece of theological fiction.  The Gospel of Mary of Magdala offers a fascinating glimpse into the conflicts and controversies that shaped earliest Christianity.
Elaine Pagles says: “Karen King’s Gospel of Mary of Magdala is a book that many readers are waiting for. – a complete translation of the Gospel of Mary together with a lucidly written, marvelously informative discussion of where it comes from and what it means.”
We will begin this study at 7:00 PM (until 8:30) on October 25, 2015 and finish with the classic potluck on December 13.  Of course there will be cookies.

Comments

Chapter 13
1 - “The modern concept of the person did not exist in antiquity.” Comments?
2 – When you read ancient church literature, what is your primary (most frequent) perspective? What other perspectives do you use?
3 – How do you think Christianity would be different today if women had not been suppressed?
4 – What do you think of comparing Jesus (Christ?) and Mary to Adam and Eve?
5 – Is our author gloating in the last paragraph?
Chapter 14
6 – How do you like to define Gnostic(ism)?
7 – How has your knowledge of the history of early Christianity affected your faith?
8 – What new idea did you discover in the first (History) part of this chapter?
9 – Where would you date the Gospel of Mary? Why?
10 – Which conclusion about the Gospel of Mary do you like best? Why?

Chapter 11
1 – What do you find to be the most interesting element of comparison between Paul and the Gospel of Mary?
2 – How did Peter ever get to be the first pope with such an undeveloped spirituality?
3 – Explain how the Gospel of Mary is more Gnostic than Paul.
4 - “It matters greatly what kind of stories we live with.” Comments?
5 – Why are today's martyrs Muslim rather than Christian?
6 – What is the sin of the world?
Chapter 12
7 – How did “prepared” become “unified”?
8 – Why are we locked in a room “for fear of the Jews” when we know it was the Romans who dispatched Jesus?
9 – As you study the Gospel of Mary, do you get a better understanding of why the particular four gospels were canonized?
10 – What modern day figure would correspond to “the apostle to the apostles”?

Chapter 9
1 – Speculate on Mary's relationship with Jesus.
2 – So many question marks in the text... Pick one to elaborate.
3 – How do you judge spiritual maturity? Who has it (or NOT)?
4 – Are people without spiritual maturity adversaries?
Chapter 10
5 – For what reasons would you open a letter with “Peace.....”?
6 – How would you reconcile GThom 3 with GThom 113b?
7 – Are we moderns so enculturated that it is (almost) impossible to find “true Humanity within.”?
8 – Which of the comparisons between the Gospel of Mary and other (possibly canonical) writing did you find most interesting? Why?
9 – Who do yo think should preach the gospel?
10 – What new understanding of biblical study did you see here?
11 – Does our author convince you on the issue of literary dependence?

Chapter 7
1 – How do you understand the mind existing between the soul and the spirit?
2 – What is the “spiritual comprehension of the soul”?
3 – Do you like the Gospel of Mary model or the Tertullian model of the human better? Why?
4 – What do you think causes visionary experiences?
Chapter 8
5 – What type of modern writing corresponds to what we see in the soul ascending?
6 – How much are you looking forward to “rest in silence”, or are you concerned about boredom?
7 – Why is ther so much speculation about what happens after death?
8 – Why do you think Paul made it to the tenth heaven?
9 – Is the soul's journey pas the guardians simply a life metaphor?
10 – How much is modern law “set up to work on the side of those who wish to enslave”?
11 – Is our author revealing herself wit the phrase “fantastic terms of religious imagination”?
12 – To what extent do you think the Gospel of Mary is a political tract?
13 – What would a plan to save the soul while the body is still alive look like?

Chapter 5
1 – Where/How did the heavy Greek philosophy enter the Gospel of Mary, since we started with a Jewish carpenter's son?
2 – Do you agree with the definition of sin as estrangement from God (the good)?
3 – If sin is caused by mixing spiritual and material natures, what do you get if you don't mix them?
4 – What do you have left to think about if your thought “is free of all physical contact and associations.”?
5 – I have a hard time with pronouns. To what does each “it” refer in: “It will set it within its root.”?
6 – If passion “has no image”, does that mean emotions are not real or are bad?
7 – Does spiritual advancement come only by transformation within a person, and not by external regulation?
8 – What's wrong with the legal system in this country?
9 – Should leadership be based on spiritual achievement?
10 – Do you think the Gospel of Mary was written to counteract pseudonymous Pauline letters?
Chapter 6
11 – This is the first place that the idea of a model is introduce directly. How does your (modern) model of humanity differ from that discussed here?
12 – How do you like to use “Son of Man”?
13 – What were you before you became Human?
14 – Sex is good! Why did early Christians work so hard to suppress it?

Chapter 3
Rather than ask specific questions this week, I'll just list main ideas that
I think are worth some discussion (until the last question).
Post resurrection appearances
Dialogue and departure
Dialogical teaching
Layers
Independence
Commissioning
Comprehension and imitation
Translation
Chapter 4
Three Bears story of Christian origins
GMary as gnostic heresy
Early history reflecting on modern Christianity
Plato's ideas
Stoic ideas
Body and world (material) have no spiritual value
10 – What do you think of the image(s) of reality portrayed in Gmary?

Preface
1 – What is the number of names that you recognize in the preface? How many of them have you read?
Chapter 1
2 – What do you find most unusual about the short synopsis of the gospel? Any other unusual ideas?
3 – Will you embrace the Gospel of Mary?
4 – Describe any other discoveries of old documents you have read about.
Chapter 2
5 – Explain the nature of matter in a way that actually means something.
6 – How do you understand the difference(s) between soul, spirit and mind?
7 – After looking at the pictures of the early codex, how do you imagine the reading to have proceeded at an early meeting of followers?
8 – Do you see any differences between the synopsis of chapter 1 and how you understand your first reading of the text?