Core Texts: A New New Testament, edited by Hal Taussig Listening for the Heartbeat of God, John Philip Newell The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, edited with commentary by Jean Yves Leloup The Gnostic Gospels, Elaine Pagels
February Required Reading: A New New Testament, edited by Hal Taussig The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke
Recommended Additional Readings: Jesus Found in Translation, Lizzie Berne DeGear Revelations of the Aramaic Jesus, Neil Douglas Klotz Women Remembered, Joan Taylor and Helen Bond
Recommended Listening: Original Prayer by Neil Douglas Klotz. This audible recording will introduce you to the Aramaic Prayer in both spoken and sung forms.
As we begin to explore the wide variety of texts that were used by diverse Christian communities in the early centuries, I invite us to read in layers as the School of Alexandria advised under Origen.
Layers 1) Literal/historical Notice how differently each author begins and ends their story of Jesus, and notice especially the differences in the tellings of the crucifixion and resurrection. The discrepancies between the Gospels have been a conundrum for readers for centuries who sought for uniform agreement and historical scholarship has presented many obstacles for modern minds. In the earliest centuries, many Christians believed that some aspects of the stories were historically factual or literally true, while others were "true" in an allegorical or spiritual sense. If what you read is difficult to accept at the literal level, I encourage you to plumb the possible psycbological or spiritual meanings, as if you were interpreting a dream.
2) Allegorical or Typological This is similar to the Archetypal/Mytho-Poetic approach of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell that seeks to find relatedness between passages, searching for echoes of earlier (or later) stories. In this way, we search for the connections between Jesus and figures in the Hebrew Bible. How is Jesus a "new Moses" or similar to Jonah? What are parallels between Miryam/Mother Mary/Mary Magdalene?
3) Pneumatic/ spiritual What is the message for you in your life right now with what you are experiencing? How is the text a mirror for your own life?
In addition, I encourage you to directed your inquiry to the women in the Bible. Who are they? How does Jesus interact with them? Think of this as an Easter egg hunt. Pay particular attention to the things that don't make sense and note them.
Read creatively. What images arise in you in response to the text? Can you imagine yourself in the scene? What do you see/hear/ sense/ feel? Is there a way for you to draw, dance or sing the stories you encounter? To adopt the voice of one of the characters and write a letter or poem?
Other Recommended BOoks on Mary Magdalene
Mary Magdalen: Myth and Metaphor by Susan Haskins -- A thoroughly well researched historical survey that forms the foundation for much of the past decade's scholarship.
The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostleby Karen L. King--Postmodern analysis by eminent Harvard professor that focuses on the socio-political and gender clashes of the first few centuries
The Meaning of Mary Magdalene, Cynthia Bourgeault. Written by an Episcopalian priest and teacher of the contemplative tradition, this book reviews the Canonical and Gnostic scriptures as well as the legends in France with the perspective that Mary Magdalene was a spiritual teacher and intimate companion of Jesus.
The Gospel of the Beloved Companion, translated with commentary by Jehanne de Quillan. Reputed to be the document brought by Mary Magdalene from Egypt to France in the first century and used by the Cathars, this controversial text parallels much of the Gospel of John but claims to also include the "missing pages" of the Gospel of Mary in a profound visionary teaching. Though it cannot be authenticated in any academic way, it is thought-provoking and filled with great wisdom and many people find it profoundly moving. We will be reading from this text for the Mary Magdalene chapel memorial on Montsegur Day in March.
Mary Magdalene, The First Apostle:Struggle for Authority by Ann Graham Brock- a look at the political division between competing early churches, how the Gospels were altered over time, how the canon of the Church was shaped and the ultimate effect on women’s place in the church. Thought provoking and disturbing.
Beloved Disciple: The Misunderstood Legacy of Mary Magdaleneby Robin Griffith- Jones—Written by an Anglican priest who offers a comprehensive treatment of the different sources friendly to the reader who is exploring Mary Magdalene for the first time.