Hallo Ihr Lieben,

wer von Euch ist so lieb und übersetzt uns den nachstehenden Text einmal ins deutsche ???????

Ich kanns leider nicht, da ich soviel englisch nicht kann.

This is an interview with a young scholar, concerning the Magdalene.

Christian Doumergue has written a book about Saunière himself, bringing him much closer to the countess of Chambord, as her personal physician was a cousin of the curate of Alet whom Saunière knew. Saunière would've belonged in an underground Church of the Magdalene (i.e. the Cathars); in the 1890s, Dr. Fugairon, a member of Doinel's neo-Gnostic organization already asserted that MM brought the body of Jesus to Southern France.

There are points made, about the rising prominence of the Magdalene in Europe since 8th century and especially from the age of St. Bernard de Clairvaux, which I appreciate, as well as her iconography during the Baroque epoch, and others which disconcert me, mostly the author's insistence of Jesus having been a Gnostic. To arrive at such a view, Gnosticism should be defined in a manner loose enough as to lose any meaning. It would not be helpful at all.

Christian doesn't like the hypothesis of the Sacred Enigma well, yet he takes it for the departure-point of his presentation. Mary the Magdalene, just as any figure from history, Jesus included, comes in two shapes: a historic and a legendary character.

For comparison, he introduces Sappho _ apparently the only Greek poetess known in her own words _ whose figure is so overlain with mythical elements that we know almost nothing of her for sure. The legend has it that the still-sweetly-singing head of Orpheus floating to the isle of Lesbos was buried by Sappho with honours. Sappho lived in the 6th century BCE, obviously was head of a community of girls worshipping Aphrodite at Mytilene on Lesbos; taking personaly lyrics to the highest point with her simple, though tempestuous language, she was a major influence on the Roman poet Catullus who nicknamed his lover after her native island.

In the mid-17th century, poets and painters merged the figures of the Magdalene and Venus: Pierre de Saint-Louis (a Carmelite of whom there is an absolutely fascinating appendix in HBHG; I wish it gets the Professorial treatment here), Antoine Godeau, Jules-Joseph Lefebvre. The other merger has been with figures of Melancholy. Possibly the most famous Melancholy is by Albrecht Dürer which is, of course, above any such suspicion.

You're directed to paintings by Jules-Joseph Lefebvre, including that of the Magdalene, here:
Christian seems willing to identify Mary the sister of Martha and Mary of Magdala with each other, as he trusts Abbé Faillon and Victor Saxer on this matter. The contrary is simply Protestant attacks against Pope Gregory, as there had been no fixed stance among the Church Fathers before. Abbé Faillon (1800-70) also wrote a life of Jean-Jacques Olier, the founder of St.-Sulpice seminary.

The lengthy life of Mary the Magdalene (Vita Beatae Mariae Magdalenae et sororis eius Sanctae Marthae) is tentatively ascribed to Nicolas de Clairvaux, the author of a poem on her, by Victor Saxer. The attribution to Hrabanus is only present in one late Oxford manuscript from the year 1408. The Church Fathers deliberately had been downplaying the importance of Mary the Magdalene and attributing her roles to Virgin Mary instead. Saint Ephrem Syrus who edited one of these texts, was born ca. 305 and died on the 9th June 373. He wrote hymns, is often cited for his positions on Melchizedek and the Anti-Christ and fought against the heresies: such as the Bardesanites, the Manichaeans and the Marcionites. He believed in the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady.

Ephrem stayed, for most of his life, to his native town of Nisibis (or Nusaybin, currently). He was educated in Christianity by the local bishop Jacob _ a participant in the Council of Nicaea in 325. For his intelligence, the bishop made him the "lector" of the Church who had to comment on the Scriptures, to make them understood by the community. We have from him collections of madrasse, or rhymed catecheses, even though his authorship is not established clearly always. In Aramaean or Armenian translation, we have from Ephrem a comment of the Genesis and above all a comment of Tatian's Diatessaron. The Catholic Church only is about to rediscover his immense Oriental traditions; now Ephrem appears in the Roman Catholic tradition as a Doctor of the Church for all Churches of this Syriac tradition. The last ten years of his life, Ephrem spent at Edessa as the Sassanid Persians had seized Nisibis.

While it may be too sweeping a generalization in this case _ of the Magdalene being suppressed _ to speak of misogyny, the Church Fathers were definitely mistrustful of a woman who had been the equal of apostles, or an apostle of apostles, the legitimate heir of Jesus, as compared to Peter, a mere pretender.

There are doubts whether a "Life of Mary the Magdalene" was written by Magnentius Hrabanus Maurus (780-856) or by the monks of Clairvaux instead (C12). A pupil of Alcuin and a Benedictine, Hrabanus was the abbot of Fulda and the archbishop of Mainz. He was regarded as the teacher of Germania. The scholarly world, since the suggestion of the Gallican cleric and doctor of the Sorbonne, Jean de Launoy (1603-78), has wanted the Provençal legend to be much more recent than it probably is. (Launoy also denied the existence of Sainte Catherine.) There are no firm criteria here for deciding authorship, furthermore an even bigger overlap exists between the works of Hrabanus and the Bernardine corpus. The alleged work of Hrabanus has been the source of many hagiographies, including the Golden Legend (1261-66) by Jacopo da Voragine alias Jacopo da Varazze (1228-98), an Italian Dominican. This book contained heretical apocrypha (the Gospel of Nicodemus; Bogomilo-Cathar material) which had received a pro-Catholic wording. The author could speak no Greek or Hebrew. He ended up as the archbishop of Genoa. The book was written originally as Legenda sanctorum alias Lombardica hystoria; the later title was given on account of its extraordinary popularity: it was translated in French already in the first third of the 14th century by Jean de Vignay.

The author asserted twice that he was following ancient writings, a fact made easier to believe by the outcropping of features of ancient heretics such as the Magdalene teaching on her own that would've been inconceivable for a good Catholic to suggest. Indeed, Catholic authors were shocked and felt the need to complicate the issue. Saint Vincent Ferrier was a Dominican missionary in the early 15th century. Giovanni Bellini painted his miracles.

Christian goes on to say that Jesus belonged to a Gnostic sect distinct already from Judaism and not heeding Jewish customs at all: a statement which can and must be challenged. He does not choose to speak of the Essenes and the Pharisees and where exactly it would be best to view Jesus in this spectrum. At any rate, an excessive emphasis on asceticism, in any sect, is a very good means to achieve the rapid extinction of that sect. The one surviving Gnostic sect, the Mandaeans, are somehow less averse to marriage, if I'm not mistaken. The things Christian says about Bethany are quite controversial, and it is even more eloquent which he omits to say.

I haven't given enough thought yet to Logion 114 of the Gospel of Thomas; however, a collection of articles by the Egyptologist Siegfried Morenz relates a tradition after which the goddess Isis would've made herself male on one occasion.

In his explanation, Christian hints at the Buddhists _ whose religion to some extent was represented in Near East (shipping lanes had been maintained between Egypt and India since 300 B.C.E.).

Kurt Rudolph about the position of women in Gnostic communities: "The percentage of women was evidently very high and reveals that Gnosis held out prospects otherwise barred to them, especially in the official church. They frequently occupied leading positions either as teachers, prophetesses, missionaries or played a leading role in cultic ceremonies (baptism, eucharist) and magical practices (exorcisms)."

The Catholic authors strongly disapproved, even though an apocryphal text in circulation _ "Acts of Thecla" _ featured Saint Paul himself authorizing an Iconian woman to teach, exorcise and baptize. The pilgrim Egeria visited Thecla's teaching center and hospital at Seleucia in 399. Tertullian, Jerome and Cyprian asserted the truth of these Acts. Paul is described in the following manner there: "little in stature, bald-headed, bow- legged, well-built, with knitted eye-brows, rather long-nosed, full of grace, appearing now as a man, and now having the face of an angel."

Marcellina, a disciple of Carpocrates, was active at Rome ca. 160, arriving under Anicetus, according to Irenaeus. Prisca and Maximilla had been founders of the Montanists. Ptolemy, a disciple of Valentinus, wrote a detailed letter to Sister Flora, regarding the Gnostic interpretation of the Mosaic Code.

In Christian's opinion, the Magdalene could only have been a spiritual companion to Jesus, and definitely she stayed a virgin. He was no Rabbi and for the Magdalene to behave so freely with Jesus, she must have come from a Hellenized ambience.

That Jesus parted ways with the Jewish tradition as exemplified by John the Baptist, we are explicitly shown by a Mandaean text. John the Baptist referred to himself as Enosh, the reborn grandson of Adam, and so did the Mandaeans after him. Enosh also means `man' in Hebrew, and Jesus was the Son of Man. The Mandaeans were in 1652 discovered by a Carmelite missionary, in the marshy areas of South Irak. They're said to have invented handshake as the mode of greeting.

Carpocrates _ who derived his teachings from Mary, Martha and Salome, after Celsus _ and his son Epiphanes were active in Egypt, the former 117-138. His son died at the age of 17. The Carpocratians worshipped the images of Christ, together with pictures of Pythagoras, Plato and Aristotle. I agree with the author's view that evidence doesn't suffice for maintaining the existence of libertine Gnostic sects. We do not have such admissions from the Gnostics themselves, only from their critics within the ranks of mainstream Christians _ while the same in turn were accused of promiscuity by the pagans.

A. http://www.marie-madeleine.com/interviewdoumergue01.html

Mary the Magdalene, the Forgotten Queen

Victor Mortis:- Introduce yourself, Christian Doumergue… (age, studies, profession)

Christian Doumergue: I am 27. First I completed a university course in History of Art and Archaeology: DEUG, Licence and Master's. My subject of the Master's was the following: "The depiction of the eye in Palaeolithic Art." After that, I restarted studies in Modern Letters: a DEUG, a Licence, a Master's dealing with: "The myth of solitude in Emily Brontë and Emily Dickinson" and finally a DEA obtained the last year: "Melancholy and Mysticism, in the works of Juan de la Cruz, Emily Brontë, Emily Dickinson and Mylène Farmer"… I just obtained the CAPES of Documentation. Hence I shall be Professor-Documentalist when the next academic year begins.

VM:- How did this fondness of Mary the Magdalene come?

Ch. D.: The departure point of my passion for Mary the Magdalene is the Affair of Rennes-le-Château. Let us recall it quickly in an outline. In the late 19th century, Bérenger Saunière, arrived as modest countryside priest in this small village of the Aude, abruptly benefits of very large sums of money, permitting him not only to restore on his expense the small church of the village that is since years in a mediocre state, but also to build a luxurious domain (villa in Renaissance style, gazebo dominating the valley, neo-Gothic tower and parks), domain where he receives high society at high cost… Accused of traffic of masses by his superiors because of his lifestyle, the abbé caused, mostly after his death, a certain number of rumours. The origin of his fortune has been explained overall by the discovery of a treasure. About this treasure the few archives of the abbé left us by the time (a very small part unfortunately of the original funds…) say us nothing. This silence has left the field free to hypotheses of all kinds: one passes from the idea of a material treasure (what was sought by all first researchers interested in Saunière's Mystery) to the secret of Church (hypothesis dominant today, above all in the Anglo-Saxon World). And yet in this reading, popularized by "The Sacred Enigma", Mary the Magdalene plays a fundamental role. After the authors of this last work, abbé Saunière would have discovered no more or less than the marriage of Jesus and Mary the Magdalene, and above all the existence of their offspring…

VM:- Mary the Magdalene, mythical character? Or historic?

Ch. D.: In a certain manner, both. Mythical character, as there's certainly an imaginary reconstruction of Mary the Magdalene. But historic character, as at the heart there is, before this reconstruction, a real woman. That there is an imaginary reconstruction of this original person, is undeniable, but it does in nothing forbid her historic existence. The process is customary enough by the way. All great characters of History have a double figure. A "real" figure and a mythical figure, formed by them in their lifetime for political reasons, or by others after their death. This second figure is better known in general. From this viewpoint, History is a fable. For Mary the Magdalene the phenomenon is doubtless more pronounced still. What's true in political history is indeed as one is able to observe, more sensitive still concerning the religious domain.

Edith Mora analyzes this phenomenon very well in her biography of the poetess Sappho. Even though there was, in a questionless manner, a historic Sappho, as perceived on thinking on the poetess of Lesbos, before all there is the mythical character elaborated on this historic substratum. To the extent, says Edith Mora, it would be almost tempting to place Sappho to the rank of purely mythical poets such as Orpheus. The reasons of this phenomenon are well known. Sappho's leap from the rock of Leucade is, under the reign of Claudius, chosen by the Pythagoreans of Rome to be the apotheosis in the esoteric decoration of their secret chapel. At this time, in the "Love Letters" of Ovidius, Sappho is the only person with a real existence, in the midst of other persons purely legendary… As noted by Edith Mora, since then, Sappho acquires a status similar to imaginary figures surrounding her, whether Helen or Ariadne. By effect of contamination, she becomes a myth too. The same phenomenon has engendered the appearance of a mythical Mary the Magdalene next to the historic Mary the Magdalene.

This mythical reconstruction of Mary the Magdalene is flagrant in many authors. Mary the Magdalene is an aggregation of myths. I take two examples only here.

The first concerns the Magdalene's legendary beauty. This idea that Mary the Magdalene was a woman of matchless beauty has made her figure little by little merge that of Venus… That is more or less explicit. Explicit, for example, in 1668, in Pierre de Saint Louis who, when he describes Mary the Magdalene crossing the Mediterranean, stages fish looking at the young woman in her ship and concluding: "Et son port gracieux la leur fait estimer / Cette Divinité qui nâquit de la Mer." The comparison is frequent. It's already found in 1663 in la "Sainte Magdeleine" by Antoine Godeau. When the poet evokes the arrival of Mary the Magdalene to Marseille, he points out the townspeople, dazzled by her beauty, took her for the antique goddess: "Lors que l'on vid marcher l'illustre Magdelaine, / On crut voir des Amours la fabuleuse reine." This comparison is more particularly interesting. It is seen here on what system of analogy the Magdalenian myth is construed.

Mary the Magdalene arriving to Marseille, reports the figure of Venus arriving from waters… This identification tends by an effect of contamination comparable to that noted for Sappho, to make of the Magdalene a mythical person as much as Venus. Namely while it is often as explicit, the likening of the Magdalene to the goddess of love is often there. In the Fine Arts, the nude Magdalenes recall those of Venus. The magnificent "Marie-Madeleine dans la grotte" by Jules Joseph Lefebvre, is more an invitation to pleasure than to penitence…

Other example: the Magdalene and Melancholy. Under the pen of many authors, Mary the Magdalene withdraws to la Sainte-Baume as struck down by the death of Jesus. The logic of her retreat is a logic of mourning, despair hence. Many painters, wishing to represent her penitence, are inspired by the model of the Melancholies. The Magdalene takes the looks of an allegorical figure hence. For this well-known reason, more than one picture showing Sainte Mary the Magdalene as hermitess has been mistaken, when the title of the picture is lost, for figures of Melancholy. Anne Larue tackles these cases of confusion…

To conclude, let's say concerning the relation between myth and reality the case of Mary the Magdalene compares to that of Jesus. From the viewpoint of History, today there's no more doubt that Jesus did exist. All the question is to know who he truly was. It is about discerning historic truth through the myth reconstructed for centuries… In a certain manner, that was the aim of my work: trying to discern the true aspect of the Magdalene, i.e. the historic aspect, through the mythological aspect composed in the course of centuries…

VM:- Whether the canonical gospels, or the apocryphal, nothing permits in their reading to assert that Mary, sister of Martha and of Lazarus, also is Mary of Magdala. The unity of both women comes more under a tradition than a historic reality. Do you not find it curious, the Church Fathers themselves do not know who's truly this woman named Mary the Magdalene?

Ch. D.: Before answering this question, on the ignorance of the Church Fathers on the issue of the identity of Mary the Magdalene, allow me some words on the identification of Mary of Magdala and Mary the sister of Martha, a hypothetic identification indeed. The current position of the university world is overall to assert the assimilation of Mary of Magdala and of Mary the sister of Martha is a ploy and this ploy brought about the creation of a purely fictitious person composed of many distinct women: Mary the Magdalene. This position is much too simplistic. It fails to take in account the discoveries made by Faillon in this domain… Abbé Faillon indeed has shown that, unlike what the historic criticism of his time, inherited from Protestant criticism, asserted, Gregory the Great did not sin by ignorance when merging the two women in a sole, but plumped for the hypothesis seeming the most credible. Closer in time to us, the works of Victor Saxer have shown the Church Fathers being on the subject of the unity or non-unity of the Magdalene plunged in total ignorance. His conclusion is hence there has, on this subject, never been, in Ancient Church, a well-fixed tradition. Both points matter. Indeed the big argument of the partisans of the distinction is to assert Gregory the Great merged the two women by ignorance; formerly, the West following the example of the Orient today distinguished them; that hence the Western tradition of identification is due to the popes' ignorance only… This reading whose ideological orientation is outstanding (let us not forget it arose among Protestant authors…) is not acceptable, when conclusions are considered both of Faillon and Saxer. Since that, no serious argument forbids the likening of Mary of Magdala and Mary the sister of Martha. And yet, all data brought by the "New Testament" gospels on this issue, go in the sense of their identification…

But let us go to the ignorance of the Fathers. Your question touches on a very interesting problem. It seems indeed inconceivable, the Church Fathers would have been in such an ignorance concerning a person, who had however been brought to play a fundamental role in the creation of the Christian Church. First witness of Resurrection, Mary the Magdalene is charged by Jesus with going to announce the news of his return from the dead to his disciples, making of her "the Apostle of the Apostles", to repeat the title given to her later by the mediaeval theologians… As inconceivable as it is, this central character of the creation of Christianity has long been forgotten by the Church of Rome. Her cult, notes Victor Saxer, appears in the West in the 8th century only. Distancing from her is visible in the "Acts of Apostles". This writing succeeding the gospels and reporting the birth of the Church, only once mentions the name Mary the Magdalene…

Nothing, in the writings of the New Testament, permits to understand the reasons of this pushing aside. Since then, an explanation often suggested, is the misogyny of Church Fathers. Mary the Magdalene would have been pushed aside as a woman. The explanation, although attractive, does not withstand an analysis… Indeed, while a woman, playing a determining role in the Gospels, is pushed aside (Mary the Magdalene), another, whose role in the gospels is very limited, is taken to the pedestal (Mary, mother of Jesus). While Mary the Magdalene is consigned in oblivion, one absolutely creates another feminine character, and she is created of texts dedicated originally to Mary the Magdalene. Some Syriac authors, like Ephrem, are systematically replacing, in the transcriptions they make of prior texts, the name Mary the Magdalene with Mary, mother of Jesus. Some texts bear repercussions of this genesis of the figure of Mary. In the "Homily in honour of the Virgin" by pseudo-Cyril of Jerusalem, the author places indeed in the mouth of the mother of Christ: "I'm Mary the Magdaline as the name of my village was Magdali…". There must be seen no attestation of a tradition, making of Mary the Magdalene the mother of Christ, but a trace of the fact the character of Mary, mother of Jesus, is elaborated from the person of Mary of Magdala. Hence the Fathers don't dislike the sex only of Mary the Magdalene, but before all her person.

The question what, in Mary the Magdalene, upset the Fathers, is brought absolutely interesting clarification by the apocryphal gospels, and more particularly those coming from the Gnostic sects. The "Gospel of Mary", for example, stages the dogmatic quarrel opposing Mary the Magdalene to Peter, once Jesus is withdrawn, and reports the birth of two distinct groups of disciples, one assembled around Mary the Magdalene, the other around Peter. This quarrel between Christian communities is in accordance with what is known of the birth of Christianity since the works published by Bauer in 1934. And yet, this quarrel opposing Peter to Mary the Magdalene is not peculiar to the "Gospel of Mary". It is recognized in nearly all of the Gnostic writings featuring Mary the Magdalene, writings defining her as the favourite disciple of Jesus and his legitimate heir, while Peter is an impostor… Everything suggests there, in this dogmatic strife, are found the reasons of the eviction of Mary the Magdalene from the first orthodoxy.

And in this eviction, this pushing aside, originates the ignorance of the Fathers concerning Mary the Magdalene. Most texts concerning her have been condemned by the first Church. It has been the case of the "Gospel of Mary"… Other texts, as I have pointed out, have been rewritten, and the Magdalene's figure has disappeared, replaced by Mary… As I show in the second volume being printed, of "La Reine Oubliée", this phenomenon of replacement is discernable too in the field of iconography. This work of methodical censorship of the founders of the Church of Rome plunged their immediate successors in a certain ignorance regarding Mary the Magdalene, in any case surrounded her with much confusion…

VM:- You cite Faillon, himself inspired by Rabanus Maurus, who would've had in his hands very ancient texts to write his "Life of Mary the Magdalene". And yet, Saxer (Le culte de Marie-Madeleine en Occident) asserts these "very old texts" never existed and, more seriously still, the "Life of Saint Mary the Magdalene" attributed to Rabanus Maurus is a 12th-century forgery written by the monks of Clairvaux… If you can clarify this subject for us…

Ch. D.: The datings suggested by Faillon are indeed today questioned by nearly the whole scientific community… That it means they are erroneous, I am not certain… There is a certain conservatism in the world of research, and more particularly in France. And yet, the recognition of a possible reality of the Provençal legend runs counter to this conservatism. Any element likely to give credence to the historic foundation of Mary the Magdalene's arrival to Gaul is hence piously pushed aside, rejected, without scientifically valid analysis. Since the questioning of the authenticity of Provençal legends by Launoy in 1641, the approach of the detractors of the legend has hardly changed. As Launoy asserts the Provençal legend appears in the 11th century only, a text of the 9th isn't acceptable…

The big problem concerning the dating of the text attributed to Rabanus Maurus is, one does not possess the original writing but late copies. The most ancient version is preserved in the service of manuscripts of the Faculty of Medicine at Montpellier. It dates to the 12th century. It must be understood thereby the dating of this text rests on no criteria scientifically measurable and hence objective, but on criteria of interpretative kind, subjective hence eventualy. In sum, it is arguments against arguments. Faillon observed, in the text, a certain number of points going in the sense of a composing in the 9th century: what is glimpsed of the Church organization in Gaul; the theological debates appearing within the text; some omissions… Saxer, on his side, asserts the text attributed to Rabanus Maurus presents themes typically Bernardine going in the sense of a composition in the 12th century, forbidding to take back the text in the 9th century. The partisans of the authenticity of the text have hardly had trouble countering this viewpoint. After them, the comparison of the Bernardine texts and of the writings of Rabanus Maurus, brings in evidence a flagrant influence of the latter on the former. Dom Pez, notably, has pointed out the influence of the "Treatise of the Passion of Our Lord" by Rabanus in Saint Bernard. The alleged Saint-Bernardine treatises of the Life of Saint Mary the Magdalene" hence would be by Rabanus…

It is useless to dwell longer here on the arguments of the ones and the others. Each camp has stayed much too long on its positions, leaving the impression the debate on this issue is doomed to futility and no certainty is possible as for the informative value of this text. That's not the case. Namely what's interesting in the text ascribed to Rabanus Maurus, basic text, since it is the main source of many hagiographies of Mary the Magdalene (for example, since this writing Jacopo da Voragine composed his note on Mary the Magdalene in the "Golden Legend"), it is finally not so much its date of composition (at latest the 12th century), but the eventual age of the traditions conveyed. The author's reference to ancient writings of which he is inspired to compose his life of Mary the Magdalene, is an essential aspect of the text. Rabanus (for sake of convenience, let's call the author of this Life so) asserts indeed he is inspired by texts prior to himself. He asserts in his preamble: "… to expose with fidelity the events arrived after the Ascension to these friends of the Saviour after what our fathers have learned by tradition, and left us in their writings." And still later evokes: "… what the ancient histories report to us…" These references to ancient texts could be literary formulas merely, unfounded, meant to endow a text with more authority.

We do not think that is the case. Why? Very simply becuse the figure of Mary the Magdalene presented in the text, by her features, refers to the first times of Christianity. I explain: in the narrative of Rabanus, Mary the Magdalene, arriving to Marseille, announces the Gospel to the inhabitants of the Phocaean city, teaching them the new faith, before converting the king and queen of Marseille to the doctrine of Christ. In the Middle Ages this position is not envisageable for a woman in the Catholic doctrine. The position of the Church of Rome toward the women rests then on the "First Epistle to the Corinthians" (XIV, 33-35) that is very clear on this subject: "As in all churches of the saints, let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husband at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church." It must be emphasized by the way that the very active role given to Mary the Magdalene in the Provençal legend has shocked more than one author then. In a sermon on Mary the Magdalene, Vincent Ferrier asserts, if she withdrew to Sainte-Baume to live in contemplation, that is because she realized that teaching the crowds she was violating the apostolic law, reserving the teaching to men only. This argumentation is frequent: it is met in Vincent de Beauvais.

Elisabeth Pinto-Matthieu notes on this subject this kind of unease felt for the feminine preaching of Mary the Magdalene is constant in the first versions of the legend. It is in fact about an element foreign to mediaeval thought, bringing us back to the first centuries of the Church, when opposition is attested between the orthodox party (in the sense this term assumes when the first times of the Church are studied: it refers then to the Great Church nascent around the Church of Rome…) and the Gnostic party. The orthodox refuse the woman any active role. The Gnostics, considering the woman on a footing of equality with the man, recognize her the same rights. In the Gnostic sects, the women teach, baptize, exorcise. As many actions are ascribed to the Magdalene as to her fellow travellers. Since then, one conclusion is possible only: the text of Rabanus Maurus has been fabricated from ancient texts. If the text itself was composed in the 9th or in the 12th century, doesn't matter much henceforth.

VM: - Did Jesus belong to a Gnostic sect?

Ch. D.: I'd tend to answer: "yes". Tend because there is no text preserved by Jesus, and his teaching is only known through third sources, hence likely to distort his remarks. There remains no less that the presence of Gnostic elements in the teaching of Jesus preserved by the canonic text is flagrant. In the "Gospel of John", Jesus has very Gnostic remarks (I think notably on John VIII, 31-47 where Jesus distinguishes the God whose envoy he is of the God of the Jews whom he identifies with the Devil…). Of course, many plead the fourth gospel offers a vision of Jesus lately developed in the Johannic ambience, an ambience influenced by the Gnostic currents… However, it must be observed, unlike the general idea, the fourth gospel is not the only canonical gospel to give Jesus very Gnostic remarks. Matthew shows Jesus condemning procreation in XIX, 12: "For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it." There is but one example among others.

It must be pointed out besides, the flagrant contradictions dotting the gospels can only be understood by admitting Jesus formulated many different teachings, after the persons with whom he was dealing. This élitism is very Gnostic, and yet openly claimed by Jesus. In IV, 10-12 Mark makes him tell the Twelve: "Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted and their sins should be forgiven them."

My opinion about the adherence of Jesus to a Gnostic sect does not rest on these points only, quite particular, of his teaching. Other elements, of biographic kind, give credence to the adherence of Jesus to a Gnostic sect. It is known, thanks to the descriptions given by the heresiologists, that the Gnostic baptism took place twice. One immersion in the waters. An anointment then. Jesus has been baptized by John the Baptism and anointed by Mary the Magdalene. If the texts of the New Testament draw no connection between both instances, it's quite curious to observe both essential moments of the life of Jesus occur at a place named Bethany. It is very astonishing. Many etymologies have been suggested to the name Bethany. The likeliest, retained today, gives for the sense of Bethany: the house of the poor. It is known that among the first Christians, some had themselves called the "poor", for they rejected the riches of this world. All implies hence that Jesus evolved in an ascetic community of this type, within which evolved already Mary the Magdalene who, as member of the sect, proceeded to anoint him…

VM:- The Gnostics (and not only they) seem to have had a very reductive vision of the women. It can be read in the Gospel according to Thomas: "Simon Peter said to them: "Make Mary leave us, for females don't deserve life." _ Jesus said: "Look, I will guide her to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every female who makes herself male will enter the kingdom of Heaven." What is your opinion?

Ch. D.: One must not be mistaken on the sense of this passage. However, many are. Sexuality here evoked by Jesus is not of the body. For the Gnostics, the soul, fallen in matter, is of feminine essence. This sexuality of the soul is not random. As the body is masculine, it allowed the Gnostic theologians to develop a very eloquent image: of the soul/prostitute captive of the matter. After a principle similar to the "eternal wandering" of the Buddhists, in Gnosis, the soul that doesn't liberate herself of the attraction of this world is condemned to reincarnate ceaselessly. She's like a prostitute passing from a body to another, without ever stopping to change "companion". The only means for the soul to get free of this hellish cycle of the reincarnations is to join her heavenly image that is her spirit. This spirit is of masculine essence. The soul joining thereto frees herself of the hold of body. And yet Gnosis is based on a logic of transformation. To join her spirit, the soul must be identified thereto _ without which she cannot see him. The soul hence must, from feminine, become masculine. This transformation is hinted by Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas.

The woman benefitted indeed in the Gnostic sects of a role absolutely particular. As I have pointed out, the women there were equal to the men. The Gnostic women could also teach and baptize as much as they. The orthodox took a very dim view at that. They called the Gnostic women prostitutes, maybe as, in the Antique World, the courtisans were the only women who had the freedom to learn. One of those who attacked the Gnostic women with most vehemence, is Tertullian. In his treatise on baptism, Tertullian took on a woman teaching at the head of an assembly of believers in North Africa. Elsewhere he condemns the heretic Marcion, precisely because the latter appointed women on a footing of equality with priests and bishops. He also strove to discredit the "Acts of Thecla", a text attributed to Paul circulating in Gnostic and Montanist communities: there was seen a woman, Thecla, who had received from Paul the power to teach, exorcise and baptize. The heresiologists have preserved for us the names of many great Gnostic teachers of the feminine sex. Irenaeus evokes a certain Marcellina, come to teach at Rome. After his words, there she "caused the loss of a big number"…

The Gnostics were hence far from having a reductive vision of women.

VM:- Were Jesus and Mary the Magdalene married? Were they lovers? Did they have children?

Ch. D.: The idea that Mary the Magdalene and Jesus were married is attractive, but in the current state of my research, nothing suggests me it was the case. First, no ancient text shows traditions relating to such a union. Many authors have believed to find the proof, at least a clue, in the "Gospel of Philip" pointing out Mary the Magdalene was the "companion" of Jesus and the latter often kissed her on the mouth. Interpreting these assertions in a sexual sense is an error. The "Gospel of Philip" is an encratic text: it condemns openly the carnal marriage maintaining the work of the Demiurge. Its subject is the spiritual marriage. If Mary the Magdalene is the companion of Jesus there, it is hence in the mystical sense of the term. As for the kisses on the mouth, in Gnostic symbolics they represent the transmission of the "logos".

Then, if no tradition attests to a physical union between Jesus and Mary the Magdalene, many traditions on the other hand are opposed, notably all these making of Mary the Magdalene a virgin, in the physical sense of the term…

Saying so, I'm situated counter to the current tendency. I speak of the current tendency in the ambiences interested in Mary the Magdalene from the viewpoint of the mystery she represents. There, many take the union of Mary the Magdalene and Jesus for granted. My remarks on this issue hence provoke a certain number of objections. For example, if Jesus was Rabbi, he was married obligatorily. It is fitting Jesus in Judaic Orthodoxy, and yet, I am closely convinced that Jesus marks a break with the Orthodox Judaism. Many features of his conduct point this out. For example, his attitude toward the women. During the episode of the "best part", Jesus is alone with Mary the Magdalene seated at his feet. This intimacy is inconceivable in the Jewish world. Beside, the posture of Mary the Magdalene, seated at the feet of Jesus has, in the conventions of the epoch, a very precise sense: it signifies Mary the Magdalene is the disciple of Jesus. There again, that is not conceivable for a Jew… All academic exegetes admit that Mary the Magdalene, to receive Jesus at home so, necessarily belonged to the Hellenized Jewish ambience… That is confirmed by other elements.

All Gnostic texts evoke this conflictual relation of Jesus to Judaism. The "Testimony of Truth", for example, asserts that Jesus came to abolish the Law, mainly concerning carnal procreation. The opposition of Jesus to Judaism is very clear there, his condemnation of carnal procreation explicit. This idea is met in the Mandaeans for whom Jesus betrayed the Baptist. The "Book of John" shows John the Baptist reproaching Jesus for his treason. The author gives there a more precise overview of the points on which Jesus parted with the Baptist. Among them, there is found the rejection of the Law and, thing as much important and combined: the condemnation of procreation. "You have fooled the Jews and mislead the priests, you've forbidden the men to beget, the women to conceive and to be pregnant etc."

It is true, my position on the issue of reports between Jesus and the Magdalene rests much on my near certainty of their adherence to a Gnostic movement. And yet, Gnosis rejects, as I have pointed out, carnal procreation. That, de facto, forbids Jesus and Mary the Magdalene to have a child. To which many have opposed the existence of libertine Gnostic currents. Two things on this issue. First of all, as these libertine currents have been pointed out by the heresiologists only, one can have no certainty for the reality of these libertine sects. The accusation of sexual debauchery is a mode of defamation as worn as spread: the orthodox Christians themselves were accused of the worst orgies by their detractors… In some cases, the purely defaming character of the remarks of heresiologists is besides acknowledged. Concerning the accusation made against the disciples of Carpocrates, that they have their women in common, it seems established to have originated in the very condition the women enjoyed within the sect, where they were no more regarded as "property" of their husbands and "inferior" (submission imposed by the Torah) but set on a footing of equality with the man. Then the descriptions must be reread which the orthodox authors have given of these Gnostic sects said to be libertine. The sexual libertinage there is tolerated to the extent it has no consequences: carnal procreation remains forbidden categorically. Hence, there including if Jesus and Mary the Magdalene had belonged to such currents what I don't believe, their "religion" would've forbidden them to have a child.

End of the first part

Doumergue, Christian, Marie Madeleine, la Reine Oubliée, Tome 1: l'épouse du Christ, éditions Lacour, Nîmes, 2004

zurück zur Startseite

© 2004 Baphomet