Who is Mary Magdalene (Mary of Magdala)?
Biblical Scholar Statement
July 11, 2019 DRAFT
On June 3, 2016 the Vatican elevated St. Mary Magdalene’s Memorial to a Feast. In his letter accompanying the decree, Archbishop Roche stated that Mary Magdalene:“… is the witness to the risen Christ and announces the message of the Lord’s resurrection just like the rest of the Apostles.” He concludes, “… it is right that theliturgical celebration of this woman should have the same rank of Feast as that given to the celebration of the Apostles.”
The “ReclaimMagdalene” project brings biblical scholarship on the identity and role of Mary Magdalene into the public sphere. Scholars consistently identify Mary Magdalene (aka Mary of Magdala) as the disciple/apostle Jesus chose to be his Resurrection witness and not the “unnamed sinner” (Luke 7.36-50) or Mary of Bethany (John 12. 1-8). The goals of thisproject are to publicize her “ministry of witness” (“Encountering the Risen Jesus: Mary Magdalene as Prototype”, BC Lecture, 07-19-2013, S. Schneiders, I.H.M.)– her true role in scripture, inspire new art (paintings, films, books, poems, plays, songs, etc.), relabel art and correct other works that misrepresent her. This will bring the full Gospel out of the shadows and repair at least some of the damage caused by medieval legends and artistic portrayals of her as the mournful, or lascivious penitent prostitute.
The “Mary Magdalene Scholar Statement” and the Mary Magdalene Scripture Texts file will be sent to authors, filmmakers, visual artists, art critics, songwriters, publishers, media organizations, etc. with a request that they create new works that present Mary Magdalene’s witness, faith, and leadership as presented in the gospels and correct or relabel works that misrepresent her.
The Scholar Statement and Scripture Texts will also be sent to museums, universities, churches, etc. with requests that they identify and re-label art that misrepresents Mary Magdalene to alert viewers that the image or writings do not reflect the actual scripture text. A sample label is provided in the appendix. We will publicize the new art, books, etc., and corrections.
The Scholar Statement’s “Key Facts” section is designed to help readers envision Mary Magdalene’s role in scripture, along with the history of misrepresentations, and an estimate of the value of corrections in one concise read. If you are short on timeplease read the questions that introduce each section and the text in bold– they convey the essential information.
We have lost much through the distortions of Mary Magdalene and have much to gain in reclaiming her full gospel role. Join us; share this document and advocate for new art, books, songs, plays, teaching and preaching that present the Mary Magdalene of scripture to all.