Inner Awareness

Mary Magdalene, the apostle above apostles


In last week’s column, we showed how the early Catholic hierarchy tried to marginalize Mary Magdalene by portraying her as a prostitute and a repentant sinner, although there is absolutely no evidence in the Bible that this was so.

Whereas the official canonical gospels only briefly mention Mary Magdalene as one of a handful of women who were followers of Jesus, the Gnostic Gospels discovered in a cave near Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in 1945 paint an entirely different picture of her.

In these lost gospels, Mary Magdalene emerges not only as the beloved of Christ and his constant companion, but was the first to be the recipient of the secret teachings given by Christ after his resurrection, a fact which caused some grumblings and jealousy from the male apostles, especially from Peter.

According to some biblical writers, the idea that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were lovers could be gauged from the Greek word “koinonos,” which was mistranslated as “companion.” It should have been more accurately translated as “consort” or a “companion of a sexual nature,” an intimate partner who shared the Master’s private thoughts and secret knowledge. She was “the woman who knows all,” according to Jesus in one of the Gnostic Gospels entitled “Dialogue of the Savior.”

The male disciples and the early Christian fathers could not accept the idea of Christ having a female consort or intimate partner, and that’s why Mary Magdalene had to be emasculated and her image reduced to that of a penitent prostitute. Almost all early paintings of Mary Magdalene portrayed her as either completely or partly naked, sensuous and erotic.

Lynn Picnett, in her book about Mary Magdalene, pointed out that “Jewish prejudice against women in religious activities is reflected quite clearly in the New Testament letters ascribed to Saul of Tarsus (later Paul), which—characteristically devoid of biographical detail about Jesus—never mention Mary Magdalene or Jesus’ appearance to her in his resurrected state in the garden.”

Leader of the apostles

But in the Gnostic texts, continued Picknett: “There is strong evidence that she was not merely a disciple, but actually the leader of the apostles. The Gnostic texts referred to her as ‘The Apostle of the Apostles,’ or, even more accurately, as ‘The First Apostle.’ They believe that Jesus himself had given her the title, for he referred to her in other accounts as ‘The Woman Who Knows All.’” Among all the disciples, it was Mary Magdalene who knew and understood the inner secret teachings.

In the Gnostic text called “Pistis Sophia,” Jesus said: “Where I shall be, there will also be my 12 ministers. But Mary Magdalene and John, the Virgin (John the Beloved or Lazarus), will tower over all my disciples and over all men who shall receive the mysteries. And they will be on my right and on my left. And I am they, and they are I.”

The above passage bears some resemblance to what Jesus said to Thomas in the Gnostic “Gospel of Thomas” found in Nag Hammadi. “As soon as Thomas recognizes him,” says Dr. Elaine Pagels in her book “The Gnostic Gospels,” “Jesus says to Thomas that they have both received their being from the same source.” Then she quotes the following passage in that gospel:

“Jesus said, ‘I am not your master. Because you have drunk, you have become drunk from the bubbling stream which I have measured out… he who will drink from my mouth will become as I am. I myself shall become he, and the things that are hidden will be revealed to him.’”

Why do Christians, especially Filipino Christians, know so little about the existence of these Gnostic texts? Because they were banned and largely destroyed by the dominant orthodox Christian Church which considered such teachings heretical. Fortunately, a few of their books survived such wanton destruction. They were hidden deep in the caves of Nag Hammadi in Upper Egypt.

How many more banned books lie hidden under the rubble? We do not know. But one thing is certain: These lost Gnostic texts show the esoteric side of Christ’s teachings which the Orthodox Church obviously did not want the faithful to know. But in this modern technological world where virtually anything written can be accessed through the Internet, the attempt to suppress such knowledge is bound to fail.

As Christ would have said: “Those that are hidden will be revealed. Let those who have ears listen.”

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  • Banono

    Other writings purporting to be from the apostles themselves which teaches a gospel that is different from those taught by the apostles which in turn is also according to the Holy Scripture (take note that at this time the New Testament is not yet written but is still in the process of being acted out by the apostles and the early first century Christian believers that whenever Scripture is mentioned in the New Testament it refers to the Old Testament) have been widespread in the first few centuries right from the apostles lifetime.
    Thus it is evident even in the Bible (in the New Testament we now have) that the apostles dealt with such lies sown by the devil. That is why it is written:
    “we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come.” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2)
    And the Bible sternly warned us that:
    “even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!” (Galatians 1:8-9)
    And not to believe everything but thoroughly test and try them whether they are from God or not, that is whether such teachings is in accord with the written words of God:
    “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)
    “ If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.” (1 Timothy 6:3-5)
    It is not with the physical attributes that we can discern whether a message written in certain writings is of God or not but it is in the consistency of the message itself when compared with those writings already recognized as coming from God or that teaches godly instructions. For we know that God is not yes and no and that the Holy Spirit is always consistent.
    That is why despite that around 40 different men from different place, culture and time for a period of about 2000 years wrote the compendium of 66 books we now call the Bible (Old and New Testament) the integrity of their message remains the same because they are guided by the Holy Spirit. The same truth can be applied for whatever writings there may be that purports itself to be the true teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ.
    This calls then that every true Christian believer should have an intimate knowledge of the Bible so that they cannot be misled by the enemy into believing a lie.
    Read and study your Bible with a prayerful, humble and truth-seeking heart. God bless!

    • Peter

      There were 12 apostles, where are their books written by their followers or authored by them,  Asked yourself, who censured the Bible and why?  ‘JESUS DID MANY OTHER THINGS AS WELL.  IF EVERY ONE OF THEM WERE WRITTEN DOWN, I SUPPOSE THAT EVEN THE WHOLE WORLD WOULD NOT HAVE ROOM FOR THE BOOKS THAT WOULD BE WRITTEN – JOHN 21:25. (those who opposed the Gnostic Gospels e.i. Gospel of Thomas, Dialogue of the Savior, Apocalypse of Peter, etc were called, ‘evil, satanic by the early church fathers and you Banono ‘enemy.’

      • Banono

        Quoting John 21:25 that says:
        “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”
        Does not negate nor render null and void what has been revealed and written for us. Always keeping in mind that God is not yes and no, that means He is consistent (see 2 Corinthians 1:19) and further that means that whether God hides or reveal anything it would be consistent with His plan.
        That is why the Holy Scripture admonishes believers that what God have revealed to us is for our own good and what He conceals only belongs to God as it is written:
        “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 29:29)
        As for the Roman Catholics censuring the Bible as you say, it is up to them but that in no way will affect the truth of the Gospel.
        For even if the Roman Catholics can possibly remove every copy of the New Testament all over the world yet that will not even scratch the message of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ for the New Testament is already in the Old Testament concealed and the Old Testament is in the New Testament revealed. That is why the apostles were able to preach the Gospel using only the Old Testament or Tanakh of the Jews for the veil that covered the Jewish rabbis and others who have been reading the Old Testament for several centuries before the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in the flesh have been and can only be uncovered in the Lord Jesus Christ. As the Holy Scripture says:
        “But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.” (2 Corinthians 3:14)
        To the God-fearing people I say read and study the Bible with a humble and prayerful heart. God bless!

      • shiela agape

        People quote from the Bible — the book that is incomplete and was arranged conveniently by Constantin the Great for the purpose of creating a Unified church (to make both early Christians and pagans happy) and of course, him, the most powerful figure during his time…why do you think the Catholic church is the most popular religion of the world? Human intervention. Think everyone..

      • Banono

        The Roman emperor Constantine may have messed around with many of the professing Christians back then before and after 325 AD yet he in no way was able to pollute the veracity of the message of the Bible even if he wanted to, though time and again the enemy never stopped trying to put the written words of God in bad light and once tried to ban it totally.
        As it is now and to the future even as it did thru the centuries, the Bible remains the true witness to the Truth of God as embodied in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
        As a result of that adulterous affair between the majority of professing Christians back then and the temporal worldly power at that time, the Roman Empire, the Roman Catholic Church was born as a group of professing Christians that is totally married to the world.

        Thus, first it is Roman, second Catholic and third a Church but not necessarily a Christian one.

      • Sanctus Amicus

        Jesus never commanded the apostles to write a book.

  • Richard

    gnostic gospel are hoax

    • Peter

      The Catholic Church called it a hoax as they could not accept Mary Magdalene as the one favored by the Savior, In the Gospel of Thomas, it was James that was designated by our Savior as the latter’s successor not Peter and Jesus Christ himself calls the priest, bishops as ‘waterless canals’ that would divert us from the truth.  Gnostic Gospels were carefully examined by high tech gadgets and it was proven that they were written even before the time of Matthew, Mark. Luke and John and they were all proven to be original.

  • Enrico

    Another story to sell something and using even the the Bible verses to make it more interesting and believable. Money money money!

  • juana

    The Gnostics were real and they were a CULT.  Their beliefs differ from the teachings of Christ and they have their own literature to support their teachings, thus the Gospel of Thomas.     

  • kayumanggui46

    Mr. Licauco, you were certainly not alive when the events you narrate actually happened. So you are not an eyewitness who saw with your own eyes that the “early Catholic hierarchy” marginalized Mary Magdalene. You must have relied on sources to make your wild claims which are unsupported by established scholarly views of the issue. I can cite sources, mainstream and established scholarly studies to deny your claims. Can you cite your sources so we can compare which sources–yours or mine–are more credible? Your wild claims and the assumption that everyone should swallow your baseless tales hook, line, and sinker is an insult to the intelligence of Filipino readers, simply because you accept everything you read in books by white writers as gospel truth. If you don’t have time to study real serious books, don’t make fantastic claims you can’t defend logically and with facts! That’s what herbolarios do!

  • yan,cris

    a little learning is a dangerous thing…

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