History of religion

The Mystery of Mary Magdalene

(Published in GralsWelt 51/2008)

A suspenseful thriller became a world bestseller and sparked discussions on the history of religion: Dan Browns "Sacrilege" (English: "The Da Vinci Code").

Soon the adventurous thriller was followed in several languages by theological works that put historical inaccuracies in Browns Thriller denounce. Various assertions of the bestseller are discussed, commented on, refuted. One would almost think that this is not a fictional story, but a scientific work.

At the center of the discussions is a question that is highly provocative for the churches and many Christians, a sacrilege that is downright outrageous for some: Did Jesus have a relationship with a woman? Was Jesus married?

The sacrilege

Dan Browns Da Vinci Code is a cleverly composed crime novel, now also filmed, made up of familiar elements. These are woven into a tangle that finally unravels in the course of an exciting plot, after many surprising twists. The work is not really more captivating than other thrillers by Brown or other successful authors. But it combines set pieces that surprise many and fascinate almost all.

"The companion of the Savior is Mary Magdalene. But Christ loved her more than all the disciples and often kissed her on her mouth. The other disciples were offended. They said to him, 'Why do you love her more than all of us?' The Savior answered and said to them, 'Why do I not love you as I love them?'
                    From the Gospel of Philip

These topics are:

  • It is about Jesus, the most important figure in Western history.
  • Confusing many is the provocative hypothesis that Jesus with Mary Magdalene was married and had children. This claim is by no means new. The key witness for this speculation nowadays is Philipwhose gospel was found only in 1945 in Nag Hammadi (Upper Egypt). In the Gnosis[i] and in the Rosicrucian mysticism corresponding things have been handed down for a long time, and even Luther is said to have believed in it. (5, S. 152).
  • According to very old, legendary lore fled Mary Magdalene after the crucifixion. She landed in the south of France, where there is still a procession to commemorate her landing in Les-Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer (St. Mary of the Sea). She reportedly also carried the communion chalice with her. This - or another ancient chalice of unclear origin - is now kept in the Cathedral of Valencia ("The Christ Cup and the Search for the Grail").
  • The church supposedly knows about the bodily descendants of Jesus and is trying to suppress the knowledge of it.
  • The bloodline of the heirs of Jesus was known to the mythical Knights Templar. After their demise, this knowledge of the Templars was used by a secret society.[ii] handed down to the present day. Descendants of JesusThose who are still alive today are protected by this society shrouded in mystery.
  • This secret society included such celebrities as. Leonardo Da Vinci and Isaac NewtonThey passed down their hidden knowledge in coded symbols that not everyone could understand. Deciphering these cryptic symbols is one of the essential tasks of the heroes of Brown's exciting story.
  • As a modern counterpart of this secret society appears at Dan Brown the Catholic lay order "Opus Dei".
  • The finale takes place in Rosslyn Chapel (in Roslyn near Edinburgh), which everyone interested in Templar mysticism has heard of.

These building blocks of the plot can be found in esoteric literature. A large part of the material have Lincoln/Baigent/Leigh (7) First published in English in 1982. Dan Brown refers to Baigent in his thriller with the anagram "Teabing," and also the name Saunièrewhich plays a role in (7), appears.

A thousand years ago, it would have been a tremendous sensation if descendants of Jesus and King David[iii] had lived and had made and proved legitimate claims to the papal throne. Even today it would not fail to make an impression if someone could credibly claim that among his ancestors there were Jesus has found. But a monstrosity it would be probably above all for the advocates of the celibacy.

Readers of the Grail Message are aware that the Teaching of Jesus is decisive, not the closer circumstances of his personal life. His Words remain the same, may he have been married or not.

The mysterious Mary

In the New Testament there are several Mary's, at that time one of the most common women's names: Mary of Bethany (whom Jesus anointed, John 12), Mary Magdalene, Mary of Nazareth, Mary the mother of James (Matth.27,56; Mark. 16,1; Luk. 24,10); and Mary the wife of Cleopas. (John 19:25). Probably the different Mary's occasionally confused.

For example James as the biological brother of Jesus, so that already two of the Mary's would be identical, unless one assumes that Mary of Nazareth had a sister with the same name, or Joseph in first marriage with another Maria was married.

Mary of Bethany, which some people have Mary Magdalene equate (8, p. 377), must have been rich, if they Jesus could anoint with nard oil worth 300 denarii[iv].

We are interested here in a Maria, a wealthy woman from the port city of Magdala on the Sea of Galilee. Is it conceivable that Jesus was married to her?

"In Jesus' day there was no place in Judea called Magdala[v]but a Magdolum in Egypt. Ancient folk traditions describe Mary Magdalene as a black-skinned woman[vi]. Didn't she come from Israel at all? Is the Egyptian Magdolum her homeland? Then Mary Magdalene was not a Jewess. The marriage of Jesus, who was revered and dubbed as a rabbi, with a non-Jewish woman would have been a terrible breach of taboo. Was Jesus' marriage, for which there is so much circumstantial evidence, covered up as best as possible because Mary Magdalene was absolutely unacceptable from the point of view of Orthodox Judaism?" (5, p. 156 f.).

To put it in a nutshell: Marriage certificates did not exist at that time. For a possible marriage of Jesus there can at best be circumstantial evidence.

The most important source about the life of Jesus is the New Testament. This is a collection of religious writings that have become Jesus and his mission as the Messiah. Historical facts stand for the evangelists - of whom probably none (except perhaps John)... Jesus personally knew - not in the foreground.

So it is already striking enough that Mary Magdalene is assigned an important role even in the male-dominated Christian community: She was a companion of the Lord, the Jesus and supported his disciples (financially)[vii]She discovered the empty tomb and met the Risen Lord.

The historically verified facts from the life of the Mary Magdalene are meager:
"She is a prime example of productive errors. They begin already with her name. Her name was actually Mary of Magdala. Magdalene was a villa suburb of the Roman spa of Tiberias. That is all we know of her. But around her the legends grew and proliferated, the pious imagination began to combine: A Roman bathing resort, where the Dolce Vita belonged to the day and night program, that was nevertheless the ideal field of work for a Gunstgewerblerin! Had this Maria - one thought - perhaps practiced the oldest trade in the world? Did she use her quickly acquired fortune for the maintenance of the disciples? Not a word of it is written in the Bible, but it was a good thing that in Luke a few verses earlier[viii] a sinner who anointed Jesus' feet is mentioned. Of this lady we learn nothing more, not even her name, but her mention was enough to merge Mary of Magdala with the sinner into one figure, namely Mary Magdalene." (1. p. 386 f.)

Mary Magdalene and Jesus

Is there strong evidence to support the claim that Jesus and Magdalene were a couple?

  • Again and again Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper referred to. The man depicted in the painting to the right of Jesus Sitting apostles - mostly John thus clearly has female features and could be the companion of Jesus.
  • There are other depictions of the Last Supper that feature a female person: for example, a work by the French Baroque painter Philip de Champaigne (1602-1674) and a depiction of the Last Supper in the little-known church of Kirchbrack in the Weserbergland. In Kirchbrack, in addition to the 12 apostles, there is clearly a woman (as the 13th apostle?). (5, p. 123 f.). In the inconspicuous parish church "Santi Giacomo e Filippo" in Pianezzo near Bellizona (Switzerland) there are even two female apostles on a representation of the Last Supper! (13, p. 163 f.)
  • Jesus was addressed as "rabbi" (master), and a rabbi at that time was usually (but not necessarily) married.
  • The wedding of Cana, of which usually only the miracle of the transformation of water into wine receives attention, can well be described as the wedding of Jesus explain. (5, S. 150).
  • Various apocryphal[ix] Gospels[x] - not only that of Philip - speak of an intimate relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. How little we know of life Jesus really know, the theologian shows Barbara Thiering. (9). On the basis of the Qumran scrolls, she draws a description of the life, task, and activity of Jesus. For them, for example, it goes without saying that Jesus was married and that he also survived his crucifixion.

Maybe was Mary Magdalene even from Jesus as heiress, who was to continue his work. To the apostles, especially the "woman-hater" (5, p. 165) PeterThis dominant role of a woman was probably repugnant to them, and they overrode their claim to leadership. It was only logical that in the Gospels the prominent position of the Mary Magdalene could not be completely concealed, but its true meaning was obscured.

So there is indeed room for speculation. Countless books deal with the life of Jesus and his followers. Again and again new interpretations emerge. Will we ever know for sure how it really was?

The divine woman

How would Christianity have developed with an outstanding female figure at its head? Hardly the male-dominated, violent church that became the most important world religion.

Under male rule, early Christianity split into various Judeo-Christian and pagan-Christian groups such as Ebionites, Paulans, Marzionites ("The greatest of all heretics"), or various Christian Gnostics ("Fight between light and darkness") etc., some of which were violently divided.

The most ruthless sect, the misogynistic, oppressive Paulans, prevailed. Their most important supporter - Constantine I (Emperor 306-337) - was a criminal tyrant who, for example, had his wife and eldest son murdered after his return home from the Council of Nicea (326). (3, S. 244). This shameful emperor is glorified by the churches until today[xi]while Nero - a criminal of similar caliber - is considered damned. So much for the objectivity of ecclesiastical historiography.

From the time of Constantine also comes the only surviving Christian history of the first centuries, written by Eusebius of Caesarea (ca. 260-340, from 313 bishop of Caesarea), which is strongly influenced by the views of its author. Church critics see in it a propaganda work full of half-truths and lies. (3, S. 244)[xii]. It is hardly surprising that in this ten-volume work of a learned bishop. Mary Magdalene does not receive any attention.

Over time probably merged Mary Magdalene, Mary of Nazareth, and other historical and mythical images of high femininity, such as ancient goddesses or the "Great Mother" ("The cult of the great mother") to a theological construction, the "Mother of God", who is venerated as the Queen of Heaven and forms a small balance to the pure male rule in the churches.

(1) Barthel Manfred, Was wirklich in der Bibel steht, Econ, 2001.
(2) Brown Dan, Sakrileg, Gustav Lübbe, Bergisch Gladbach, 2005.
(3) Burstein Dan, The Truth about the Da Vinci Code, Goldmann, Munich, 2004.
(4) Deschner Karlheinz, Der gefälschte Glaube, Heyne, Munich, 1995.
(5) Langbein Walter-Jörg, Das Sakrileg und die heiligen Frauen, Aufbau, Berlin 2004.
(6) Lehmann Johannes, Das Geheimnis des Rabbi J., Rasch und Röhrig, Hamburg, 1985.
(7) Lincoln/Baigent/Leigh, Der Heilige Gral und seine Erben, Gustav Lübbe, Bergisch Gladbach, 1982.
(8) Schwarz Günther and Jörn, Das Jesus-Evangelium, Ukkam, Munich,1993.
(9) Thiering Barbara, Jesus of Qumran, Gütersloher Verlagshaus, Gütersloh, 1993.
(10) (with illustrations)
(11) http::// (with illustrations)
(12),1872,2279152,00.html (with illustrations)
(13) Luc Bürgin "Lexikon der verbotenen Geschichte," Kopp, Rottenburg, 2018.
[i] Gnosis = knowledge, knowledge. Name for various religious endeavors of the first centuries.
[ii] This secret society would be the "Prieuré de Sion" about which (7) reports in detail. It is considered the invention of a 20th century writer.
[iii] For example, in Matth. 1,1-17 the genealogy of Jesus is given, namely in the paternal Line!
[iv] Around the birth of Christ, a worker or a legionary earned 1 denarius per day. With this he could maintain a family with housing, food, clothing. Pliny (23-79) mentions 300 denarii as the price for a libra (327.5 g) of the finest ointment. (8, p. 377 and
[v] The village of Magdala (about 10 km from Capernaum?) is listed on maps for the 1st century in the appendix of some Bibles, although its location and existence are disputed. (Cf. e.g. (Cf. e.g. the Einheitsübersetzung of the Katholische Bibelanstalt, Stuttgart, 1980).
[vi] Whoever wants to, can assume in the dark-skinned Mary Magdalene the model for the Black Madonna. However, the Black Madonna is often seen as the successor of the Earth Mother, unless one attributes the dark color to aging and candle soot.
[vii] Luk 8, 2-3.
[viii] Luk 7:37.
[ix] The Apocrypha were not included in the biblical canon.
[x] Z. For example, the "Gospel of Mary," see 3, p. 202.
[xi] In the Armenian, Greek and Russian churches Constantine is considered a saint.
[xii] The fact that Eusebius wrote an openly biased biography of Constantine after his death also speaks against his seriousness as a historian.