Mary Magdalene

The disciple whom Jesus loved

All the Bible says about Mary Magdalene is that she was one of the women who followed Jesus on his tour of Judea, and that she was freed from seven demons. However, a closer look at the Greek original text reveals a wealth of additional information to be found in the few words about this mysterious woman.

What appears is a very different picture from that of the penitent sinner that the church paints of her, and also a different picture from what is suggested in New Age circles, namely that she was the wife of Jesus. I have explained and substantiated my explosive findings in my book Mary Magdalene, the disciple whom Jesus loved. The following text is from Chapter 2 of this book.

The disciple whom Jesus loved

The identity of the author of the fourth gospel has been topic of research and debate for nearly two thousand years. According to received wisdom, it is the apostle John, but in modern times many experts doubt this. Judging from the content of the gospel, it must have been someone who was very close to Jesus. The anonymous author says to report from first hand, about what he has seen with his own eyes, and calls himself the “disciple whom Jesus loved”:

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.
(John 21:20,24)

Why would the author have chosen for anonymity? Several reasons can be thought of, but a very good reason would be because it was a woman!

Women were commonly not taken serious in those days, which is also made clear in a galling passage in the gospel of Luke. When Jesus, after his death, has appeared to a number of women, and they rush to tell of this to the male apostles, they are not believed:

When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.
(Luke 24:9-11)

Full as she was about what she had learned from Jesus, Mary decided to write her own version of the “good message”2. She chose to remain anonymous and assume a male profile in her texts. She deliberately made the audience suspect that this man was the apostle John, as we shall see shortly. However, in an ingenious way, she left a key in the text, with which the true identity of the author could be retrieved. For this, we have to turn to the Greek source text.

The hidden key

In the gospel of John, the formula “the disciple whom Jesus loved” appears five times. Four times, the author chose to use the Greek verb agapaó (from agápe), for the meaning of to love. However, in the passage that describes the discovery of the astonished disciples that the tomb is empty, the Greek verb phileó (from philos) is used:

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved (phileó), and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb.
(John 20:1-3)

In this passage, Mary Magdalene is together with two other disciples present at the empty tomb of Jesus. By calling one of the two men the beloved disciple, making use of another word for to love, her identity as author remains hidden, but she does not deny herself. Through this construction, she can maintain that it was she who first saw the resurrected Jesus.

Also the word “other” stands out in this quote: the other disciple whom Jesus loved. Together with the other word for to love, and Mary Magdalene’s presence in this scene, there is only one logical conclusion: she is the author of this gospel!

A literary construction that is as simple as it is brilliant, and which all this time has successfully hidden that the author of this gospel is a woman. A well-kept secret that allowed her story to be taken seriously and make it through the strict selection process of the early Christian Church fathers, because of which it now is part of the New Testament. This is an honor that did not befall many other gospels from that time. As a consequence her words are read and lavishly cited, across the world and until today.

Pietro Perugino, Christ Giving the Keys to St. Peter, 1482, Sistine Chapel, Rome, Italy. Jesus delivers the keys to the “Kingdom of Heaven” to Peter. This event from the gospels (Matthew 16:19) caused the Catholic Church to reckon Peter as the first pope. Artist Perugino wants to let us know that this honor is actually Mary Magdalene’s. She stands behind Peter in an open posture, because of which she becomes the central figure of the right side of the scene. She is the only one of the apostles who looks at Jesus. The apostle to her left points at her. That this is Mary Magdalene we may deduce from her footwear. All apostles are barefooted. Only Jesus and she wear sandals. Hers are ornamented in such a way that it is clear that this character must be a woman. She holds a small paper scroll in her hand: the gospel she has written!

Christian art

Throughout the ages there have always been initiates, artists and mystics who knew that the Gospel of John was written by Mary Magdalene. In Christian iconography, the apostle John is usually depicted as a beardless young man with feminine features. In many paintings (and also church statues) the evangelist is so clearly a woman that the artist must have had a underlying message for us. Sometimes John is even so feminine that he can only be recognized by his attributes (a Bible with a writing pen, an eagle, and/or a drinking cup with or without poisonous snakes).

Because of the rigid attitude of the church, the truth could not be spoken aloud, but underground it found its way onto the canvas. On the walls of museums, churches and basilicas, voices from the distant past speak to us: Mary Magdalene was the ‘apostle to the apostles’. She was the disciple Jesus loved most!

Paintings and stained glass of the Evangelist John

Defendente Ferrari
(circa 1525)

Hans Baldung (1511)

(first half 17th century)

Sisto Badalocchio (1605-1625)

From: Grandes Heures Anne de Bretagne (1503-1508)

John La Farge (19th century)

This article has been published in Spiegelbeeld magazine (July/August ’19)
Copyright Anne-Marie Wegh 2019

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Anne-Marie Wegh is author of the book:
Mary Magdalene, the disciple whom Jesus loved

By |2022-05-31T12:25:09+00:00April 16th, 2022|Anne-Marie|Comments Off on Mary Magdalene, the disciple whom Jesus loved
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