Book Jacket

 

rank 5910
word count 75930
date submitted 22.10.2012
date updated 23.10.2012
genres: Historical Fiction, History, Religi...
classification: universal
incomplete

The Gospel According to Mary Magdalene

Gary Tillery

What if archaeologists were to discover a new Gospel—one historically accurate?

 

Gary Tillery has researched the historical figure of Jesus for over thirty years, scouring hundreds of books by the world’s most eminent Bible scholars. The Gospel according to Mary Magdalene draws on these rich but obscure sources to create a demystified account of Jesus. His story is related from the point of view of his closest female companion, whose own fictional biography is overlaid on history that is as accurate as modern scholarship can make it. The result is a novel that informs while it entertains. For example, how many people are aware that no one called him “Jesus”? That he was born in a cave? That he had four brothers whose names are known to us? That the “garden” of Gethsemane was more likely a cave where olive oil was processed? That his hands were probably not nailed to the cross but tied? That the earliest version of the first book written about him did not include a resurrection? More properly novelized history than historical fiction, this “gospel” is intended to replace the hazy image most people have of Jesus and his time with one truer to life—including recognition of Mary Magdalene as Jesus’ wife.

 
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bible, bible history, caiaphas, galilee, gospel, herod, jesus, john the baptist, mary magdalene, pontius pilate, yeshua

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Author's Note

For more than two centuries now, scholars have labored to discern the truth behind the events described in the New Testament. We are well into the third academic “quest” to recover the historical Jesus—that is, to distinguish what is likely authentic from what is likely legendary.

Though we will never be certain about what happened, diligent work by thousands of scholars has produced a clearer picture. The challenge is to make their insights accessible to the non-specialist. To that end, The Gospel according to Mary Magdalene tells the story of the origins of Christianity as seen through the eyes of Jesus’s closest female companion.

From Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, we glean the barest details about Mary Magdalene: Jesus drove seven demons out of her; she witnessed his crucifixion; she was the first to discover his empty tomb; his first post-death appearance was to her. It follows that her story in this “gospel” is fictional. However, the foundation on which her fictional story unfolds is as close to authentic history as I could make it, based on my reading of the top scholars in the field. Where scholarly conclusions differ, and where the Gospels themselves conflict, I have tried to chart the most reasonable course.

Most readers of the New Testament simply assume that what they read was there from the beginning. That assumption is false. The earliest manuscripts we have date from more than a century after the death of Jesus, so we have to wonder what copyist errors were made in the interim. On top of that, many of the words and deeds we now attribute to Jesus are missing from the early manuscripts we do have. Other copyists inserted them later—decades or even centuries later—for unknown reasons. Examples of this are eye-opening:

 

Luke 22:20—“And in the same way after supper Jesus took the cup and said, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.’ ”

 

Luke 24:51—“And when Jesus blessed them he departed from them and he was taken up into heaven.”

 

John 8:3-11—The entire story of the woman taken in adultery (“Let the one who is without sin among you be the first to cast a stone,” etc.)—an anecdote that many mistakenly believe refers to Mary Magdalene.

 

1 John 5:7—“There are three that bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one.”

 

For guidance on which words and deeds attributed to Jesus are most probably authentic I have leaned primarily on the conclusions of The Jesus Seminar, a group of New Testament experts that has labored for decades to reach a scholarly consensus.

Arranging these likely authentic words and events into the most reasonable chronology was another challenge. Scholars have long been aware that the men who wrote the Gospels—even Mark, the earliest—did not set down events in their correct sequence.

Sources for the facts and presumptions underpinning this story can be found at the end of each chapter, tied to key words and phrases in the text. At least skim them and you’ll often find information that will surprise you. Where I cite no source you must assume that the detail is my own surmise or invention. I truly regret any omissions of proper credit—they are definitely unintentional.

I have tried to keep invention to a minimum. My aim is not to create fiction but, to the greatest degree possible, to ground the narrative on sound scholarship.  The Gospel according to Mary Magdalene was written to approximate history.

 

                                                              

 

Note: TJS = The Jesus Seminar.  Sayings or reports marked in this way were found to be undoubtedly, probably or at least possibly historical by a group of New Testament experts. Source: Robert W. Funk & The Jesus Seminar, The Gospel of Jesus according to the Jesus Seminar, 1999.

 

Note: Translations are identified in parentheses following each citation, and—unless otherwise specified—are from The Gospel of Jesus according to the Jesus Seminar (TJS); The New Oxford Annotated Bible, New Revised Standard Version, Third Edition, NT, (NRSV); Holy Bible: King James Version (KJV); The Original New Testament, Schonfield (ONT); The Fifth Gospel, Patterson, Robinson, Bethge (FG); The Gospel of Thomas, Davies (GOT); J. B. Phillips New Testament (JBP); Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCS); Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV); Holy Bible: New Century Version (NCV); or The Lost Gospel Q, Marcus Borg, ed. (Q).

 

2    Jesus drove seven demons out of her — TJS, Luke 8:2. Also, Mark 16:9.

2    she witnessed his crucifixion — TJS, Mark 15:40.

2    she was the first to discover his empty tomb. — Mark 16:1.

2    his first post-death appearance was to her. — TJS, Matthew 28:9-10; John 20:14-17.

3    Examples of this are eye-opening:Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus, 63-65 and 265-6. (Translations by Ehrman) I heartily recommend Ehrman’s books for insight into the complicated, problematic, messy process that resulted in the New Testament texts so many readers now take for granted.

3    did not set down events in their correct sequence. — Robert W. Funk & The Jesus Seminar, The Acts of Jesus, 179. Because of the disparity between the order of events in Mark and Matthew, the two earliest gospels, “scholars conclude that the authors of the gospels did not know the actual sequence of events.” Also see Ehrman, Peter, Paul & Mary Magdalene, 8. Papias of Hierapolis, writing early in the second century, said that Mark’s purpose was to relate Peter’s recollections of what Jesus had said and done, but Papias characterized Mark as unclear about the actual sequence of events. 

                                                          


 
Key Names

 

Yeshua/Yeshu            Jesus

Mariamne of Magdala        Mary Magdalene

Ioannes Marcus        John Mark, writer of the Gospel

Maria/Maryam        Mary, mother of Jesus

Yosef                Joseph, husband of Mary

Yochanan the Baptizer    John the Baptist

Zecharyah            Zechariah, father of John the Baptist

Elisheba            Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist

Moshe                Moses

Herodes Antipas        Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great

Yosef bar Kayafa        Joseph Caiaphas, the high priest

Pontios Pilatos            Pontius Pilate

Hanan                Annas/Ananus, former high priest

Chouzas            Chuza, steward to Herod Antipas

Yoanna            Joanna, wife of Chuza

Sousanna            Susanna, follower and supporter of Jesus

Yehosef of Harimathaia    Joseph of Arimathea

Nikodemos            Nicodemus

Ioannes the Priest        John, the Gospel author (“the Beloved”)

Yoseh                Joses, brother of Jesus

   

The Twelve:

Shimon/Kefa            Simon/Peter

Andreas            Andrew, brother of Peter

Yacob                James, son of Zebedee

Yukhanan            John, son of Zebedee

Nathanael            AKA Bartholomew (Bar-Tolmai)

Philippos            Philip

Yehuda Thomas        Judas Thomas (“the twin”)

Mattiya/Maththaios        Matthew

Yacob                James, brother of Jesus (“the Just”)

Shimon            Simon, brother of Jesus (“the Zealot”)

Yehuda/Thaddaios        Juda/Jude, brother of Jesus (AKA Lebbaeus)

Yehuda of Kerioth        Judas Iscariot

Matia                Matthias (replaced Judas Iscariot)

 

 

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July Fourth wrote 525 days ago

I love the line '...the holy writings were translated into Greek, which would not have been necessary if the Lord's people were not forgetting Hebrew.'

Gary T wrote 530 days ago

Sorry to hear about your traumatic experience. It seemed a plausible reason for Mary's demons. Chapter 4 focuses on history, because I wanted people to get the proper context on Jesus and his world. Things take off in Chapter 5, where Mary meets him.

I have read the 3rd chapter, and am in agreement with the possiblilty as to why Mary of Magdala would have had 7 demons. This might be more than I should reveal here, but I was molested as a young child, and can attest to how it can allow the demons to come in, as well as the healing that I have received. I'm sure there are lots of others that can feel a 'kinship' to Mary, as you have written it.
Very well constructed. Really liking it so far.

July Fourth wrote 530 days ago

I have read the 3rd chapter, and am in agreement with the possiblilty as to why Mary of Magdala would have had 7 demons. This might be more than I should reveal here, but I was molested as a young child, and can attest to how it can allow the demons to come in, as well as the healing that I have received. I'm sure there are lots of others that can feel a 'kinship' to Mary, as you have written it.
Very well constructed. Really liking it so far.

July Fourth wrote 534 days ago

Dear Author,
I was asked by 'Spilato' to take a look at your book, based on my profile. I have read only the first 2 chapters thus far, but will continue over the next few days as my schedule allows.
The first thing that I find very interesting is that you are a man (as the name Gary would imply) but you write from a woman's perspective. And very well, I might add.
Some of the ideals that you have presented about Mary Magdalene and Jesus ,I have done a small amount of research on myself. That they actually lived together as husband and wife might be more than some would want to fathom, but from my research into the breaking of the alabaster box on His feet (regardless of what woman did it, because there is contraversy concerning who did or didn't) the fact remains that it was the custom of a woman accepting her suitor as a her future husband. So, even if not done in the physical, I feel it certainly took place in a symbolic way.
I, personally, believe that the women in Jesus' life were used for the spreading of His gospel in ways that then, and now, are looked at in disbelief for the sheer fact that women were/are considered 'lower class' citizens. I fully believe that when Jesus told Mary to 'Go tell the disciple....' after the resurrection, that He was speaking to all women who would follow Him as Mary did.
I honor your choice of subject you chose to write about, and will score accordingly.

Gary T wrote 536 days ago

Thanks Philip. I'm still very new to this site and exploring. Just wanted to respond and say that I'm a freethinker myself. But I've learned a lot from research over the years and Jesus intrigues me as a historical figure. Best wishes.

An interesting and magnificently researched book which ought to succeed as a work of great scholarship. I am always interested in reading books like this I am afraid that my own time spent in the Holy Land drove virtually all religion out of my system. Sad but there it is.
I wish you well.
Philip John

Spilota wrote 536 days ago

This is well researched and considerably more readable than I had feared.

philip john wrote 541 days ago

An interesting and magnificently researched book which ought to succeed as a work of great scholarship. I am always interested in reading books like this I am afraid that my own time spent in the Holy Land drove virtually all religion out of my system. Sad but there it is.
I wish you well.
Philip John

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