The Secret Gospel of Mary Magdalene

Michele Roberts, Author, Michle Roberts, Author
Michele Roberts, Author, Michle Roberts, Author Pegasus Books $13.95 (192p) ISBN 978-1-933648-56-9
Reviewed on: 07/30/2007
Release date: 08/01/2007
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Inspired by the Nag Hammadi gospels, Roberts (Reader, I Married Him) has imagined a Gnostic gospel according to Mary Magdalene. Her Mary is a composite of three women mentioned in the biblical gospels, and she tells many of the same stories, albeit from a different perspective, as do the canonical gospel writers. In particular, a number of the miracles recorded in the Bible appear in this novel, and Roberts's intriguing take on these events follows no boring or predictable pattern. The Jesus of this novel is a genial, nonjudgmental sort who preaches inscrutable homilies, and happily keeps company with the excessively abstemious Simon Peter as well some more sexually liberated followers. While Roberts's Jesus and Mary both express some powerful ideas about the feminine aspect of God, the unity of the spiritual and the physical, and the legitimacy of ecstatic, revelatory experience, the novel leaves readers befuddled as to what the alternative Christianity this Jesus preached would look like. Nonetheless, it does succeed to some extent as an exploration of what early Christian feminism may have looked like, and is perhaps strongest and most poignant at those moments when Jesus' closest female companions find themselves subtly but inexorably excluded from leadership in the early church.
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