I was reminded a couple of days ago that at one time, Magdalene.org was the only site that had the text of Psalms of Heracleides available to read online. Although you can now read it via Google Books in Antti Marjanen’s fantastic book, The Woman Jesus Loved, I wanted to make it available here as well.
The Manichaean Psalms is a manuscript discovered among other Coptic manuscripts in the Chester Beatty Collection, and translated into English the 1930’s by Charles Allberry. The original text dates back to the last half of the 4th century. In the book is a psalm called the Psalms of Heracleides, in which Mary Magdalene is mentioned three times. You can see images of the manuscripts and the Psalms of Heracleides online now, in the Chester Beatty Digital Collection.
One of the things that attracted me to this text is the mention of Mary Magdalene as a “net-caster.” Anyone tuned in to the modern discussion about MM will remember hearing about the gematria (numerical value) of her epithet, “the magdalene” (“h magdalhnh” in transliterated Greek), which is 153. The number 153 is significant because it represents the ratio of a vesica piscis, and has been associated with the net-casting and miraculous catch of fish in John 21. An analysis of this idea isn’t something I want to tackle in this post, but it is worth mentioning that there is something brain-tickling about the “net-caster” epithet. I’m so happy to have been reminded of this text.
Psalms of Heracleides:
Man. Ps. II 187
(2) Mariam]me, Mariamme, know me: do not
Stem] the tears of they eyes and know me that I am thy
(5) master. Only touch me not, for I have not seen the
face of my Father.
They God was not stolen away, according to the thoughts of thy
littleness: thy God did not die, rather he mastered death.
(9) I am not the gardener: I have given, I have received the …., I
appeared (?) [not]
(10) to thee, until I saw thy tears and they weakness … for (?) me.
Cast this sadness away from thee and do this service:
be a messenger for me to those lost orphans.
Make haste rejoicing, and go unto the Eleven. Thou
shalt find them gathered together on the bank of the Jordan.
(15) The traitor persuaded them to be fishermen as they were
at first and to lay down their nets with which they caught
men unto life.
Say to them, ‘Arise, let us go, it is your brother that calls
you.’ If they scorn my brotherhood, say to them,
(20) ‘It is your master.’
If they disregard my mastership, say to them, ‘It
is your Lord.’ Use all skill and advice until thou hast brought
the sheep to the shepherd.
If thou seest that their wits are gone, draw Simon Peter
(25) unto thee; say to him, ‘Remember what I uttered
between thee and me.
‘Remember what I said between thee and me in the Mount
of Olives: “I have something to say, I have none to whom
to say it.” ‘
(30) Rabbi, my master, I will serve thy commandment in the
joy of my whole heart.
I will not give rest to my heart, I will not give sleep to my eyes, I
(33) give rest to my feet until I have brought the sheep to the fold.
Glory to Mariamme, because she hearkened to her master,
(35) she] served his commandment in the joy o fher whole heart.
Glory and] victory to the soul of the blessed Mary.
Man. Ps. II 192,21-22
“A net-caster is Mariham, hunting for the eleven others that were lost…”