Thoughts on the 2018 film “Mary Magdalene”

First, let me say this: I loved this movie, and I know I am in the minority. Unlike most film reviewers, I was not bothered by the slow pacing, the wide open spaces in the dialogue, nor the glances loaded with meaning. Also, unlike most audience members, I was not turned off by the “feminist” interpretation (more on that later), nor the non-literal presentation of the Gospel story, because this is a film that asks us to stop clinging to traditional—and often non-textual—readings of Mary Magdalene. Contrary to some reviews, this movie is not based more on Gnostic texts than the Gospels, but it does weave some bright, challenging extra-canonical threads into what has become a comfortingly familiar orthodox fabric. Read more

Mary(s) as orant

Archived from The Magdalene Review on Sunday 18 December 2005:

I spent much of last night sorting through crucifixion, deposition, and entombment images at the Web Gallery of Art. A number of weeks ago I came across a reference in Walter Lowrie’s book, Art in the Early Church to a figure called an orant. This is a figure, usually female, who stands in a very specific attitude of prayer in Christian art; her arms out to her sides, slightly bent, her hands held with palms forward.

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Umberto Eco has been naughty

Archived from The Magdalene Review: Monday 28 November 2005

This is an excerpt from an opinion piece posted today on The Sunday Telegraph opinion page:

God isn’t big enough for some people

by Umberto Eco

G K Chesterton is often credited with observing: “When a man ceases to believe in God, he doesn’t believe in nothing. He believes in anything.” Whoever said it – he was right. We are supposed to live in a sceptical age. In fact, we live in an age of outrageous credulity.

The “death of God”, or at least the dying of the Christian God, has been accompanied by the birth of a plethora of new idols. They have multiplied like bacteria on the corpse of the Christian Church — from strange pagan cults and sects to the silly, sub-Christian superstitions of The Da Vinci Code.

It is amazing how many people take that book literally, and think it is true. Admittedly, Dan Brown, its author, has created a legion of zealous followers who believe that Jesus wasn’t crucified: he married Mary Magdalene, became the King of France, and started his own version of the order of Freemasons. Many of the people who now go to the Louvre are there only to look at the Mona Lisa, solely and simply because it is at the centre of Dan Brown’s book.

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Why start a Mary Magdalene blog?

Archived post from The Magdalene Review: Saturday 26 November 2005

In March, 2005, John Allemang, of The Globe and Mail, a Toronto newspaper, had this to say about my book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Mary Magdalene:

“The author of the Idiots volume on Mary Magdalene, Lesa Bellevie, also runs the website Magdalene.org. Yet the amount of detail the Bible supplies about Mary Magdalene could almost be written on the head of a pin. So you have to admire the sheer opportunism of a publishing company that can offer a Complete Idiot’s Guide to Jesus’ favourite female follower, which explores ‘who she might have been.'”

I don’t hold a grudge, John, I promise, even though I know no one had access to an advance copy of the book. The reason I’ve included these comments is because it reflects the increasingly common belief that before The Da Vinci Code came along, there was nothing to say about Mary Magdalene. I have one thing I’d like to say in response:

Dan Brown didn’t invent Mary Magdalene.

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The Magdalene Blog

When I discovered in 1997 that Mary Magdalene was never identified in the Bible as a prostitute, I was so intrigued that I started a journey that would take me to places I’d never imagined. I started the website Magdalene.org in 1998 to collect everything I was learning, and reached out to the very few authors I could find who had written about her. I didn’t imagine that anyone else would share my rather singular interest, but to my surprise, there was a burgeoning community with diverse ideas all hungry for more information as well. I started the [magdalene-list] Yahoo Groups email list (which still exists in some form), and got online conversations about Mary Magdalene rolling. 

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