Part II: Mary Magdalene in the history of Christianity and Contemporary Culture Series 2 – 1

Mary Magdalene: The Origin And Personality

 Mary Magdalene originated from Magdala. Magdala is known in Greek as Tarichaeae. The town had a reputation for exporting quality salt fish and fish oil in antiquity. It is likely Mary herself was engaged in some business related to the fishing industry. This occupation is well attested for women in early Roman Palestine, and the Herodian court at nearby Tiberias regularly purchased goods from female suppliers. The birth Mary in the fishing town of Magdala, and her childhood was between 1 BCE – 13 CE.

Magdala was essential both practically and symbolically for Jesus and His disciples. The name Magdala was derived from the term Mydal, a low stone tower for keeping fish. To Jesus’ mind, Mary was the Magdalene, the woman who embodied the impurity Herod had subjected Magdala. To Mary, Jesus was the Nazarene, the force of Galilean rural purity that could defeat her demons. Together, these names invoke the way Jesus and Mary became joined, the enduring link between them, and the disturbing thought that the force of the holy cannot be contained by the ordinary Conventions of this world[1].

Mary Magdalene is described in the canonical and Apocrypha New Testaments as a devoted disciple of Jesus. When Mary is introduced in Luke 8:2, she is in the company of Joanna, the wife of a Herodian official, suggesting Mary had contact with the court. According to Luke’s gospel, Jesus healed Mary of an unspecified disorder, which singles her out as the only close companion whom he cures. Luke records that Mary “ministered” (the Greek verb means “to care for” or “to provide”) to Jesus and his followers “out of her resources.”

Mary is mentioned first when a group of women followers is listed in the canonical gospels, indicating her preeminence. She is considered by the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Eastern Orthodox Churches to be a Saint. Her feast day is July 22, commemorated by the Lutheran Church. The Orthodox Church also commemorates her on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers, which is the second Sunday after Easter. From 25 CE onward in Capernaum, Mary was part of Jesus’ inner circle. As Christ’s disciple, she was dedicated to learning his wisdom.

Mary Magdalene was the only female disciple of Jesus Christ that has a gospel named after her. The Gospel of Mary offers us a new perception of the immensity of Christianity, the figure of Jesus, and the attributes of Mary Magdalene. This gospel came to light in Cairo in 1896, some fifty years before the discovery in Nag Hammadi Library, Egypt, known as the Gnostic gospels. It is a fact that Mary Magdalene was healed of seven demons, and there could be another interpretation of the recorded seven demons rather than the celebrated one. Since ancient times, spiritual science has understood that human beings have seven energy centers located throughout the body. These “wheels of energy” are called chakras in Sanskrit[2].

 The understanding of chakras can be traced from the earliest teachings in India to the cultures of Babylon and Assyria, then to the culture of Egypt. From there, it entered the traditions of the Hebrews. There are references to the sevenfold structure of spiritual worlds in Hebrew scripture. They thought they claimed to have received the divine revelation absorbed during their captivities in Babylon and Egypt[3]. Today the awareness of the body’s seven energy centers is the focus of the spiritual science of many healers who work with chakras and the seven levels. [4


  •   [1] Mary Magdalene: A Biography by Bruce Chilton, 24
  • [2] Leloup, Jean-Yves, The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, xviii
  • [3] Over three hundred uses of the word seven in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament. Many speak about time or the number of offspring, and some speak in ways that could only be understood symbolically: such as the seven pillars of wisdom (Prov 9); the seven cleansings in the river Jordan (2 Kings 5); the seven circuits of the trumpets around the city of Jericho (Joshua 9), the seven eyes of God in the stone (a fantastic picture of the chakras in the human body, in Zechariah 3 and 4), and the many references in Daniel. The tradition of Kabbalah interprets all of these, including the references to time, as veiled references to deep secrets about human and divine energy.
  • [4] Barbara Brennan, a highly trained scientist who worked for NASA, has systematized the chakra system in her practical method of healing, Hands of Light (New York: Pleiades, 1987)

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