Readers at first might think “Oh no, another book about Mary Magdalene being the wife of Jesus.” Bruce Chilton’s biography is not that, but traditional Christians may not be too happy with it, either.
St. Mary Magdalene, named “Apostle to the Apostles” by Christians in the East and the West, was sent by the resurrected Christ whom she saw at the empty tomb to inform his apostles and disciples that he had truly risen as he said he would. Chilton points out instances of Mary Magdalene’s influence on the writing of the Gospels.
Mary Magdalene held a high place in the Church for years until the Middle Ages, when many had difficulties with a woman holding such an honored position. Chilton discusses this episode in this singular woman’s history, showing how such opinions came about and persist even to this day.
Our understading of Mary Magdalene has run into difficulties over the years. Chilton talks about the life of Mary after the resurrection of Jesus, addressing the confusion that has arisen with the various Marys and other women in the Gospels: Mary, the mother of Jesus; Mary, the sister of Lazarus; Martha, the penitent woman who bathed Jesus’ feet with oil and dried them with her hair; and the woman caught in adultery. Chilton composes a portrait of Mary Magdalene as a mystic who might have influenced Jesus’ teaching.
Bruce Chilton is a renowned biblical scholar and Episcopalian priest who has co-authored the forthcoming In Quest of the Historical Pharisees (May 2007), and Altruism in World Religions (2005), authored Rabbi Paul: An Intellectual Biography (2005), co-authored The Missions of James, Peter, and Paul (2004) and Classical Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism (2004), co-authored Revelation (2003) and The Missing Jesus (2003), and authored Redeeming Time (2002) and Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography (2002) as well as authoring and co-authoring many other books and articles in biblical studies. Those interested in studies on Mary Magdalene will appreciate this book, but traditional or conservative Christians may have problems with it.