July 22 is the “Feast Day” for Mary Magdalene, so I thought it would be fitting to post various texts from different traditions. Those into “Gnosticism” like to champion Mary as a leader of the movement, but we really have no idea if the historical Mary Magdalene was actually of this mindset. However, gnostic groups did highly venerate her as she does appear in such texts like “The Gospel of Mary”, “The Gospel of Philip”, “Pistis Sophia”, “The Dialogue of the Savior”, “The First Apocalypse of James”, “The Sophia of Jesus Christ”, etc.. etc…
So light a candle, burn some incense and say a prayer to Mary and do some reading!
Gnostic Source: The Gospel of Mary Chapter 8 (part of Mary's teaching to the other disciples) 10) And desire said, I did not see you descending, but now I see you ascending. Why do you lie since you belong to me? 11) The soul answered and said, I saw you. You did not see me nor recognize me. I served you as a garment and you did not know me. 12) When it said this, it (the soul) went away rejoicing greatly. 13) Again it came to the third power, which is called ignorance. 14) The power questioned the soul, saying, Where are you going? In wickedness are you bound. But you are bound; do not judge! 15) And the soul said, Why do you judge me, although I have not judged? 16) I was bound, though I have not bound. 17) I was not recognized. But I have recognized that the All is being dissolved, both the earthly things and the heavenly. 18) When the soul had overcome the third power, it went upwards and saw the fourth power, which took seven forms. 19) The first form is darkness, the second desire, the third ignorance, the fourth is the excitement of death, the fifth is the kingdom of the flesh, the sixth is the foolish wisdom of flesh, the seventh is the wrathful wisdom. These are the seven powers of wrath. 20) They asked the soul, Whence do you come slayer of men, or where are you going, conqueror of space? 21) The soul answered and said, What binds me has been slain, and what turns me about has been overcome, 22) and my desire has been ended, and ignorance has died. 23) In a aeon I was released from a world, and in a Type from a type, and from the fetter of oblivion which is transient. 24) From this time on will I attain to the rest of the time, of the season, of the aeon, in silence.
The Pistis Sophia has a LOT of Mary Magdalene quotes in it. It is perhaps the largest source of Mary information out there. If you have not read it, I highly recommend it. The following exchange in the PS is between Salome and Mary, in which Mary removes doubt from Salome:
Gnostic Source: Pistis Sophia - Chapter 132 And when the Saviour had said this, Salome started forward and said: "My Lord, if our parents are the rulers, how standeth it written in the Law of Moses: 'He who shall abandon his father and his mother, let him die the death'? Hath not thus the Law made statement thereon?" And when Salome had said this, the light-power in Mary Magdalene bubbled up in her and she said to the Saviour: "My Lord, give commandment unto me that I discourse with my sister Salome to tell her the solution of the word which she hath spoken." It came to pass then, when the Saviour had heard Mary say these words, that he called her most exceedingly blessed. The Saviour answered and said unto Mary: "I give commandment unto thee, Mary, that thou speak the solution of the word which Salome hath spoken." And when the Saviour had said this, Mary started forward to Salome, embraced her and said unto her: "My sister Salome, concerning the word which thou hast spoken: It standeth written in the Law of Moses: 'He who shall abandon his father and his mother, let him die the death,'--now, therefore, my sister Salome, the Law hath not said this concerning the soul nor concerning the body nor concerning the counterfeiting spirit, for all these are sons of the rulers and are out of them. But the Law hath said this concerning the power which hath came forth out of the Saviour, and which is the light-man within us to-day. The Law hath moreover said: Every one who shall remain without the Saviour and all his mysteries, his parents, will not only die the death but go to ruin in destruction." When then Mary had said this, Salome started forward to Mary and embraced her anew. Salome said: "The Saviour hath power to make me understanding like thyself." It came to pass, when the Saviour had heard the words of Mary, that he called her most exceedingly blessed. The Saviour answered and said unto Mary in the midst of his disciples: "Hearken, therefore, Mary, who it is who compelled the man until he sinned.”
The next reading is from a Manichaean Psalm book, particularly the Psalms of Heracleides that details and expands the encounter between Mary and the resurrected Jesus.
Manichaean Source: Manichaean Psalm Book / Psalms of Heracleides Stem the tears of thy eyes and know me that I am thy master. Only touch me not, for I have not seen the face of my Father. Thy God was not stolen away, according to the thoughts of thy littleness: thy God did not die, rather he mastered death. I am not the gardener: I have given, I have received the….., appeared (?) not to thee, until I saw thy tears and thy 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. 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, ‘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 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 Olivers: “I have something to say, I have none to whom to say it.” "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 will not give rest to my feet until I have brought the sheep to the fold." Glory to Mariamme, because she hearkened to her master, she served his commandment in the joy of her whole heart. Glory and victory to the soul of the blessed Mary.
To end with Gnostic sources (I could go on for days), here is a short quote from the Dialogue of the Savior which really nails it on the head with Mary (the last part of the quote):
Gnostic Source: The Dialogue of the Savior Mary said, "Thus with respect to 'the wickedness of each day,' and 'the laborer is worthy of his food,' and 'the disciple resembles his teacher.'" She uttered this as a woman who had understood completely.
Up next is a phrase that I just found here recently. It is from a third century writing titled The Didascalia Apostolorum which has a section in it where the disciples are at the last supper and each giving a lesson/ talk about various topics. In this, Martha makes mention that Mary is laughing, but Mary points out what exactly she is laughing. I thought it’s pretty interesting:
Third Century Source: The Didascalia Apostolorum Martha said about Mary, I saw her laughing between her teeth joyfully. Mary said, I did not surely laugh, but I remember the words of our Lord, and I rejoiced, for ye know that He said to us before, when He was teaching, He that is weak shall be saved by the means of the strong.
Next up is from the Eastern Orthodox tradition and is pulled from an Akathist Hymn to Saint Mary Magdalene. This particular section relates to the popular scene in Eastern Orthodoxy that portrays Mary holding the red egg.
Eastern Orthodox Source: Akathist Hymn: Saint Mary Magdalene, Equal of the Apostles Kontakion Xl & Ikos XI Kontakion Xl There are no words which suffice fittingly to hymn the divine joy of Thy resurrection, O Christ, which, with the other women, the glorious Mary announced to the apostles on this appointed and holy day, the feast of feasts and solemnity of solemnities. Wherefore, bowing down before the magnitude of the ineffable compassions which Thou hast bestowed upon us, O Christ our King, with humility and love we cry out to Thee: Alleluia! Ikos XI Thou wast shown to be a radiant star shedding thy light upon our sinful world, O Mary Magdalene, when, after the glorious ascension of the Savior, thou didst go about the cities and villages, proclaiming the word of the Gospel everywhere and laying the easy yoke of Christ upon many. And when thou didst reach ancient Rome, thou didst stand manfully before Caesar Tiberius and didst explain to him, by means of a red-dyed egg and thy wise words, the life-bearing power of Christ. And thou didst also denounce the wicked Pilate and the ungodly high priest, that they might receive a recompense worthy of their iniquitous deeds. And marveling at this great feat of thine apostolate, with joy we cry out to thee thus: Rejoice, glorious herald of the teaching of Christ; Rejoice, radiant dispeller of the darkness of paganism! Rejoice, thou who didst release many men from the bonds of sin; Rejoice, thou who hast taught the wisdom of Christ unto all! Rejoice, thou who hast brought many people out of the darkness of ignorance into the wondrous light of Christ; Rejoice, thou who hast provided us with a model for standing steadfastly for the righteousness of Christ! Rejoice, thou who loved the salvation of sinners' souls more than thine own life; Rejoice, thou who understood well the commandments of Christ! Rejoice, thou who followed them faithfully; rejoice, thou who boldly denounced the darkness of the heathen! Rejoice, thou who didst not fear the wrath of Caesar; Rejoice, thou who showed him the malice and designs of the enemies of Christ! Rejoice, O holy Mary Magdalene, equal of the apostles, who loved the sweetest Lord Jesus more than all good things!
The next section is from the Roman Catholic “The Golden Legend of Mary Magdalene”, a story I did a modern translation of. This particular section relates to when Mary was a hermit and would receive daily visits from angels who provided for her.
Roman Catholic source: The Golden Legend of Mary Magdalene And then the good pilgrim received his wife and child, and went to the ship. Soon after, they came to the port of Marseille and found the blessed Mary Magdalene preaching with her disciples. They kneeled down to her feet and recounted to her all what had happened to them, and then received baptism of Saint Maximin. They then destroyed all the temples of the idols in the city of Marseille, and made churches of Jesus Christ. And with one accord, they chose the blessed Saint Lazarus to be bishop of that city. Afterward, they came to the city of Aix, and by great miracles and preaching, they brought the people there to the faith of Jesus Christ. There, Saint Maximin was ordained to be bishop. In the meanwhile, the blessed Mary Magdalene, desirous of sovereign contemplation, sought a right sharp desert and took place there which was ordained by an angel of God, and to abode there for thirty years without knowledge of anyone. In this place, she had no comfort of running water, no solace of trees and no herbs. That was because our Redeemer had ordained for her to not partake of bodily meats but rather that of a celestial nature. Everyday at each canonical hour, she was lifted up in the air of angels, and heard the glorious song of the heavenly companies with her bodily ears. She was fed and filled with right sweet meats, and then was brought again by the angels to her proper place, in which she had no need of bodily nourishing.
And for one more tidbit, this comes from the Speculum Sacerdotale, yet another Roman Catholic tale I translated for this site earlier. Like the Golden Legend, it speaks of various post-resurrection tales involving Mary. This section is about one of her devotees who has an encounter with her:
Roman Catholic Source: Speculum Sacerdotale Also there was a clerk of Flaundres who fell into a stream of multiple crimes, and he was in such vices that he would neither do good nor hear of it. Nevertheless he had great devotion to Mary Magdalene. He worshiped her on her feast and fasted for her devoutly. So in time, he had visited her sepulchre. As he lay in his devotion, he had fallen into a half awake, half sleeping state, Mary Magdalene appeared to him. She appeared as a celestial body, appearing in between two angels. She said to him “Answer me now. Why does thou act so wickedly against the prayers and merits that I make for thee? I make for thee great instance and speak to my Lord, that thou should not perish, and thou will not amend, for I have prayed for thee to God, for the great devotion that thou has had for me. Therefore, rise and amend it, and I shall never leave thee until thou be reconciled to God.” And at that moment, this clerk felt the grace of God and Mary Magdalene, that he forsake the world and entered into religion and was of an exceptionally perfect life. At the time of his death, Mary Magdalene was seen standing with angels beside his bed. She took up his soul, like a white dove, to heaven.
I hope you enjoyed all these tidbits! I’ll do more compilations like this in the future.