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Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Date Posted:

Da Vinci Code

Rome Reaps What She Has Sown

Dr Clive Gillis

THE CHURCH of Rome bears much of the responsibility for the present Mary Magdalene hysteria and it is worth reviewing the reasons in more detail than was possible in our first article.

Rome has declared Mary the mother of our Lord to have been immaculately conceived, preserved from sin in life, and assumed bodily into heaven, making her the perfect woman rather than a sinner saved by grace. As one Catholic girl quipped, “We grew up to believe she ran heaven”.

This fostered the idea that virginity was the highest state and that sexuality was somehow defiled. As a result ordinary Roman Catholic women can feel a sense of inferiority, even guilt, as they face the realities of their own burdensome lives lurching from pregnancy to pregnancy at the behest of demanding men. Many simply despair.

The Confessional

Priests traditionally fostered this consciousness of defilement in the confessional with their explicitly detailed pornographic manuals for confessors, such as that of Alfonso Maria di Liguori. Here the dubious sections traditionally remain un‑translated from the Latin as being too shameful. Indeed these manuals have often alerted innocent young women to vile practices which they would not otherwise have encountered.

As a result the Roman Catholic Church urgently needed a human, as opposed to a super human, role model to set before its women. And what better than a really depraved woman, a brazen hussy, indeed a hardened, devil possessed harlot who wonderfully repented and totally reformed herself under the ministrations of the Lord Jesus. Such an apparently attainable ideal might offer real hope to ordinary Catholic womanhood.

But there is no such character to be found in the Gospel stories. Undaunted, the popes and theologians of Rome set about inventing one. And so the myth of Mary Magdalene, the saved harlot, was born.

How it was done

The popes were key players in the “harlotization” of Mary Magdalene, though the process began amongst the Latin Church Fathers. Pope Gregory I gave his seal of approval in AD 591 when he took all the hints from the Latin fathers and plainly stated the matter.

The eastern churches, on the other hand, had carefully teased out three Mary’s from Scripture. They took pains to distinguish the “sinner” of Luke 7:37‑50 from both Mary the sister of Martha (Luke 10:38‑42 and John 11) and Mary Magdalene of Luke 8:2.

But Pope Gregory, in the west, insisted that, “She whom Luke calls the sinful woman, whom John calls Mary (of Bethany), we believe to be the Mary from whom seven devils were ejected according to Mark”. (Mark 16:9)

The myth grows

There is nothing in Scripture to indicate that Mary Magdalene was a harlot. Rome created that myth by asserting that the seven devils from which Mary was delivered were unclean spirits who drove Mary to depravity.

Mary Magdalene and the woman who was a sinner are clearly differentiated in Scrip­ture. In Luke 7:50, which is the final verse of the chapter and the end of the story, we read, “And he [Jesus] said to the woman [“the sinner”], Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace”.

The next chapter, chapter 8, commences, “And it came to pass afterward, that he [Jesus] went through every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God”. Only then is Mary Magdalene introduced ministering to him of her substance.

Dublin’s Magdalene laundries

So for Rome “the sinner” of Luke 7 is Mary Magdalene. The woman’s sins de­scribed as “many” become Mary Magdalene’s sins. Then, solely by prurient innuendo, her sins become sexual sins associated with her demonic possession.

The clincher for Rome is that a “Mary” is found in John’s narrative anointing Jesus feet (John 12:3). But it is noteworthy that this Mary who anointed Christ is in the company of humble Martha and Lazarus and not, as Mary Magdalene, with Joannna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and other high class women. Nevertheless Rome insists that this is Mary Magdalene.

Yet Mary Magdalene’s circle were wealthy enough to minister to Jesus of their substance. For them, outlay on anointing perfume would hardly amount to an act so selfless that Jesus declared it to be the woman’s memorial (Mark 14:9).

The passing centuries and renaissance art, often commissioned by the popes themselves, have done the rest to establish the Magdalene myth.

The recent scandal in Dublin following the finding of 133 unmarked graves in a Romanist convent, which had been one of the Magdalene Laundries where orphans perceived as the outcome of sexual sin were forced to work in inhuman conditions to redeem themselves, is just one tiny illustration of the terrible fruit of this notion of Mary Magdalene the redeemed harlot in the Romanist psyche.

The Nag Hammadi Library

But this view of Mary Magdalene was challenged soon after World War II with the discovery in December 1945 of the Nag Hammadi library near the village of that name three hundred miles south of Cairo. Seven Bedouin were engaged in extracting fertiliser rich in nitrates in the Egyptian Nile valley when they stumbled upon “a large earthenware jar, about two feet high with a bowl over the top sealed with bitumen”. The jar contained not scrolls but thirteen codices in leather pouches resembling books. The colourful events surrounding the discovery included several murders before the works came to reside peacefully in the Coptic museum in Cairo.

The Gospel of Philip

The Nag Hammadi library contained a mixture of Christian and philosophical writings including the Gospel of Philip. This apocryphal Gospel contains the notorious text, “And the companion of the [...] Mary Magdalene. [...] loved her more than all the disciples, and used to kiss her often on her [...]”  The gaps in the text are holes made by white ants.

The Da Vinci Code, which is only a novel, contends that “any Aramaic scholar will tell you, the word companion, in those days, literally meant spouse”. But the document is not Aramaic but Coptic. Coptic scholars say “companion” means simply “companion”. Any interested reader can follow all the half truths and assumptions from the Da Vinci Code back to their dubious source in R McL Wilson’s The Gospel of Philip published in 1962.

The Nag Hammadi so‑called Gospels are poison from the fevered imagination of Gnostic heretics who created a fleshly line of descendants of Jesus Christ and his alleged wife, Mary Magdalene.

The Nag Hammadi find changed Mary Magdalene from a broken prostitute into a grand aristocratic priestess and wife of Christ and bearer of his priestly offspring, which fact Rome was supposed to be trying to cover up. (Conspiracy theorists lean heavily on the idea of secret sinister Vatican cover ups.)

Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln’s book Holy Blood Holy Grail setting forth this new theory suited the feminist movement at that time when women were deserting the confessional in droves. The traditional ethos of Mary Magdalene the redeemed whore was discard in favour of this even less likely idea that she was a priestess, and Christ’s wife, and mother of His children.

The Sermon of Gregory the Great

Homily 33 is recorded in Homiliarian in evangelia, Lib. 11, Patrologia Latina, vol. 76 (Puris: J.-P Migne, 1844‑1864), cols. 1238‑1246.

“We believe that this woman [Mary Magdalen] is Luke’s female sinner, the woman John calls Mary, and that Mary from whom Mark says seven demons were cast out.” (“Hanc vero quam Lucas peccatricem mulierem, Joannes Mariam nominal, illam else Marian credimus de qua Marcus septem damonia ejecta fuisse testator”)

The seven demons Gregory identified as “all the vices” (“Et quid per septem daemonia, nisi universa vitia designantur?”) by which he means the seven so‑called cardinal sins (including lust, which was understood as inordinate or illicit sexual desire). The seven cardinal sins: were first grouped as such by Gregory. The passages mentioning Christ’s casting out of the seven devils from Mary Magdalene are in Luke 8, 13, and Mark 16, 9.

Gregory then complained that the ointment used by Luke’s unnamed sinner, now Mary Magdalen, to anoint Christ’s feet had previously been used by her “to perfume her flesh in forbidden acts.” (“Liquet...quod ilicitus actibus prius mulier intenta unguentum sibi pro odore suae carnis adhibuit”)

It was Gregory who also associated her, again primarily through identification with Luke’s unnamed sinner, as a penitent when he explained that by immolating herself at the feet of Jesus, “she turned the mass of her crimes to virtues, in order to serve God entirely in penance.” (“Convertit ad virtutum numerum criminum, ut totum serviret Deo in poenitentia”)

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