Documentary: “The Real Mary Magdalene”

The Real Mary Magdalene

Screenshot from The Real Mary Magdalene

 This morning I cam across a video posted on Facebook for part 5 of 5 of a National Geographic documentary called The Real Mary Magdalene. I was able to find the page where all five parts are available: 

The Real Mary Magdalene 

These videos were posted on the Facebook page for a group called Priory of Sion. (Not THE Priory of Sion, for all of you Holy Blood, Holy Grail fans out there…) I also noticed a few other videos posted there that I’ve not yet watched. 

The National Geographic documentary was a fairly typical post-Da Vinci Code exploration of Mary Magdalene, but it focused much more on extracting an understanding of her from Biblical and Gnostic accounts than from the more recent “bloodline” legends. Although the narration and re-enactments had a sensational feel to them, it was a pretty level presentation of what there is to know about Mary Magdalene from the earliest sources. 

The expert guests were: 

  • Professor Carolyn Osiek, Brite Divinity School 
  • Professor Jonathan L. Reed, University of La Verne 
  • Professor Marvin W. Meyer, Chapman University 
  • Professor Karen King, Harvard University 
  • Professor Marcus J. Borg, Oregon State University 
  • Professor Stephen Patterson, Eden Theological Seminary 
  • Professor Lawrence H. Schiffman,New York University 

I was disappointed that the last part of the documentary focused on the idea that Mary Magdalene’s identification as a prostitute was the result of a smear campaign by early church fathers. While I have no argument with the fact that church fathers used the reputation to their advantage in controlling women, I do not for a moment believe that they are the source of the legend. I also wish that a documentary like this would, for once, mention that Pope Gregory’s homily in the 6th century was likely an action taken to organize the deep confusion over the various Marys in the Gospels and the many competing perspectives that were currently circulating. Again, I don’t suggest that Gregory was a great guy who was doing Mary Magdalene any favors, but I also don’t agree with laying 1400 years of mistaken identity at his feet. 


About Lesa

When Lesa learned in 1997 that there was nothing in the Gospels that said Mary Magdalene was a prostitute, she hit the books and started a year later. Since then she has had the good fortune to have written a book, been featured in Newsweek, spoken on NPR and appear in a documentary with some of her favorite MM authors.

4 thoughts on “Documentary: “The Real Mary Magdalene”

  1. I agree about the Gregory treatment, there is no way, when you READ sermon 33, and not selectively as it is parsed out, you SEE he had NO animus toward women or MM. I am an honest feminist scholar. The facts must be right and in context.

  2. I don’t agree that Mary Magdalene is a prostitute. I am a research student, working on the topic on her, such as is early christian community is anti-feminist or is Mary Magdalene an prostitute in the eyes of Jesus? is there any documents that can help me ? thank you so much

  3. Hi all. I’ve been a student of Mary M. since January 2005 and am a most appreciative and attentive student.

    I love this wonderful woman of history so very much. Words just cannot express. Mostly, because she so gently and so naturally presents to me, the ‘Jesus’ as she experienced Him. Because of her shared personal experience – it is as though I was there myself 2000 years ago.

    I have included one of Mary’s transcripts below from the days just following the hoopla of Di Vinci Code movie in 2005. Notice, in the latter part of her transcript, how Mary makes it emphatically clear she was not married to Jesus nor had intimate relationship with him – other than her spiritual devotion.

    I welcome to hear from any of you and am glad to download to anyone requesting, my compiled lessons from Mary (no charge of coursef). There are approximately 160 transcripts (about 200 pages) from Mary personally. This is not a book promotion or website promotion (no book, no website :-)

    Mary’s lessons are posted and emailed to all and any requesting. There is no group-affiliation. The lessons are all in English. Her mission is to present the gospel to us today, as she was presented it from Jesus.

    Warmest regards,


    From June 13, 2005:

    Mary: Greetings, friends, it is wonderful to be here with you again. I am getting to know you each quite well. I am enjoying the diversity in personality. I am enjoying the fellowship. As Abraham mentioned, it is inspiring to see you make effort to live out the ministry. Your true joy seems to be coming from accepting your part of the whole – no more, no less. Of course, at times with such liberal spirituality you must use caution in your sharing. How wonderful it is to gather with one another and have practically no limits, most ideas are welcome. Yes, well done.

    I did love being a part of the Lord’s cause back in the day. I loved knowing that my sisters and brothers were at hand should I have needed them. In an evolutionary planet such at this, it is comforting to have individuals who truly understand you.

    It is helpful in day-to-day living knowing that two minds are better than one. Where two or more are gathered, there also is the Spirit of Truth. Also very important is the fact that ultimately you make your own decisions. Your free will reigns supreme.

    This is what makes our spiritual movement so awesome. We can be free thinkers. We can be diverse in nature and also part of the whole. It is true that I was limited in my day, having been born female. There was always a way to work around the limitations, once I had completely embraced the ministry of our Lord.

    If individuals feel bound in this day and age, then I say it is most definitely self imposed. You can feel ‘less than’ and you can walk with your head down; you can feel as though the world is against you and that God, our Father, ignores you … yes, you can make this your reality. You can allow man to impose his restrictions on you, but know that you definitely have the power to live a life of freedom.

    There are always various avenues one can take to fulfill goals and dreams. People are only limited if they allow it. Those that feel ‘less than’ will live a life that is short such marvelous abundance. Those that live as if they are more than others, then certainly is humility headed their way. It is simple human experience.

    Look at the history of the past one hundred years… yes, there has been progress. The races are treated with more equality. Women are in professions that before they would have never been allowed. The ideal of family is once again becoming a priority, even if a family is not so much biological as they are simply devoted to one another.

    Sure, we have difficulties, but for the most part they are minor and every individual has power to create a new and better way. I will stop there.

    As promised last week, I would take a few questions, but first I would desire to clear the air:

    There is no doubt that I loved the Master with my whole heart and soul. His kindness and fatherly affection He had shown me would never, not for anything, ever lead Him away from the Father’s plan for the Master’s life here on this world. To even ponder upon the idea that the Master would stray from the Father’s plan in favor of a romantic relationship is completely erroneous. I would never sabotage the Master’s plans for any amount of affection. I would have killed for Him, I would have died for Him, but I would have never, ever led Him away from Father’s will.
    If you have studied your Urantia Book, does it not give you a picture of a unified being in our Creator Son, who was wholly dedicated to the doing of the Father’s will? He was to become the Sovereign of a Universe. Would He be so weak as to give in to any animal temptations? Said Jesus many times over, “My Kingdom is not of this world. It is wholly spiritual. It transcends the animal. It transcends mind, time and space and any other limitations one could come up with.”
    All right, that question is answered. [Laughter.] Have you, my friends, any questions?

    CALVIN: Mary, welcome, welcome, to our group. Thank you so much for your lessons, your time, your love and help in this Correcting Time. Yes, that clears the air very much. I am sure people reading it will feel that air cleared too. A simple follow up to your words … Not with the Master, but as we all experience relationships ourselves, did you end up in a relationship in your life or did you live out your life without marriage or a relationship?

    MARY: I understand. I believe now that Father has His plans for each one of us. We are always in a state of becoming. I suppose I did the thing I most wanted and a relationship was not included in that. Every moment was filled with the Father’s presence through the people I served. I was fulfilled beyond measure. My other friends had that need for companionship or they had that fear of being alone—all perfectly acceptable. I had friends that served in the ministry by day and family by night. I had friends who had escaped terrible relationships and were well satisfied being free. I knew individuals who had that inner drive to have family, have companionship. It is all just human experience and one way or another in this life or the next, you will have a good understanding of it all. I thought at times it would be nice to go home to share my day’s happenings with someone, but they were simply passing thoughts. Had I desired a male companion, certainly could I have found one.

    I do suppose I had some fear of repeating history of choosing abusive partners. I think freedom was more important to me than the price of companionship. Is this helping?

    Calvin: Yes, thank you very much. It gives me a new perspective. I think there are many mortals that feel like I do, that there is some character flaw or failure if they do not have a successful relationship.

    Mary: Yes. Good question.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>