Portrayals of Mary Magdalene (02:13)
The widely different characterizations of Mary Magdalene surprised Melvyn Bragg while writing the screenplay for "Jesus Christ Superstar." Bragg searches for the real Mary among religious texts and pop culture depictions.
Mary at the First Easter (07:10)
Mary was possibly the one to find Jesus' empty tomb and the first to see him after the resurrection. Bragg examines accounts in The Bible to piece together Mary's role. She is the only character to appear at all important events and locations.
Mary the Traveler (04:09)
Mary appears briefly in the Gospel of Luke as one of the women who traveled with Jesus through Galilee. Luke wrote that Jesus cast seven demons out of Mary, but does not identify the type of demons.
Mary of Magdala (03:02)
Theories speculate that Mary Magdalene got her name from the first-century town of Magdala by the Sea of Galilee. Other believes Jesus nicknamed her Mary the tower woman.
Mary the Disciple (08:46)
The Bible does not touch on Mary’s role among the disciples, unlike the Gnostic gospels. Mary was a leader among the disciples and struggled with Peter for control after Jesus’ departure. The tension reflects the differing views of Gnostics and mainstream early Christians.
Mary, Jesus' Lover (05:55)
The Gnostic Gospel of Phillip labels Mary as Jesus' companion and talks about a physical relationship. Jesus has been described as celibate and stressed that his ministry was male dominated. The unification of Christianity under Constantine caused alternative views, especially on Mary's role, to die out.
Mary the Prostitute (06:57)
The mainstream church worked to cast Mary in a different light in the New Testament. Mary became the sinful woman who washes Jesus' feet in the Gospel of Luke. Her actions and dress label her as a prostitute and she became an example of repentance.
Mary the Pennant Sinner (04:56)
Salvation from sin was a major focus for Christians in the Middle Ages. The Virgin Mary was an unattainable level of holiness. Christians related more to Mary Magdalene and her popularity grew; people began filling in the gaps in her story for themselves.
Mary in the Renaissance (04:45)
The Church's influence over art began to decrease in the 15th century, so deceptions of Mary increased. She was a frequent subject of paintings, which had widely different views about her role in Jesus' life and ministry.
Mary in "The Last Temptation of Christ" (02:32)
"The Last Temptation of Christ" includes an intimate relationship between Jesus and Mary. The 1980 film drew controversy for humanizing Jesus and showing him giving into temptation.
Mary in "Jesus Christ Superstar" (03:36)
The 1970s rock musical "Jesus Christ Superstar" plays up the intimate relationship between Mary and Jesus. Tim Rice wanted to tell an old story in a new way and make Mary a relatable modern woman.
Mary in Modern Media (04:25)
The myth of Mary Magdalene has continued in popular media and moved further away from her as a religious figure. In "The Da Vinci Code", Mary had a child with Jesus.
Credits: The Mystery of Mary Magdalene (00:34)
Credits: The Mystery of Mary Magdalene
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