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About the Secrets Series

Secrets of Mary Magdalene

Continuing in the tradition of the blockbusting New York Times bestseller Secrets of the Code, the latest book from the “Secrets” team, Secrets of Mary Magdalene: The Unfolding Story of History’s Most Misunderstood Woman , brings together world class experts such as Elaine Pagels, Susan Haskins, Margaret Starbird, and more than 20 other experts—theologians, scholars of scriptures and ancient languages, historians, philosophers, archeologists, art historians, feminists, folklorists, pop culture experts, and others—to discuss and debate the life of the woman who may well have been Jesus’s partner in all things from the creation of Christianity to holy matrimony.

The one thing she was not, it seems, is the repentant former prostitute often described in Christian tradition. Secrets of Mary Magdalene shows how and why that erroneous reputation was associated with her, why the tradition of Mary Magdalene as harlot lasted 1400 years, and how she is emerging from that legacy today to become a new kind of spiritual and philosophical role model for 21st century women.

With the huge popularity of The Da Vinci Code novel and movie, many people are asking about that story’s startling allegations:

  • Was Jesus Christ married to Mary Magdalene?
  • Was Mary a prosperous Jewish woman from Magdala who fed and nurtured Jesus and his group of itinerant revolutionaries?
  • Did Mary and Jesus have a child or children?And did Mary escape in a small boat to France after the crucifixion?
  • Did Jesus want Mary to lead his movement after his death?
  • Was Mary’s rightful role as leader of the new Christian movement usurped by Peter?
  • Why was Mary Magdalene not known as a prostitute until the end of the sixth century AD, why did Pope Gregory conflate her character with that of a different Mary who was a repentant prostitute—and how did that case of identity theft end up lasting for 1400 years?
  • Was she in fact a prostitute but in the ancient mystery tradition of temple prostitutes—goddesses and priestesses who bestowed strength and power on male warriors and kings by having sacred sex with them?
  • Could Mary Magdalene have been a Black woman from Ethiopia? What explains the cult of the Black Madonna in Europe and the persistence of Mary Magdalene legends in France?
  • Is the “marriage” of Jesus and Mary a metaphor or archetype for sacred union between male and female?
  • Does she represent the Egyptian, Greek, and other pre-Christian traditions of the “sacred feminine”?
  • What is the meaning of her legendary red hair?
  • What new information has the world learned about Mary Magdalene since the discovery of the Gnostic gospels, with their references to Jesus kissing Mary frequently on the mouth and to Jesus confiding in Mary things he did not tell the other apostles?
  • How to interpret the Gnostic Gospel of Mary and other recently found ancient scriptures?
  • What is the relationship—in history, in myth, and in metaphor—between Mary Magdalene and the Virgin Mary?
  • Why is Mary Magdalene so prominent in the traditional gospel accounts—mentioned 12 times by name and present at all the most important moments of the death and resurrection of Jesus?
  • Was she at the Last Supper?
  • Is she the “Holy Grail”?
  • What new documents and evidence are scholars unearthing at this very moment that will change our perceptions of Mary Magdalene yet again?

Secrets of Mary Magdalene addresses all these issues and much more. From her depiction in paintings by Leonardo da Vinci to references to her in the films of Walt Disney and the music of Jimi Hendrix; from her role as a mythic archetype representing womanhood to new revelations about her historical character; from debate about her in the mainstream Catholic church to the invocation of her spirit in wicca and new age ceremonies, the Mary Magdalene story is a Rorschach test for our own modern beliefs about women, gender politics, sexuality, spirituality, the Bible, history, religion, faith, and cosmology.

All of the contributors to Secrets of Mary Magdalene are themselves well-known and highly respected authors. The contributors have authored or edited books that have sold more than five million copies in aggregate. Yet never before has such a wide range of fascinating ideas and new scholarship about Mary Magdalene been pulled together in one book that is so timely, popular and accessible. Secrets of Mary Magdalene will be marketed simultaneously with a companion documentary film of the same title that will be seen on television as well as sold direct-to-home on DVD. It will also be available in bookstores simultaneously with the DVD of the Da Vinci Code movie.

Mary Magdalene is, after all, the star of the Da Vinci Code – both book and movie.