St. Mary Magdalene

22 Jul

St. Mary MagdaleneToday the universal Church celebrates the feast of St. Mary Magdalene. This saint has been at the center of some controversy in recent years. For some solid biblical teaching on this beloved saint, click here.

I will be on vacation for the rest of the week. Look for new posts at this blog during the week of July 29th.

2 Responses to “St. Mary Magdalene”

  1. samzabotney July 22, 2013 at 10:01 pm #

    Dan Brown is a great yarn spinner but a lousy historian. Agreed.

    The Gnostic/non-canonical Gospels are not reliable witnesses. Agreed.

    So, other than wanting it both ways, where does that leave the credence that is given to the Protoevangelium of James from which many of the commonly held beliefs about Mary and of Jesus’ early life are taken?

  2. Leon Suprenant July 30, 2013 at 8:35 pm #

    Good question. Two points. First, there’s a big difference between not including a text in the canon of Scripture and rejecting it as a fraud. The “Protoevangelium of James” was probably written by a pious believer intending it as a devotional effort to answer questions about Mary’s life prior to the Annunciation. There are a number of documents from the time immediately after the apostolic age (e.g. Didache, Letter of Pope Clement to the Corinthians, Shepherd of Hermas, etc.) that are important historically/spiritually without being scriptural.

    Second, the Protoevangelium of James is not the sole basis for the Church’s teaching on the virginity of Mary and other such things. Catholic author Mark Shea offers an interesting analogy:

    The source of the doctrine [of Mary’s perpetual virginity] is the fact that Mary was perpetually a virgin and the whole Church remembered this fact, beginning with the apostles. The Protoevangelium of James reflects the existence of this tradition and incorporates it into a legend about Mary, but it does not originate the tradition. You might as well say that “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter” is the source of our belief that Abraham Lincoln existed and was President. No. “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter” is, like the Protoevangelium, a fictional tale which refers to a tradition which precedes it. One can distinguish between the fiction and the real traditions that fiction exploits to tell a story. That’s why the Church rejects the fictional book, but retains the real tradition about the Perpetual Virginity of Mary, just as we are not forced to conclude that, because “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter” is fictional, therefore Abe never existed and never was President.

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