The article engages with the protagonist of The Secret Gospel of Mary Magdalene by Michèle Roberts, first published in 1984 as The Wild Girl. Filipczak discusses scholarly publications that analyze the role of Mary Magdalene, and redeem her from the sexist bias which reduced her to a repentant whore despite the lack of evidence for this in the Gospels. The very same analyses demonstrate that the role of Mary Magdalene as Christ’s first apostle silenced by patriarchal tradition was unique. While Roberts draws on the composite character of Mary Magdalene embedded in the traditional association between women, sexuality and sin, she also moves far beyond this, by reclaiming the female imaginary as an important part of human connection to the divine. At the same time, Roberts recovers the conjunction between sexuality and spirituality by framing the relationship of Christ and Mary Magdalene with The Song of Songs, which provides the abject saint from Catholic tradition with an entirely different legacy of autonomy and expression of female desire, be it sexual, maternal or spiritual. The intertext connected with The Song of Songs runs consistently through The Secret Gospel of Mary Magdalene. This, in turn, sensitizes the readers to the traces of the Song in the Gospels, which never quote from it, but they rely heavily on the association between Christ and the Bridegroom, while John 20 shows the encounter between the risen Christ and Mary Magdalene in the garden whose imagery is strongly suggestive of the nuptial meeting in The Song of Songs.
Michèle Roberts, The Secret Gospel of Mary Magdalene, The Song of Songs
Arts and Humanities | Social and Behavioral Sciences
Anderson, Pamela Sue. “Tracing Sexual Difference: Beyond the Aporia of the Other.” Sophia International. The Journal for Philosophical Theology, Cross-cultural Philosophy of Religion and Ethics 38.1 (1999): 54–73. Print.
Bal, Mieke. “Sexuality, Sin and Sorrow: The Emergence of the Female Character (A Reading of Genesis 1–3).” Poetics Today 6.1/2 (1985): 21–42. Print.
Bourgeault, Cynthia. The Meaning of Mary Magdalene: Discovering the Woman at the Heart of Christianity. Boulder: Shambhala, 2010. Print.
Deutscher, Penelope. A Politics of Impossible Difference: The Later Work of Luce Irigaray. New York: Cornell UP, 2002. Print.
Exum, Cheryl. Song of Songs: A Commentary. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2005. Print.
Falcus, Sarah. Michèle Roberts: Myths, Mothers and Memories. Berlin: Lang, 2007. Print.
Fisk, Anna. Sex, Sin, and Our Selves: Encounters in Feminist Theology and Contemporary Women’s Literature. Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2014. Print.
Fisk, Anna. “Stood Weeping Outside the Tomb: Dis(re)membering Mary Magdalene.” The Bible and Feminism: Remapping the Field. Ed. Yvonne Sherwood and Anna Fisk. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2017. 150–69. Print.
Hamori, Esther J. Women’s Divination in Biblical Literature: Prophecy, Necromancy, and Other Arts of Knowledge. New Haven: Yale UP, 2015. Print.
Haskins, Susan. Mary Magdalene: Myth and Metaphor. New York: Random, 2011. Print.
Holy Bible: King James Version. New York: American Bible Society, 1980. Print.
Howell Jolly, Penny. Picturing the “Pregnant” Magdalene in Northern Art, 1430–1550: Addressing and Undressing the Sinner-Saint. Farnham: Ashgate, 2014. Print.
Karkkainen, Veli-Matti. An Introduction to the Theology of Religions: Biblical, Historical & Contemporary Perspectives. Madison: InterVarsity, 2003. Print.
Landy, Francis. Paradoxes of Paradise: Identity and Difference in the Songs of Songs. Sheffield: Almond, 1983. Print.
Lofenfeld Winkler, Lea, and Ramit Frenkel. The Boat and the Sea of Galilee. Jerusalem: Gefen, 2010. Print.
Maisch, Ingrid. Mary Magdalene: The Image of a Woman Through the Centuries. Trans. Linda M. Maloney. Collegeville: Liturgical, 1998. Print.
Mączyńska, Magdalena. The Gospel According to the Novelist: Religious Scripture and Contemporary Fiction. London: Bloomsbury, 2015. Print.
McGovern, John. “The Waters of Death.” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 21.3 (1959): 350–58. Print.
Pagels, Elaine. Ewangelie gnostyckie [The Gnostic Gospels]. Trans. Iwona Szuwalska. Wrocław: Purana, 2007. Print.
Pope, Marvin H. The Song of Songs: The Anchor Bible. New York: Anchor Bible, 1977. Print.
Roberts, Michèle. The Secret Gospel of Mary Magdalene. New York: Pegasus, 2007. Print.
Rowland, Susan. “Michèle Roberts’ Virgins: Contesting Gender in Fictions, Rewriting Jungian Theory and Christian Myth.” Journal of Gender Studies 8.1 (1999): 35–42. Print.
Schaberg, Jane. The Resurrection of Mary Magdalene: Legends, Apocrypha, and the Christian Testament. New York: Bloomsbury, 2004. Print.
Starbird, Margaret. The Woman with the Alabaster Jar: Mary Magdalen and the Holy Grail. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993. Print.
Stievermann, Jan. Prophecy, Piety, and the Problem of Historicity: Interpreting the Hebrew Scriptures in Cotton Mather’s “Biblia Americana.” Heidelberg: Mohr Siebeck, 2016. Print.
Synowiec, Jan. Na początku. Wybrane zagadnienia Pięcioksięgu. Warszawa: ATK, 1987. Print.
Thompson, Mary R. Mary of Magdala: What “The Da Vinci Code” Misses. Mahwah: Paulist, 2006. Print.
Wight, Fred H. Obyczaje krajów biblijnych [Manners and Customs of Bible Lands]. Trans. Robert Piotrowski. Warszawa: Vocatio, 2001. Print.