Is Mary Magdalene the same person as Mary the Jewess?

If you want to be spiritual, ask uncomfortable questions,’ Goddess News, Spiritual Blog, Divine Feminine,

Dr Joanna Kujawa

Spiritual Detective

Is Mary Magdalene the same person as Mary the Jewess?

When I explored the possibility of a connection between Mary Magdalene and Egypt I did so as though on some wild adventure. Originally, as a scholar and student of the Gnostic Gospels related to Mary Magdalene, I had quietly assumed that Mary Magdalene’s life in Egypt was a figment of literary imagination, just as her status as a prostitute was.

Also, my earlier assumptions came from my past conviction that both Mary Magdalene and the Gnostics had their sources deep in early Christianity. My only problem at the time with the official sources of information was that Mary Magdalene had been misrepresented, just as her role as a prostitute had been fabricated – both with the intention of removing a wise and powerful feminine figure from the official version of the scriptures.

In the meantime, recent scholarship began to consider that the origins of the Gnostics might be much earlier and more complex than their connection with early Christianity and often lead back to Egypt.

Thus, as I began to explore some sources in my blog ‘In the Footsteps of Mary Magdalene: Alexandria’ (https://www.joannakujawa.com/in-the-footsteps-of-mary-magdalene-alexandria/ ), the possibility that there might be a connection between Egypt and Mary Magdalene became more real. The whole narrative of Mary Magdalene is so steeped in myth that sometimes it takes a genuine detective investigation to untangle the possible from the imaginary and from that which is simply historically untrue. Having said this, myth and imagination often carry hidden and repressed truths and require a sincere seeker (and spiritual detective) to consider them fully. And, although in ‘Mary Magdalene in Alexandria’ I write about discovering the genuine possibility that Mary Magdalene did live at some point in Egypt and I note that the right environment for her presence there did exist, I did not associate her with any women living in Egypt at the time.

So here I would like to disentangle and assess (as unromantic as that sounds) an additional possibility  for the presence of Mary Magdalene in Egypt – the possibility which I have not discussed in my blog on Mary Magdalene in Alexandria or in its video version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wb1SfMvff4E. They pertain to one historical figure, who could be associated with Mary Magdalene and her Egyptian connections.

Following the intuitive link between alchemy and Mary Magdalene, as well the Gnostic idea that Mary Magdalene was the most advanced and cherished disciple of Jesus/Yeshua, I began searching for examples of educated women, with a leaning towards mystery and the ineffable. And in my searching I stumbled upon Mary the Prophetess, or Mary the Jewess. As a name, ‘Mary the Jewess’ makes perfect sense to me, as I tend to believe that Mary Magdalene was Jewish. At that time, there was a large community of highly educated and Hellenised Jews in Alexandria, with the most prominent example being Philo of Alexandria. However, the second name by which she was known, Mary the Prophetess, emphasises her spiritual gifts – which also connects her to the Gnostic version of Mary Magdalene as the ‘learned one’.  

So who was Mary the Prophetess/Mary the Jewess?

Mary the Prophetess is quietly acknowledged as the Mother of Alchemy proper. ‘Quietly’ because, as history has been often written with complete disregard for women’s accomplishments, the focus has usually been on male alchemists and the fathers of Alchemy. Although, in the mythological sense the source of Alchemy comes from Hermes the Thrice Great (Trismegistus), its known human origins had their beginnings with the priests and priestesses of Ancient Egypt. One of the great alchemists was Zosimos of Panapolis (present-day Akhmim), who was, of course, Egyptian, and who died around 251 AD (all a bit later). It is Zosimos who mentions Mary the Prophetess as ‘one of the sages’ and places her as his predecessor.

Mary the Prophetess invented many alchemical instruments which were later used by all alchemists and described by Zosimos. In the National Library of Israel open sources it is also suggested that she was interested in the spiritual aspect of Alchemy, as ‘the creation of pure gold was considered a transmutation towards Heaven’ and thus also contained a spiritual aspiration. The goal of this process was ‘combining within Itself the powers of both the Above and the Below’, as is written in the Emerald Tablet attributed to Hermes Trismegistus. Interestingly, ‘As above so below’ is the key and most essential teaching not only of the Alchemists but also of many esoteric teachings around the world, including Hermeticism, and is encoded in the Christian Lord’s Prayer as ‘on earth as it is in heaven’. (Mystical truths are often hidden in plain sight.)

But back to Mary the Prophetess, about whose life little or almost nothing is known. Apart from the information sourced through Zosimus of Panapolis, the only additional information about her I found was (again) in the open sources of the National Library of Israel. They state that Mary the Prophetess did live in Alexandria and even opened an Academy there to teach Alchemy. This suggests that Mary the Jewess was financially independent.  Interestingly, recent scholarship on Mary Magdalene suggests that she, too was an independent woman with her own financial means.  Jane Schaberg in her book The Resurrection of Mary Magdalene, for example, argued that Mary Magdalene was never called someone’s daughter or wife as was then customary.  Candida Moss (a Professor of Theology at the University of Birmingham) also reached a similar conclusion that Mary Magdalene was a financially independent woman who helped to support Jesus’ movement along with another disciple – Joanna the wife of Chuza who was connected to the court of Herod Antipas (as mentioned in Luke 8). 

At this point I became really excited because this creates a beautiful possible connection between Mary the Prophetess and Mary Magdalene – as I argue in one earlier blog, Alexandria was the perfect place for Mary Magdalene to escape after the events of the Crucifixion.  

In my opinion, Mary the Prophetess’ connection with Mary Magdalene (if there is one) lies entirely in the dating of the former’s life. When did Mary the Prophetess live? For Zosimos, she was one of the ‘sages’ and he envied her in that, being Jewish she could openly teach and discuss Alchemy at that time while he, as an Egyptian, could not. This, he explains, was because Alchemy was an ancient lore guarded by the Egyptian priesthood. Since Zosimus lived in the third century and he talks about Mary the Prophetess as his predecessor, it is safe to assume that she lived in Alexandria during or prior to the third century. Again, I checked with the open sources in the National Library of Israel and there it is stated that Mary the Prophetess lived in the first century (although there is no explanation of how this is known).

So we are getting closer now – at least in terms of dating
their lives  – to the possibility that
Mary the Prophetess and Mary Magdalene could both be placed, historically,
around the first century. But does this make the case that they are one and the
same person?

Since we know almost nothing about the actual lives of either of these two magnificent women, it is difficult to say. But I would not reject this proposition as a possibility. Some strictly scholarly minded people may argue that any connection between them is tenuous. They would note that there is no document identifying Mary Magdalene as an alchemist, and in particular there is nothing identifying her as one historical female alchemist. To this I would answer that history is frequently manipulated and that often, either by purposeful omission or a lack of proper resources, untruths are created and documented as the truth. Nothing is greater proof of this than the very successful attempts at either falsifying the historical and spiritual records or removing the importance of Mary Magdalene from them altogether.

So, I ask, is it any wonder that we do not know anything about Mary Magdalene and that ‘other’ or ‘same’ historical figure, and that we know even less about the possible connection between the two of them as being one and the same person?

Let me make this clear:  I am not arguing that they are the same person but what I am saying is that there is a definite possibility that Mary Magdalene and Mary the Prophetess could be the same person.

Both lived at roughly the same time. There is a strong chance they both lived in Alexandria. Both were educated women with spiritual gifts (Mary the Prophetess, as her name suggests, also had spiritual gifts, apart from being an Alchemist) and Mary Magdalene was the most advanced disciple chosen by Jesus, according to some Gnostic sources such as the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, the Pistis Sophia and the Gospel of Philip. Both were financially independent women in charge of their lives.

To me, at least, this sounds much more possible than the official, completely fictional, version of Mary Magdalene as penitent prostitute.

I would love to hear from you on this.

A short video version of this blog is also available on my youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6Z3PS02P7E

Dr Joanna Kujawa

Goddess News

Spiritual Detective

©Joanna Kujawa

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17 Responses to Is Mary Magdalene the same person as Mary the Jewess?

  1. Linda McLeod says:

    After the events of the crucifixion it would have been prudent for Mary to have lived elsewhere, and considering the epiphanies of the Christ it certainly isn’t a stretch to imagine her continuing to pursue esoteric study. To me, Mary was gifted with such spiritual power that her purpose would have been best served by sharing her knowledge and encouraging the continued expansion of mankind’s quests of imagination. As always your blog encourages much thought on how many more of the facets of Mary we can discover. ❤

    • sundari says:

      Thank you Linda for your supporting comment. My thoughts exactly. She pretty much disappeared from the ‘official’ sources that is why I looked for the best place for her to go. Margaret Starbird, who believes that Mary Magdalene, moved to France eventually also admits that she stayed in Alexandria for a while. So, I believe, we have a definite possibility here.
      As always, much love and Thank you for your insight.
      Joanna
      Dr Joanna Kujawa
      Goddess News Blog

  2. Laura says:

    Dr. Kujawa,

    I enjoy your posts, thank you for regularly sharing your thoughts and research.

    I read your blog regularly but admittedly have not done in depth research regarding you/your work. Curious as to whether you have considered the concept that Jesus’ crucification and resurrection was an analogy vs an actual event. My intent is not to offend, I believe in questioning even the most foundational religious beliefs.

    Also curious if there is any research indicating the founders of Christianity (specifically Jesus and Mary Magdalene) believed in reincarnation. I’ve worked hard at scrutinizing the religious beliefs taught me me as a child in order to consciously form my adult spiritual beliefs. Reincarnation is now a foundation of my spiritual belief, but I am curious as to whether you encountered research supporting Jesus and MM’s belief in reincarnation.

    As my questions likely indicate, I believe much of the foundation/original teachings of Christianity have been either removed in their entirety or twisted to such an extreme that much of the intended meaning has been lost. Doesn’t mean I don’t think there are good aspects of Christianity, only that I believe much of the deeper meaning has been lost.

    I know these are huge topics, and if they were covered in earlier posts I apologize. I was just curious about your thoughts given your curious nature and desire to research for “lost knowledge”.

    Thank you again for sharing,

    • sundari says:

      Hi Laura,
      Thank you for your supportive comment and questions. I have the same questions in my mind about Christianity and many of my colleagues steeped in Gnosticism also seem to believe that the Crucifixion was a symbol of spiritual transfiguration. This is, indeed, an interesting possibility. I personally do not accept the official version of the last days of Jesus’ days as, like you, I think the message was manipulated either by design or by the ignorance of the times. The other explanations usually come from alternative researchers. Freddy Silva, for example, in one of his books refers to the ‘lost art of resurrection’ which was a spiritual event for initiates and symbolised the death of the old self and rebirth to the new (as a form of baptism, so to speak) and he claims that there are ancient temples around the world which he explored and which used to be dedicated to this symbolic event for an initiate. I, unexpectedly came across another explanation while researching on Christian Tantra (you can check the summary in my blog https://www.joannakujawa.com/asherah-kali-jesus-is-there-an-esoteric-link-between-tantra-and-christianity/ especially where I speak of Crucifixion based on a wonderful book by Reho).
      As for the reincarnation, it also is a part of my beliefs. Indeed, I would go as far as to say, that Christianity started to make (some) sense to me after a deep search through esoteric Hinduism and Gnosticism. I am yet to write a blog on this topic and I will. There are apparently references to transmigration of souls/reincarnation in the Gospel of Thomas and another Gnostic source The Secret Book of John which I plan to investigate further to write about it with more knowledge.
      Once again, thank you for your comment and questions. Your support is much appreciated,
      Much love,
      Joanna
      Dr Joanna Kujawa
      Goddess News

  3. David Miller says:

    I am writing to add weight to your comment in the second paragraph that scholarship has claimed that Gnosticism pre-dates Christianity.
    Prof. Hans Jonas, 1903-1993 (according to Prof. Elaine Pagels, Jonas was the doyen of Gnostic studies), in his 1958 book, “The Gnostic Religion”, devotes a whole chapter to, ‘The Poimandres of Hermes Trismegistus’.

    • sundari says:

      HI David,
      Thank you for your comment and the additional information which helps me with my investigations. This is very interesting. When I started studying Gnosticism and I believed what was then a common assumption that Gnosticism is closely related to early Christianity because it had its sources there. However, in recent years, more and more scholars see to refer back either to the Essenes (around 130BCE and 70 CE) or even earlier to the Egyptian mysteries – which leads to Prof Jonas’ connection to Hermes the Thrice Great and Corpus Hermeticum). So this is very good to know on the authority of his scholarship.
      Much appreciated and it is nice to hear from you again,
      Joanna
      Dr Joanna Kujawa
      Goddess News

  4. Pippa Richardson says:

    Very interesting piece, Joanna, and I agree that it could be a possibility that Mary Magdalene ( a comfortably-off woman who was one of the group of women who financially supported Jesus and the male disciples in their travelling) could easily have gone to Alexandria after the Crucifixion, and could indeed have been Mary the Prophetess. I have a far memory of having witnessed the torturing and death of Jesus, and in grief travelling to Egypt, where I became a hermit and seer in the Sinai Desert. I think many Christians dispersed to safer places after the death of Jesus. Also, many early Christians believed in reincarnation, and it was only in the 4th century that the new Church/State alliance ” aiming for the cultivated dependence of the masses, felt threatened by those who believed in rebirth because such Christians tended to be self-reliant, free-thinking individuals whose subservience could not be guaranteed. Neither to be induced by promises of heavenly bliss, nor intimidated by threats of hellfire, they were branded as heretics ( the word ;heretic’ means, at root, nothing more pernicious than one who is able to choose). Nevertheless, there was no official edict condemning the doctrine of reincarnation across the Roman empire until the year AD 553 when the Emperor Justinian issues formal ecclesiastical curses against the ‘monstrous restoration’ of rebirth.’ Quote from ‘Life Between Life’ by Dr Joel. L Whitton and Joe Fisher, page 91

    • sundari says:

      Thank you, Pippa, for your comment. Absolutely. Your personal recollection and the quote from Dr Joel. L Whitton and Joe Fisher’s book are spot on and in agreement with my research and beliefs. There definitely was a spontaneous movement after Jesus’ death which within two hundred years was repressed and the teachings ‘appropriated’ to suit the new state religion – there is a long line of emperors here from Constantine to Theodosius and even Justinian – which is historically documented. What was a spontaneous spiritual movement aimed at true understanding of our nature and our spiritual potential became repressed and controlled and twisted. Reincarnation was one of the teachings that were attacked. I intend to write a blog about it but I want to do a thorough study of primary sources such as some of the Gnostic documents before I publish it. And yes, more and more scholars, even in mainstream academia, are exploring the idea of Mary Magdalene as a woman of personal resources – I agree with that and wrote about it as well – it is a very positive change. So you are right here as well.
      Thank you for sharing your experience – I love when people do that. I find it interesting that so many people start to have recollections either in relation to early Christianity or to the experience of the Divine Feminine in one form or another – it is a big awakening. I have some of my own experiences/recollections which I have not shared at the Goddess News platform and which, one day, I may choose to share when writing on reincarnation.
      Once again, Thank you for your support and sharing your experience here.
      Much Love,
      Joanna
      Dr Joanna Kujawa
      Goddess News

  5. Yvonne Beveridge says:

    All of my life I have held the belief , that there were an equal number of disiples male and female. At the age of 14 I rejected the Church of England and have followed the Yogic path for the past 60 years, what Jesus taught was pure Yogic teachings . The story of Jesus has been told as His- story . Change the wording , change the context, was Jesus chosen by Mary Magdalene? It becomes her story . All of history has been told to us via a patriacal mindset. There have been many men in history who have claimed various achievements while the true source has been a woman quietly in the background. It is great that you are questioning !11 Yvonne

    • sundari says:

      Thank you, Yvonne, for your comment. I very much appreciate it. I think that your experience speaks to many others who, like you, feel that the great spiritual narratives were told from one perspective only either leaving women behind or, worse, as in the case of Mary Magdalene actually purposefully vilifying her. So even when a powerful feminine presence is mentioned she is immediately degraded and so is her contribution. It is an interesting argument made now for a long time that women were not allowed to tell their stories. I think it is changes now as so many people come forward with genuine experiences or memories of the past. That is why also scholarship in this area may be challenging as the ‘historical’ sources showed preference towards one side of the story so I think that we are here to question this and bring forth other possibilities and other stories forward.
      Once again, thank you for your comment and support,
      Joanna
      Dr Joanna Kujawa
      Goddess News

    • Sheila Peterson says:

      ❤💝❤

  6. John Noack says:

    John Noack: Linda McLeod mentions the “epiphanies of the Christ”. Since the early 1980s, biblical scholars have been examining the stories of the “Transfiguration of Jesus” on Mount Hermon, which is located north of Caesarea Philippi in northern Galilee. They have examined this Transfiguration or Transformation as part of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances, his ascension and his descent into the Under-world.

    Mt Hermon was widely associated within the Roman Empire with “Theophanies” or experiences obtained by the devotees of the various Solar Deities in their many solar cults. In these “theophanies, the sun’s solar disk was transformed for them into a personification and deification of their Solar Deities within their solar cults.

    Archeologists have recently found near Mount Hermon a religious shrine, on which has been carved a solar deity wearing a crown, which features the spreading rays of the sun. In the Bible, both Mark, in his chapter 9 and Matthew, in his chapter 17, depict these theophanies as the experienced Christophanies of the three Disciples Peter, James and John, which also occurred on Mount Hermon. Matthew leaves no doubt about the real nature of this event, because he relates in verse 2 that Jesus’ “face shone like the sun”. After Jesus “Resurrection”, Matthew, at the end of his chapter 28, even depicts Jesus as heading up to this mountain in Galilee, where, acting like the solar Lord of the Universe, he uttered his “Great Commission”, promised to be with his Disciples “to the end of time” and then presumably ascended up into heaven.

    Several years later, the Jewish Persecutor of the Christians named Saul, was also passing Mount Hermon on his way to Damascus. Suddenly, as depicted in Acts 9, 22 and 26, Saul experienced the blinding light of the mid-day sun, an event which he interpreted as his own personal “Christophany” and the appearance to him of the Cosmic Christ or Metaphysical Messiah, in the form of the “Lord of the Universe”. This led to both his conversion to Christianity and the changing of his name to “Saint Paul”. He then ended up establishing his Pauline “Gentile Christianity” and being an important impulse behind and contributor to both Catholicism and Protestantism.

    Laura raises the issue of “an analogy”, in relation to Jesus’ Resurrection. Biblical scholars have also noted that Jesus is often referred to as the “Morning Star” and as the “Light of the World”. From the Earth’s perspective, both the Sun and the Planet Venus together and as a constant pair, daily rise, ascend high into the sky, descend at night into the Underworld and then rise or resurrect again each morning at dawn. A common Early Christian ritual was to rise early and to greet the rising sun. On an annual basis, the Sun and Venus both move together between the two tropics and across the equator, thus forming the four seasons and the seasonal ceremonies and celebrations.

    On this basis, Mark tells us in 16:2 that the very loyal Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of James and Salome, went to the tomb of Jesus “very early in the morning on the first day of the week, just as the sun was rising”. Since the human Jewish Jesus had been crucified by the Romans for his support of freedom for the Jewish race, his body had been buried in a tomb and his body was already decaying.
    However, by “analogy”, the rising sun was now experienced and welcomed by Mary Magdalene and the other women as the super-natural, heavenly, exalted, personified and deified Cosmic Christ, who, like the sun, had risen and was resurrected early that morning and had later ascended up into the sky to a home up in heaven somewhere.

    This understanding relates to the view in the Christian Creeds that Jesus Christ was simultaneously fully human and fully divine. However, viewed as historically and astronomically consecutive events, Jesus was crucified as a Jewish Rabbi and Rebel, who was fully and 100% human like us. However, after his solar-related resurrection as the Crowned Cosmic Christ, the former human Jesus became accepted as the personified deification of the sun.

    Those Christian who have adopted the anagogical appropriation of the life of Jesus for their own Soul-Journeys are pleased that they can draw on the daily and annual cycles of the sun to enhance and to guide their own spiritual journeys.

    Perhaps one day the Christians will also conclude that religions rely on metaphorical conceptions and on analogies and will appreciate the way that their souls or psyches can relate to and enrich each other. It is good that your readers Linda and Laura, have been prepared to share their very important and profound insights with us all.

    • sundari says:

      Thank you, John, for your exquisite answer to Linda’s comment. I was to Mt Hermon which I described in my book, Jerusalem Dairy but was not aware of its pre-Christian history so Thank you for that. Very interesting. It also sits very nicely with my own intuition that both Mary Magdalene and Jesus can be seen as a particular expression of Consciousness as well as human embodiments of That Consciousness. As Jesus is both Yeshua and Christ Consciousness (Cosmic Consciousness) so is also Mary Magdalene (whoever she was a woman) she also was a particular for of embodiment of the Feminine expression of Cosmic Consciousness and that is why I connect her with the particular Lineage of goddesses as the same expression under different disguises throughout the times.
      Again, Than you for that and I have learned something. These interactions made my work and this blog worthwhile.
      Much love,
      Joanna,
      Dr Joanna Kujawa
      Goddess News blog

      • John Noack says:

        Dr Joanna Kujawa. Thank you for your response. I could add that Mary Magdalene may have understood the event of the rising of the sun in Mark 16:2 to be a Transfiguration experience, in which the deceased human Jesus became Mary’s personified and deified “Cosmic Christ”. This would be similar to Saint Paul’s Christophany near Mount Hatmon, when he was on his way to Damascus.

        If so, Mary Magdalene did not have to tell the unfaithful and timid male Disciples that Jesus was heading to Galilee and to Mount Hermon, as demanded in Mark 14:28 and 16:7. According to Mark 16:8, Mary Magdalene said nothing to anybody, because Mary appears to have known in the depths of her heart, that the soul of her dearly-beloved friend and perhaps her Lover, the fully human Jewish Jesus ( just like many other souls of important people in the first century), had ascended up into the sky as a star or in Jesus’ case, the Sun. Certainly the Romans accepted that Julius Caesar had his own post-mortem star in the sky.

        If this first Easter-morning “sun-rise” was Mary’s own religious Transfiguration Experience at Jesus’ tomb in Judea, then Mary Magdalene had her “Cosmic Christ” with her wherever and whenever the sun was visible to and was shedding its light and warmth onto Mary. This all makes a lot of sense to me and it is really very “biblical” but it is not the usual and traditional Christian understanding. Therefore, the question still arises: Is all of this historically factual or is it verging on fantasy? The Christian Fundamentalists as a matter of habit, would condemn it as pure fantasyWhat is your view?

        • sundari says:

          It is a very interesting explanation/possibility. I must admit that I keep all the doors open so to speak as to what actually happened. I think that an event of such spiritual magnitude perhaps does not have to be either or. As you probably know, apart from my Gnostic influences, my spiritual understanding has grown through my practice of esoteric Hinduism which allows for both possibilities – depending on what perspective we take. So, I do believe that Mary Magdalene had the access to Cosmic Christ (something that many of the male disciples did not and were jealous of – perhaps of their former religious beliefs mixed with politics). Also, in the Gospel of Mary Magdalene she actually says that the Teacher came to her (after the event of Crucifixion) in a vision. I, however, am also open to the possibility that she could have an actual experience of seeing Christ ascension (as his essence was transfiguring somewhere in between dimensions – if you are open to this. Modern physics seems to accept multidimensionality of the universe). Since she was spiritually advanced (as his favoured disciple and whoever she was she certainly had some access to esoteric knowledge), she could perceive him or even see him in that moment of transfiguration. I was also intrigued by the explanation give in the Urantia Book. As you know, I am not a Reader but was asked to read parts of it before my trip to Jerusalem and for Jerusalem Diary. There, it states that Jesus (thy call him Michael as a supernatural being) was moving between two states of reality and changing form his physical body to a more subtle expression of his essence. I have always considered it as one of the best explanations of the actual event. Even if I did not like the Book’s traditional and almost ‘orthodox’ description of women in Jesus’ circle.
          Much love,
          Joanna
          Dr Joanna Kujawa
          Goddess News blog

    • sundari says:

      Thank you, Sheila, for this link. Yes, the connection with Egypt is very strong on many levels. I have always been fascinated by Coptic churches and their history. And loved the Coptic churches I visited in Jerusalem.
      Much love,
      Joanna
      Dr Joanna Kujawa
      Goddess News blog

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