Image courtesy of National Gallery ©
THE GOSPEL OF MARY MAGDALENE
A new translation by David Curtis, second draft
To download a free PDF of the full text with footnotes click here
Published under a creative commons licence for free non-commercial sharing
(Pages 1-6 are missing)
The disciples asked "Teach us about the material world. Will it last forever, or is everything impermanent?"
The Saviour answered: “All that is created, everything that is formed, every natural thing, all exist interdependently in and with each other. Then each will be dissolved again back into its own roots. It is the way of nature that everything will eventually decompose back into its own elements. Those who have ears, let them hear.”
Peter said to him: “While you are explaining everything to us, tell us one more thing: What is the sin of the world?”
The Saviour answered: “There is no such thing as sin, you only make it appear when you act according to the habits of your adulterated nature: that is how what you call 'sin' manifests.This is why the Good has come into your midst, pursuing the good which is in everyone, to restore it inward to its root.” Then he continued, saying: “This is what sickens and destroys you: it is your love for the things that deceive you. Those who have ears, let them hear. Whoever can understand, let them understand!
“Attachment to matter gives rise to incomparable suffering, because it goes against your true nature. Then the whole body becomes disturbed. This is why I taught you to find contentment at the level of the heart. When you feel disturbed and out of balance, you can find that contentment again through revelations of your true nature. Those who have ears, let them hear.”
When the Blessed One had said these things, he embraced them all and took his leave, saying:
“Peace be with you! Cultivate my peace within yourselves!
Be vigilant, and don't let anyone lead you astray by saying 'Here it is' or 'There it is', for the Son of Man, the Child of True Humanity, lives within each one of you. This is what you should follow! I tell you, those who look for this within will surely find it.
Go then and proclaim the gospel of the New Realm!”
“Do not lay down any rules other than what I have given you.
Do not establish more laws like the lawmaker, or else you too will become constrained by them.”
When he had said these things, he departed from them.
The disciples grieved bitterly, shedding many tears and saying:
“How are we supposed to go out preaching to the rest of the world, proclaiming the gospel of the New Realm? If they did not spare him, then how will they spare us?”
Then Mary stood up. She embraced them all, kissing them tenderly and began to speak to her brothers and sisters:
“There is no need to remain stuck in sorrow, grief, and doubt! For his Grace will be with you all; it will guide you, comfort you, shelter, and protect you.
Rather, let us be thankful and praise his greatness, for he has brought us together and prepared us for this. Through him, we too can become fully human.”
Saying these things, Mary turned their hearts inward toward the Good, and they began to wrestle with the meaning of the Saviour's words and to discuss his sayings.
Then Peter said to Mary, "Sister, we know that you are greatly loved by the Saviour, more than any other woman. Tell us those words of His that you remember, the things which you know and we don't, the teachings we never heard.”
Mary answered, saying: “What is hidden from you I shall reveal to you. Whatever is unknown to you, and I remember, I will tell you.”
And she began saying these words to them.
She said, “Once I saw the Lord in a vision and I said to him: 'Lord, Rabouni, now I see you in this vision.’
He answered me and said: ‘Blessed are you Mary, for you do not waver at the sight of me. How wonderful you are! For this is where the treasure lies - in the nous, that place where heaven and earth meet, where deep understanding arises in the heart and mind.”
I asked him this: ‘Now tell me Lord, how does a person see such a vision, is it through their soul or through the Spirit?’
The Saviour answered: ‘It is neither through the soul nor through the Spirit, but through the nous, the understanding which arises between the two, that is how the vision is seen.’"
Pages 11-14 are missing.
And Craving spoke: “I didn't see you on your way down, but now I see you ascending.
Why are you lying? You're controlled by me!”
The Soul responded: “I saw you, but you never really saw me or knew me. You mistook the cloak I was wearing for my true self, so you didn't recognise me.” Having said all this, the Soul went away rejoicing.
Again, the Soul came into the realm of the third Authority, which is called Ignorance.
This scrutinised the Soul closely and interrogated it, saying: “Where do you think you're going? You are the slave of malicious habits, trapped and held prisoner by your own wicked inclinations. You lack discrimination, so your judgement is unsound!”
The Soul said: “Why are you being judgemental to me, even though I have not been judgemental? I have been dominated, but I myself have not constrained anyone. I was never recognised for my true self, but I have recognised this: that everything is impermanent, the whole of creation will be dissolved. All worldly things, all heavenly things, everything passes, everything will be released."
Liberated from the realm of the third Authority, the Soul continued its ascent, and came face to face with the fourth, the Authority of Wrath.
This took on seven manifestations. The first was obscurity; the second, craving; the third, ignorance, the fourth, the longing for oblivion; the fifth, enslavement to the demands of the body, the sixth was foolish worldly wisdom, the seventh, the hot-tempered certainty of anger.
These formed the seven-fold Authority of Wrath, which interrogated the Soul, demanding: “Where do you come from, murderer? and, where do you think you're going, deserter?”
The Soul responded: “It is what constrained me that has been vanquished, and what surrounded me that has been overcome. It's my craving that has come to an end, and my ignorance that has died."
I have been set free from one world with the aid of another world, from one way of doing things through a higher way. I have been liberated from the chains of forgetfulness which are both temporary and temporal. From this moment on, now and for all seasons, I am released into silent restfulness, where time rests in the eternity of time.”
After saying these things Mary settled into silence: that place of sanctuary to which the Saviour’s words had brought her.
But Andrew responded and said to the brothers and sisters:
“Tell me, what do you think about all that she has been telling us? Say what you will, but I for one don’t believe that the Saviour would have said such things! Certainly, these are strange teachings, it all seems quite different from his way of thinking.”
After some consideration, Peter responded in a similar way.
He questioned the brothers about the Saviour:
“Did he really speak secretly with a woman and not openly so that we could all hear? Are we just going to turn around and listen to her?
Did he really choose her and prefer her to us? Surely, he wouldn't have wanted to show that she is more worthy than we are?”
Then Mary wept. She said to Peter:
"My brother, Peter, what are you thinking? Do you really believe that I made all this up, or that I would tell lies about our Saviour?"
Levi also responded to Peter, saying:
"Peter, you have always been hot-tempered from the beginning, and now we see you arguing against this woman as if you were her adversary.
Yet if the Saviour deemed her worthy, indeed if he himself has made her worthy, then who are you to despise and reject her?
Surely the Saviour's knowledge of her is completely reliable. That is why he loved her more than us.
Brothers, we should be ashamed of our behaviour. We should cloak ourselves with True Humanity. Let us follow his instructions and cultivate this in ourselves. We should do as we were instructed and proclaim the good news the Saviour taught, never laying down any rules or laws beyond what he himself gave.
After Levi had said these things, they started going out to teach and to proclaim the gospel…….
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MARY
David Curtis 2023
This is the second draft of this translation project
In preparing this 2nd version, I am grateful for the assistance and encouragement of
Ella Rozett, Sarah Parkhouse, Lizzie Berne de Gear,
Jean Thornton, Joan Edmunds, Kayleen Asbo, Fay Barratt
Ben Pink Dandelion, Timothy Ashworth, Ringu Tulku Rinpoche
Southampton Quaker Meeting, Woodbrooke Quaker College
And all the many fellow participants of the
Gospel of Mary Friendly Study Groups
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This is work-in-progress, and I positively welcome any comments and constructive criticism which may help with editing and preparing the third draft
To download an archive copy of the first draft click here
To download a full copy of this version including footnotes, click here