Redeeming Mary Magdalene

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EVERY generation of artists has brought its own sensibilities and experiences to the depiction of canonical Christian stories. Giotto, an Italian painter, set Bible scenes in medieval Tuscany. Rembrandt gave his a hint of mercantile 17th-century Amsterdam. “Mary Magdalene” is similarly a retelling of some of the faith’s main events from a 21st-century perspective, one that takes the original texts seriously but sets out to peel away aeons of sexist prejudice. It is a bold undertaking, particularly for film-makers with an impressive record otherwise but no experience of spiritual subjects.

At the heart of “Mary Magdalene” is the idea that Jesus’s most important female follower should be restored to a central, unique place in what might be considered the founding narrative of Western culture. The New Testament has much to say about this enigmatic figure, but is by no means comprehensive. It says that she, along with several other women, accompanied Jesus and the male disciples as he preached and healed. Her relationship with the Messiah…Continue reading

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