ADVANCING MY THESIS
www.BelovedDisciple.org exists primarily for the purpose of advancing the thesis in my essay
entitled Mary Magdalene: Author of the Fourth Gospel? The essay itself can be found on the home page of the site.
It has been published on the web since 1998. It has become widely known among people who have researched Mary Magdalene or the Gospel of John online.
Below is a chronology of some of the more significant events in the advancement and acceptance of this thesis
over the years.
--- Ramon K. Jusino
July 13, 1998
My essay entitled Mary Magdalene: Author of the Fourth Gospel? is published on my website.
July 22, 1998
Dr. Leonard J. Swidler said the following after reading my essay:
“I wrote Ramon Jusino that I have found his essay on
Magdalene as the Beloved Disciple and the author of the
Fourth Gospel very persuasive. ...What we think of the
Gnostic theology is not germane to Jusino's use of that
material. He is simply pointing out that the portion of
the Community of the Beloved Disciple that retained the
alleged Magdalene leadership had their tradition taken
up by the gnostic camp. ...I believe [his thesis] has
more going for it than the alternative interpretation
that the gnostics simply made up the notion of
Magdalene’s being the Beloved Disciple. When put
together with the rest of Jusino's case, there is quite an amazing ‘fit’.”
Dr. Leonard J. Swidler, Ph.D.
Professor of Catholic Thought &
Interreligious Dialogue; Temple University,
Co-author of Toward A Catholic Constitution,
For All Life: Toward A Universal
Declaration Of A Global Ethic, &
Bursting the Bonds? A Jewish-Christian
Dialogue on Jesus and Paul (Faith Meets
These comments were made by Dr. Swidler on his public "VATICAN 2" email discussion forum which is hosted by Temple University.
I consider his remarks to be very significant as he is a renowned scholar, theologian, and university professor whose many published books and articles concentrate mostly on the role of women in Scripture and the Church.
I am very thankful to Leonard Swidler for his positive feedback.
May 8, 1999
A Spanish translation of Mary Magdalene: Author of the Fourth Gospel? is completed and published on my website.
July 19, 1999
Joseph A. Grassi wrote the following about my work:
“I have just finished going over your Beloved Disciple study a second time. You have really done a fine piece of investigation. As with so much biblical study you can only make educated guesses and get to various degrees of probability -- especially since no one has ever seen the actual original secessionist document. Your detective reconstruction work is very well done and I hope it reaches a wide audience. The following are some comments and observations:
1. Perhaps more attention should be given to the ‘appendix’ chapter 21 which has the greatest attempt of ‘apostolic modification’ that is witnessed by the document itself since it comes to an obvious original ending in the confession of Thomas and the conclusion, ‘Many other signs...etc.’ in 20:20. Chapter 21 looks like someone’s afterthought where the BD takes a back seat to Peter. Without this chapter, M.M.’s position is also stronger since we lose two references to the ‘one whom Jesus loved’ and also the reference that he wrote the gospel. That leaves us with only three other references to ‘the one whom Jesus loved.’ You have well taken care of one of them in regard to the open tomb as an interpolation. It is also a put down of women in that the empty tomb had to be verified by Peter and the other men as in Luke 24:11, 22-24.
2. About gender designations in the other texts: The BD at the last supper may be a reference to the Passover motif where a child/youth asks the wise question about the meaning of the event as in Exodus 12:26; 13:15. Thus it is not a gender designation. Also, Jesus and the Father are the model for the ‘bosom’ designation at the end of the prologue 1:18 where the Only Begotten in the bosom of the Father is the revealing one. The BD at the last supper continues this model by the great revelation from Jesus about the betrayer. Thus it may have nothing to do with gender. The designation of the BD at the foot of the cross as taking the place of Jesus in his mother’s family is more difficult to handle. Perhaps it should be brought out that the gospel may be seeing more in MM than first appears to the eye in regard to gender. Many gnostics referred to the original androgynous myth and restoration to the first original anthropos by finding our original lost half. In the ‘Gospel of Philip’ the sacraments are a means to finding this and the mystical union of Jesus and MM is a model for everyone in this process. Hence the often misinterpreted texts of Jesus’ kisses of MM...etc. The last saying of the ‘Gospel of Thomas’ has Peter appealing to Jesus to throw out MM since ‘women are not worthy of the kingdom!!’ Jesus responds strangely that he will make her into a ‘man’ which probably means that by union with her a person will become the new original androgynous human being.
3. The Fourth Gospel devotes a great deal of attention to the opening call of the anonymous disciple as the model for abiding with Jesus. Here there is a remarkable correspondence with the end of the Gospel and MM. Jesus addressed them both in similar ways, ‘Whom do you seek?’ or ‘What are you seeking?’ Both reply in almost the same way. In 1:37 ‘Rabbi’ (which means Teacher); in 20:16 MM says, ‘Rabboni’ (which means teacher).
4. The background of the Hebrew Scriptures’ Song of Songs points to a special designation of MM as beloved. In John 20, the whole theme is that of love conquering death. Likewise, the final statement of Songs 8:6, ‘Love is as strong as death.’ In John 20, the scene is at night, in a garden with Mary seeking her beloved with many tears, asking the gardener where he is, finding Jesus and not wishing to let him go. The same sequence is found in Songs 3:1-4, where the ‘watchmen’ are the custodians or gardeners. I stopped counting the number of times in Songs where the couple refer to one another as beloved, my love, or ‘the one whom my soul loves.’ So Mary well deserved the title of BD from that background. She is presented as the preeminent BD as the bride in the wedding feast of the lamb.
5. I use the word ‘preeminent’ because other disciples also are designated as ‘beloved’ in that Gospel. ‘Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister (Mary) and Lazarus’ (11:5). Mary, especially in her action of anointing Jesus’ feet and drying them with her hair has been named as a candidate for BD. A prominent Fourth Gospel scholar Sandra Schneiders has also studied the Samaritan woman in this regard.
6. Another confirmation of women’s authorship of this Gospel is found in the transferal of men’s roles in the Synoptics to women in the Fourth Gospel. For example, Peter is first called to fish men in those Gospels but the Samaritan woman in John goes out to recruit men and ‘leaves her jar’ as Peter left his nets. A relic of Peter as fisherman only comes in the appendix chapter 21. I have dealt with this theme in an article called ‘Women’s Leadership in the Fourth Gospel in Contrast to Male Models’ found in Bible Today, September, 1997.
I have been inspired by your work on Mary Magdalene as dealing with the prime matter of importance to the church of today, which is that of the restoration of leadership to women. Keep up your wonderful work.”
Joseph A. Grassi, S.S.L.
Professor of Religious Studies; Santa Clara University,
Author of The Secret Identity of the Beloved Disciple,
Rediscovering the Jesus Story: A Participatory Guide,
Broken Bread and Broken Bodies: The Lord's Supper and World Hunger, &
The Hidden Heroes of the Gospels: Female Counterparts of Jesus.
Joseph Grassi is another prominent and renowned scholar who has made very favorable comments about my work. These comments were made in a personal letter to me. He gave me permission to quote him on this website.
Many thanks to Joseph Grassi for taking the time to read my essay and comment on it.
A new online peer-reviewed theology journal is launched by the University of Bern (Switzerland) called Lectio Difficilior.
Their first issue includes an article by Esther A. deBoer entitled Mary Magdalene and the Disciple Jesus Loved.
This is a very significant event in the advancement of this thesis. This is a peer-reviewed theology journal in which my thesis is cited and affirmed. The article also states that Esther deBoer is working
on a Ph.D. dissertation. Her article is based on her dissertation work. Mary Magdalene: Author of the Fourth Gospel? is cited as source material within deBoer's article and her Ph.D. dissertation.
Much progress in the advancement of this thesis has been made here.
April 12, 2002
I appeared on PAX TV's Encounters With The Unexplained. They did a segment on Mary Magdalene and I was asked to be one of the participants in their
documentary. I believe this to be the first exposure for my thesis on national television.
July 8, 2002
A Russian translation of Mary Magdalene: Author of the Fourth Gospel? is completed and published on my website.
Esther A. de Boer's Ph.D. dissertation on the Gospel of Mary has been published as a book. As in her dissertation and a previous article (see the August, 2000 entry here), my article is cited as source material in her book. She concurs with my
thesis, for the most part, and brings much new corroborating evidence of her own. The book is:
THE GOSPEL OF MARY: BEYOND A GNOSTIC AND A BIBLICAL MARY MAGDALENE.
by Esther A. de Boer
New York: T & T Clark International: 2004.
Esther A. de Boer's Ph.D. dissertation (see last entry) is published in a new inexpensive paperback edition:
THE GOSPEL OF MARY: LISTENING TO THE BELOVED DISCIPLE
by Esther A. deBoer
New York: T & T Clark International: 2005.
April 5, 2007
I appeared on a documentary that premiered on THE HISTORY CHANNEL entitled Something About Mary Magdalene. My thesis was featured very prominently in this documentary. To date, this is the most significant television coverage of my thesis.
(Last updated on April 9, 2007)