I had a long talk with C last night about gnosticism and religious experience. He is very much into the Gospel of Mary Magdalen. He had a religious experience when he was about eight and in retrospect thinks it was of her. It is hard to get a word in edgeways when C starts talking but I tried to define the difference between the gnosticism of these apocryphal gospels and the message of the Gospels – salvation through the acquisition of secret knowledge, on the one hand, and through faith and love on the other. Of course it is not as black and white as that sounds. To love is to know, at least in the biblical sense, and one believes in order to understand as St. Anselm would have it. In fact he captures the subtle blending of the two attitudes when he says, Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam. (Indeed I do not seek to understand so that I may believe, but I believe so that I may understand.) 

C is convinced that Jesus married Mary Magdalen – amazing how a popular novel can influence. Why is the idea of marrying off Jesus so popular these days? It is as if the contradictions and paradoxes of the Jesus of the Gospels are too much and people want him to be someone they can understand. And what is wrong with a bit of romance, someone might say. It humanises him and, perhaps, makes him more accessible, but in doing so the mystery of who he is evaporates. Instead of being confronted by this extraordinarily compelling and mysterious man and being drawn through him towards the unfathomable depths of God we are faced merely with a good man, a brave and heroic teacher. It is as though the cognitive dissonance generated by the contradictory and paradoxical Jesus is too much to bear and the mind settles for a prophet with a romantic streak.

All of this distracts attention from the most significant fact about Jesus, namely the Resurrection.

Leave a Reply