When early followers wrote narratives about Jesus, they were not just telling his history, they were engaged in reimagining the world. Four of these gospels came to be in the Bible but other stories were written in the early centuries as well. One of these is the Gospel of Mary, attributed to Mary Magdalene. In elaborating on her encounters with Jesus and the ascent of his soul after his crucifixion, it offers new insights into the importance of storytelling for the religious imagination of what it means to be fully human.
Karen L. King is the Hollis Professor of Divinity, Harvard University’s oldest endowed professorship (1721). Trained in comparative religions and historical studies, she is the author of books and articles on the diversity of ancient Christianity, women and gender studies, and religion and violence. Her particular passion is studying recently discovered literature from Egypt, such as The Gospel of Mary, The Apocalypse of James, The Gospel of Philip, and The Secret Revelation of John.