Professor Mark Goodacre delivers the second lecture in the Cadbury Lecture series 2013 at the University of Birmingham, “Myths of Mary and the married Jesus: how popular culture is affecting scholarship” (January 29, 2013).
From Jesus Christ Superstar to the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife, from the Last Temptation of Christ to the Da Vinci Code, this generation has seen a radical alteration in our perspectives on key characters in early Christianity. Mary Magdalene has been transformed from a repentant prostitute to the first apostle. Now she is even Jesus’ wife. But is Mary’s rehabilitation rooted in reassessments of the primary texts or is it a product of our own immersion in popular culture? What do we know about her Gospel, her tomb, her family? The real story of Mary’s rejuvenation is so mysterious that it leads us to question the identity of the woman we thought we knew.