The Lost Gospel
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Introduction & Map

Gospel of Mary Discovered

Late Nineteenth Century

This painting by early Renaissance painter Giotto depicts the scene where Jesus appears before Mary Magdalene.
This painting by early Renaissance painter Giotto depicts the scene where Jesus appears before Mary Magdalene.
Photograph by Elio Ciol/Corbis

The Gospel of Mary is another early Christian text that was known only through references in other writings until an incomplete copy was discovered in the late 19th century. The second- or third-century Gospel's "Mary" is generally believed to be St. Mary Magdalene, though she is not positively identified in the portions of the text that survive.

Some early Christians believed that Mary Magdalene was an especially enlightened person, chosen by Jesus to acquire and disseminate knowledge. This belief was grounded in Gnostic ideas that the material world was imperfect, but could be transcended by an elite few through the revelation of special knowledge that could redeem the spark of the divine within them.

Much of this Gospel consists of dialogue in which questioning disciples ask for and receive guidance from Mary, who takes on the role of a teacher.