As a child, I grew up in an environment where the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church was the only truth. Since then I freed myself from this misbelief. Even the immediate successors of Jesus – namely his apostles – were arguing amongst each other when it came to the authentic transmission of his teachings. Back then the church came up with different versions, which led to grim power struggles between the different fractions. Between 66 and 74 AD the Christian community in Jerusalem dissolved, and with it a binding version of Christianity. Some of the successors of this community, the Ebionites, were treated as heretics and turncoats and killed.
In the first four centuries chaos and prosecution of believers defined the history of the church. In 325 AD, in order to gain uniformity, the Council of Nicaea determined that Jesus was the native son of God. Everything the council decided on and defined as the truth had to be viewed by Christians as the only true beliefs and deviations were not accepted. (This dogmatic belief is still present today and comes through in the so-called infallibility of the pope.)
Other versions of the Christian teachings, which derived from the decided beliefs, were fought and their spread was prevented. Because of this there still exist many gospels from the first centuries that are not known to people, because the Roman church did not acknowledge them, e.g. the Maria Magdalene gospel from the 4th century.
Having said that, it should not come as a surprise that the teachings of Mary Magdalene, which were practiced and passed on from generation to generation by believers in France until the 12th century, are nowadays viewed as devil’s work, blasphemy or seen as fantasies of crazy mystics. Thousands of people paid with their lives in the Middle Ages, because they believed that Mary Magdalene was Jesus’ wife and passed on her intellectual heritage to her successors. Thankfully, we do not land on the stake for our belief today – at least not physically. 😉
In the small village church of Roussillon in Provence, I found Mary Magdalene and Jesus depicted next to each other. If you travel around with open eyes, you can still find hidden clues that point to their close connection. On our spiritual journey in the fall I will certainly visit this church with my group.