The Last Supper
Mary Magdalene on Jesus' Right
This issue of course is a subject of great debate, and the subject of The Da Vinci Code, a novel by Dan Brown. The person to the right of Jesus is usually said to be John. However, take a look at the person. The individual is dressed to complement Jesus. The person has very feminine features and has hands clasped right besides those of Jesus. Together, their bodies form the letter "M". There are many accounts that state Jesus and Mary Magdalene were very close, and she of course figures prominantly in his resurrection story. Whether you personally believe this to be true or not, consider whether *Leonardo* believed it might be true ...
It's sort of fascinating from a cultural standpoint that a lot of this argument has come down to "does that person have breasts?" So now scholars are studying the chest of this figure to see if it pushes out. Heck, maybe Mary was small breasted.
The History of Mary Magdalene
Mary Magdalene was NOT A PROSTITUTE. She was a wealthy, honorable, respected and loyal woman. The ONLY reason anybody thinks she was a prostitute was because of a speech by Pope Gregory the Great. In 591 AD he made a mistake in a sermon and confused Mary M with another Biblical character. That one mistake lasted for centuries. Finally, in 1969 the Vatican officially spread the word that Pope Gregory was simply wrong.
In the Bible, Mary M is described as a woman of means that travels around with Jesus and the disciples. This would be pretty unusual for an unmarried woman in those days, to roam around with a band of unrelated men. In the gospels, it's said that Jesus kissed her and told her things he didn't tell the other apostles. Mary is the first person to talk to Jesus after his resurrection. Because of this and similar reasons, many feel that Mary was married to someone in the group - perhaps Jesus.
The above picture of Mary Magdalene was done by Abraham Janssens.
After Jesus' death, nobody knows for sure where Mary M went. Some say she went to Turkey, others say to Provence, France. There is no record of her after the death. Any statements made by any groups (including the Merovingian Kings who at one point claimed to be descended from her) are pure conjecture. No proof exists anywhere.
There IS no documentation linking Mary to ANYONE. There is no known documentation anywhere to say she had any child. The Merovingians claimed that they came from Mary's bloodline - but they also claimed they came from Atlantis and from sea creatures at other times. The earliest known Merovingian king was back in the 400s - nothing at all is known or documented about his parentage. The Merovingians tried for decades to prove this link, but never came up with anything to show for it.
Note that Mary M *did* write a gospel! Fragments exist of it today that can be read. The Gospel of Mary Magdalene
From a Visitor -
let us assume the figure to Jesus' right hand is in fact Mary Magdalene (and NOT Peter, as I doubt very much now), where is then the 12th apostle (and who is missing from the 12?????)?
My Answer - Well first off it wasn't Peter :) It was John that was the 'young feminine apostle' who was on Jesus' right.
If we actually believe for a moment in the Mary Theory, then Leonardo was trying to be subtle about this and not in-your-face. If he had actually included 12 apostles AND Mary AND Jesus it would have been outrageous to most religious people of the time, and the painting might have been painted over again. So he had to have "12 people" with Jesus and keep it a quiet message. Peter is the one he replaced with Mary because those who glanced at the painting would assume that Mary *was* John (who was always the effeminate one) and not put any more thought into it.
Maybe John bent down for a moment when the painting was done ;) Or maybe it's like in Star Trek II : Wrath of Khan. In that classic movie, Khan says "I remember you!" to Chekov. But in reality Chekov was NOT part of the cast yet in the original episode that had Khan meeting up with the Enterprise :) So there's no way Khan could have met Chekov never mind remembered him so vividly. The fan explanation is that Chekov might have been a lowly ensign in the bathroom during that episode and left Khan in a stall without toilet paper. Khan saw Chekov leaving and said angrily, "I will always remember you ...!"
In any case, if we say that the person on Jesus's side is Mary, and Da Vinci was hiding this fact, then he had to leave out John to make it work.
From a Visitor -
Wonderful handling of this sensitive topic! Seems trying to explain the missing disciple is a moot point. From the scripture, Judas left the meal. He is not present in the painting and Leonardo painted the group responding to his abrupt departure and his actions. The consternation and sorrow is palpable.
My Answer - Actually just to be clear here, Judas is MOST definitely in the painting. He is holding his 30 pieces of silver in his hand. So there's really no doubt that Judas is there, being "shocked" as Jesus has just announced he will be betrayed. The sorrow present is with all the apostles thinking, "someone HERE would betray you???"
From a Visitor -
A vistor suggests under the "Mary Magdalene" link that Judas has already left the room, therefore Mary Magdalene can be the thirteenth person. You say "Judas is MOST definitely in the painting. He is holding his 30 pieces of silver in his hand." BUT, under the "The mysterious hand and the knife" link you say that "The guy next to Mary (Judas) has his hands both on the table." And, Leonardo's artistic licence notwithstanding, you admit that "though in the 'actual timeline' he wouldn't have been paid that yet." I think a circle needs to be squared there, unless one can prove that the missing apostle had been partaking too much in the Last Supper wine and has fallen sideways, hence the missing pair of feet under the table.
My Answer - I'm not sure what you are contesting here. The guy next to Mary is most certainly Judas. He has both hands on the table - and one is holding a bag with 30 pieces of silver in it :) The point here is that Mary is "taking the place" of John, because Leonardo would have been yelled at if he *added* her into the painting.
From a Visitor -
Regarding the question of which disciple is missing, would it not be possible that "John" of the New Testament was in fact Mary Magdalene? I have not researched any of the apocryphal writings, but it seems to certainly fit the idea of covering up Mary's relationship with Jesus. John was the most beloved disciple.
My Answer - I really don't think there's any question that John and Mary M were two completely different people. There are enough writings about the two of them to know that they are separate from each other. However, Mary M is often talked about as being the most loyal of Jesus' followings and being very true to him. The whole nonsense of Mary being a harlot was a case of a pope making a HUGE mistake in one sermon and everybody continuing the bad information since then. Mary M was most definitely an honorable, caring, dedicated woman, also a wealthy one. So while the question is just HOW close she was to Jesus, I don't think anybody thinks she "was John".
From a Visitor -
I'd like to compliment you on the information on the pages regarding the Last Supper. I have been studying the life of Jesus and the bible my whole life, most intensely in the last year, and have had an admiration and fascination with Mary M. You revealed a few things I was unaware of, and I really liked your statements clarifying the true details of Mary's life. She has been maligned from the beginning, unfairly, and the factual and rational way you present the facts will help others discern fact from fiction. Your website is very attractive, and I like the frankness you demonstrate in your comments, very forthright without being rude. Very cool example.
My Answer - Thanks! Yes it is pretty scary how many centuries went by with people thinking this amazing woman was a prostitute, all because of one mistake. It really goes to show you how a single person in power can affect the thinking of generations of people.
From a Visitor -
I also have read the DaVinci Code. I'm not scolarly enough to believe nor disbelieve the theories put forth in the book. However, looking at Leonardo's "The Last Supper", it appears that all figures in the painting have beards except the figure to the right of Jesus. If I am correct, weren't Hebrew men required to wear beards unless in mourning? That would seem to say that the figure without the beard is a woman, ergo Mary, perhaps? Just a thought.
My Answer - John was always said to be a young guy, so the reason he doesn't have a beard is that he hasn't grown one yet. His descriptions in the Bible border on effeminate. There is also a fair amount of evidence that Leonardo was a homosexual and fond of his young, male models. He was publically accused of being the lover of one of them, and often drew male nudes. His male "companions" were very devoted. One student joined him at age 17 and stayed with him until his death. So if we take the "this figure is a guy and not a girl" approach, Leonardo was drawing his dream guy there, the young, beautiful youth.
From a Visitor -
In regards to the Pope Gregory 'mistake'...this wasn't a mistake at all. People often still confuse Mary Magdalene with Martha's sister Mary who was into witchcraft like things. It is often believed that extending back to Peter's outrage with Mary M. a conspiracy was set in place to defame any recognition and importance of her. A Catholic Pope wasn't about to recognize a female as a major part in the role of the Bible. Using sketchy evidence that actually leads to Martha's sister, not Magdalene, the church created the myth that Mary M. was the worst possible sinner of the time, a whore, before meeting Christ...In order to revitalize ailing cities with little faith, they offered Mary M's created character of a whore in repentance as a way out of a poor lifestyle. This is just as political as the church creating Jesus's birthday on December 25th, a previous Pagan holiday in order to falsly create a seemingly larger following/celebration. Mary M's saint day in the Catholic Church until the year you posted, 1969, was known as a day to celebrate a life of repetance. The Vatican officially recognized the incorrectness of this in 1969, but I have personally witnessed this still being preached in a catholic church and commonly thought of as truth. It is in 1969 that they removed the 'repentance' word from her Saint Day....That was the 'recognition'...there was no statement to seize any teachings of this belief.
My Answer - Interesting, I thought their "apology" was a little more blatant than that. You're sure nothing else was said by anyone when that change took place in 1969? I suppose I'll have to do some research and find out. I do agree there were great political reasons for the church to bash down females, and also for the church to hold up "sinners that were saved" as a beacon of hope for the downtrodden masses. But I still do think that Pope Gregory made a mistake during his sermon ... but that others lept on it as a great way to keep up what their political aims were. In fact, I just heard from someone that in Mel Gibson's the Passion of Christ, he does the EXACT same thing. So I have no doubt that some people still preach that nonsense on purpose for their own reasons. It makes them far happier to think of women as whores that maybe can be saved, vs as strong, powerful partners in the church that can stand right beside Jesus Christ.
From a Visitor -
Just a quick thought, I don't see any reason why the Disciple next to Jesus has so quickly become accepted as Mary M. I do notice some feminine characteristics to the painting, but, I believe that could be just to show the difference in ages. If you notice, James Minor also appear to have female qualities and I haven't heard any big stink about how that is a woman. don't you believe some of this could just be people seeing what someone has told them to see?
My Answer - Well, of course many art historians do not agree with the Mary M theory. Leonardo is thought by many to have been gay, and many of his male models were 'feminine'. So it could easily just be that the character in question was a young, feminine male that was attractive in a feminine sort of way. Heck, you can watch many anime series from Japan and see that same sort of 'teenage guy who looks like a girl' star. So yes it could be a male. But that wouldn't make for an interesting book, apparently :)
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