Tradition and history have made of her "the other Mary." Even in the New Testament Mary Magdalene stands among women second only to Mary the Mother, albeit she has been reduced by the biblical Gospels to little more than a fallen woman redeemed by Jesus. In the Gnostic Gospels, however, Magdalene figures almost as significantly as Christ, who names her "the woman who knows all." The conflicting accounts of Mary Magdalene have sent best-selling author Lynn Picknett on a quest for the truth that has led her to the thirteenth-century cult of the Black Madonna, then back to Christianity's beginnings and earlier. Tracing Mary's name to Magdala in Egypt, Picknett learns that the term Magdal-eder means "tower of the flock," or Good Shepherd, a title also given to Jesus Christ. Based on her explorations into new scholarship on recently discovered Gnostic texts, Picknett finds a vital partnership between Jesus and Mary that synthesized Eastern and Egyptian mysticism and that promulgated gender equality, anointing rites, and sexual rituals. In that relationship, she discovers an alliance that Christ's Apostles and, later, the Catholic Church strove ardently to suppress. Picknett's revelations rarely fail to provoke at least a reconsideration of long-accepted church doctrine.
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