From how I understood it, as a woman myself, it was meaningful to Norman that Mary Magdalene was a woman because the Christian leaders have for nearly two thousand years excluded women from any significant leadership roles in their only-boys club house... From a strictly Christian perspective, it's significant that a woman in her role of the greatest sinner on Earth (oy vey), could be the first to recognize and be recognized as redeemed...
But there may be other reasons to consider this a significant female event that too often (always!) goes unmentioned on Easter Sunday. It has always fascinated me how frightened the Christian male leadership has been of women and particularly of Mary Magdalene (who was NOT shunned) who was a spiritual leader in her own right and in her own sect of priestesses of Isis (also known as Theotokos), hence the title of Mary, which was not a name, but a title (hence the alabaster jar of oil for anointing the sacrificial son god). Jesus' mother also of that sect.
The Nag Hammadi texts, containing the Gospel of Mary whose origins date around the year 150, conclusively show her intimate and important spiritual relationship with her teacher. Her spiritual leadership in those texts is also clear as she is described as Jesus' beloved and most trusted, and even as a teacher herself. Even in the "approved" gospels she is described as the Apostle of Apostles for seeing the resurrected Jesus first and receiving his teachings to tell others.
The full historical context makes Norman's observation of Mary of Magdala being the first person as a woman to make the encounter with the man who was most likely her husband and teacher, even more critical, considering the defamation of her character and her name that the male christian leadership took on over these many centuries.
This woman today wonders when the full story will be told to children in Sunday school? If ever? Heaven forbid woman ever be raised from her "sinful" origins to one of spiritual equality with her teacher, lord, god and savior.... Mary as teacher, as spiritual leader and as his companion & bride- a fairly normal & required condition for rabbis back then as well as today.
"There were three who always walked with the Lord,Mary, his mother; Mary, her sister;And Mary of Magdala, who was called his companion." The Gospel according to Mary, From the Nag Hammadi texts
We must never forget that "history" is told by the victors. Until the contemporary Christian churches of today amend this historical context, the full story of woman and her traditional inclusion in all things sacred will not be told.
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