The Mythos of Jesus and Mary Magdalene

*This article was first published in New Age Journal in 2006.  The website is no longer available

They Mythos of Jesus and Mary Magdaleneadonis-and-aphrodite

New insights into Mary Magdalene’s role as beloved Apostle and companion to Jesus have convinced many that she was probably Jesus’ wife and soul mate.  For others who adhere to Jesus’ celibate image as a condition for his divinity, this notion is a heresy that is based on very few embraceable facts.

The least recognized evidence of Jesus and Mary Magdalene’s divine union is held within a mythological legacy, a series of Hellenistic myths that hold a mysterious connection to the Jesus story.  The mythological motif of birth, death and resurrection of a “godman” that culminates in the reunification between God and Goddess has numerous examples:  Mithra and Anahita of Persia, Tammuz and Istar of Syria, Osirus and Isis of Egypt and Adonis and Aphrodite of the Greeks.  To the ancients, these Gods and Goddesses were always paired and vested with supernatural powers and position– honored by public celebrations and rituals that enacted portions of their mythology and celebrated the harvest.  For the Persians, the myth held a prophetic promise of the incarnation of Mithra whom they believed would be sent by Ahura Mazda (God) to repair the culture and reign as a ‘good king’.  At the time of Christ’s birth, the Magi of Persia fully expected that Mithra would incarnate in the same way the Jews believed that the prophecies of Isaiah would be fulfilled.

The most fascinating similarity to Jesus’ story is the myth of the birth, death and resurrection of Adonis, the Hellenic Greek God whose consort was Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, and Mary Magdalene’s namesake.  The name Mary is derived from Miriummeaning “myrrh of the sea” or “star of the sea,” a title also associated with Aphrodite who emerges out of the sea with her brother Eros as a passionate archetype of feminine beauty and love.  Aphrodite was a goddess whose sexuality was central to her divine nature and whose quest to resurrect her spiritual spouse, Adonis, required determination and the surrender of all her earthly possessions.  She embarks on a heroic adventure into the underworld to confront the death Goddess, Persephone, and emerges with the resurrected Adonis by her side.

Like Aphrodite, whose sexuality is her ‘claim to fame’ and the subject of ridicule and jealousy, Mary’s image is also painted as a harlot, shamed and defiled.  This similarity is more than coincidence because, in truth, the archetype, Aphrodite, drove Mary’s personality, psychology and spiritual purpose defining her as the Goddess whom Jesus would love and whom he could embrace as his divine complement.  As part of Mary’s psychology, the archetype likely dominated her consciousness pushing her to shed a legacy of shame, to embrace the sacredness of her sexuality, and rebirth her own consciousness to embody the more divine aspects of her feminine soul.

Jesus’ identity similarly holds parallels to Adonis.  Firstly, Jesus was referred to as “Adonai” in the Bible, a Hebrew word meaning “Lord” or highest god.  The Syrians similarly titled their lord, “Adon”.  Secondly, the cave site sanctified as Jesus birth in Bethlehem was a pre-existing sacred site of worship dedicated to Adonis.  Thirdly, it is said that the blood-red anemones sprang up on the hill on which Jesus was crucified and on Mount of Beatitude,where Jesus gave his first sermons, just as they sprang from the blood of Adonis when Aphrodite blessed his blood in memorial.  Finally, the wild boar responsible for Adonis’ demise, symbolic of brutality and greed, was an emblem adopted by Roman soldiers and carried on their shields.

The mythological personality of Adonis, birthed in the sign of Aries, was a will-driven youth who cast caution to the wind in pursuit of the hunt. Conversely, the personality of Jesus whose spiritual conviction drove him to boldly confront the Pharisees and Sadducee priests and convert his community, could best be described as a mission that lacked caution, one that resulted in his persecution and crucifixion.  Just as Aphrodite steered Mary’s personality, Adonis would have driven Jesus to step out fearlessly and boldly on a defiant mission of love.

From these parallels what is brought to light is that Adonis/Aphrodite myth, which was circulating in the region some 300 years before the birth of Christ, was Jesus and Mary’s underlying mythology, an unconscious script about the destiny of twin complements who would rise to embody their divinity as God and Goddess. To some degree, it cast their fate presenting many opportunities to choose an abiding love no matter what the challenge, and to learn the lessons they had chosen for their incarnation so that each would spiritually evolve and mature.  It laid out the plan for a mutual destiny, one that would fulfill their promises to each other as well as a profound spiritual mission.

Discovering the parallel elements between the narratives of the Gospels and the many resurrection myths, Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy the authors of The Jesus Mysteriesand Jesus and The Lost Goddess, have concluded (in an exaggerated error) that Christian fathers borrowed from the legacy of Adonis as well as other pagan resurrection themes in putting together the New Testament, citing the parallels as proof that Jesus’ history (birth, crucifixion, and resurrection) was just another myth with no historical basis.  They deny the very existence of Jesus, stating they could find no evidence that Jesus ever existed as a real person. Instead, they suggest he was a meaningful construction of early Christians, Gnostics, an archetype of a Godman, used figuratively to represent the fully realized individual who achieves “Gnosis,” the ultimate truth and consciousness of himself as ‘divine’.  In this view Jesus was, therefore, only symbolic for the Christ within us all and never lived at all.

There is little argument that there are numerous embellishments in the Gospel narratives, and that certain elements added to Jesus story were admittedly borrowed from pagan communities whose celebrations were well established.  For instance, the birth date of December 25th was a borrowed element, likely included so that the new religion might be easily accepted and absorbed into the pagan communities whose solstice celebration of Saturnalia fell on that date.  However, such reconstructions and embellishments do not erase and nullify the fact of the man’s existence nor his mission.  Most of the parallels between Jesus’ life and the Adonis myth, in fact, exist not because they were authored in by gospel writers, but because they emerged as synchronicities from within a meaningful unfolding destiny.  For instance, the three of Marys, pointing to the Goddess Aphrodite, could seem like coincidence to some, but for the awakened mind, the synchronicity of the three Marys, implies that a meaningful evolutionary plan was in place, in which three faces of the Goddess (Mother, Virgin and Bride) were on stage with Jesus to light his way, helping him to psychologically and spiritually mature.  They were in the forefront of his life as feminine reflections of his soul and representative of the feminine face of God.  They would awaken him to the power of the Feminine and prepare him for the mystical marriage, uniting Bride and Bridegroom (the masculine and feminine within) — a spiritual transformation that would fulfill his destiny and rebirth his consciousness to achieve Christhood.

The parallel elements should in fact underscore the importance of Jesus life and authenticate his and Mary Magdalene’s relationship rather than to raise doubt as to their existence.

The Adonis and Aphrodite myth prophesized the incarnation of Jesus alongside Mary Magdalene, in the same way that a precognitive dream prophesizes a future event.  Mythic elements and themes manifest in the creative field we call life regularly. Myths are public dreams or scripts embedded in the collective unconscious and composed of metaphoric imagery like our night dreams, but on a larger scale.  They drive human consciousness forward on an evolutionary trail through deaths, rebirths and battles that act out human psychological and spiritual dilemmas, completing a cycle of humanity’s destiny plan, through which all of humanity is to learn the lessons of its fate.  With gods and goddesses, demigods and mortal characters as archetypes — powerful energies of light and dark — myths unfold out of unconscious aspects of the collective soul and eventually manifest as real-life dramas that are a part of real historyMyths offer a blueprint or script for each and every individual who will consciously walk its path recognizing the evolutionary tasks they must master in order to grow in consciousness and evolve for the betterment of the consciousness of all.  The hero of the myth or collective dream is birthed into the world through each individual soul whose destiny it is to act out the part and fulfill its destiny.  In the case of Jesus and Mary Magdalene’s underlying myth, the destiny fulfills a promise of resurrection and spiritual reunification between two separated lovers, bride and bridegroom, to reconcile the split within their souls and to fulfill their promise to serve the evolution of consciousness of humanity through a profound example and their teachings.

After I compared the narratives of Jesus’ story in the Gospels with the myth of Adonis I was left to ponder one stark contrast between the two stories.  The reconciliation between God and Goddess seems to have been replaced with a mate-less dying God, who was sacrificed on the cross and ascended without having truly fulfilled the divine plan of reconciliation.  Or is it that we were not told the ending chapter of Jesus’ life as it really occurred?  Did Jesus survive the crucifixion and did Mary, like Aphrodite, save his life?  His mythology would lead us to believe so.

Copyright (c) 2006 Ariadne Green. All rights reserved.Ariadne Green, MS, is an internationally recognized dream/mythology expert, shaman and the author of Ariadne’s Book of Dreams, Warner Books 2001 and Divine Complement: The Spiritual Terrain of Soulmate Relationships.  






Stellar Heart Meditation – Bridal Chamber Mystery


Play audio

Experience the mystery of the bridal chamber initiation. 

Excerpt from Jesus Mary Joseph on the subject of the stellar heart.

“As the entrance to the dimensions of the God self, what we ordinarily refer to as our spirit, our heart is our awakener to the consciousness of the light and represents a temple of unity and love. Not the heart we generally check to see whether it’s beating a steady rhythm but our Stellar Heart, the intricate and unique matrix center of our oversoul that hums harmonies and touches the consciousness of others. The Stellar Heart is best- conceptualized as a crystalline chamber resembling a radiant seven-pointed star. Like a bright star-cut diamond, it radiates and harmonizes light, a light that’s intelligent, creative and transforming. This intricate matrix exists as part of the sixth dimensional spirit body (light body) and therefore is beyond most perceptions of the un-awakened mind. Its higher intelligence and brilliance exceed the workings of the biological brain and ordinary thinking functions. Even those accomplished in traditional meditation techniques, such as transcendental meditation and Buddhist practices, may not yet have touched the deeper dimensions of the Stellar Heart to realize the inborn potentials of the signature codes contained within. However, through heart-centered meditation and repose we can touch many levels of this divine intelligence and experience beautiful rays of colored harmony that infuse the heart. This light of God will flood our hearts with love and permeate our consciousness, heightening our awareness of the love that is at our core. God’s light welcomes us into the Bridal Chamber, where it becomes an anointing fire of love that cleanses, purifies and transforms us at the deepest structure of our DNA.

The initiation within the crystalline chamber reveals mysterious dimensions of light where rays of colored harmonies initiate us into deep memory. The memory is really the imprinted legacy of our origins, and touching it represents a core realization. The rays of light arise from two sacred trinities imprinted as codes of light that are housed within the Bridal Chamber. The trinities of light are really two signatures. One unifies masculine and feminine intelligences, two unique polarities represented by two V’s; one is inverted, and together the two create a mysterious X. The other signature unites us with another—our twin flame and Divine Complement. The signature of twin-soul communion is represented as two horizontal V’s, ><, moving closer and closer together. The arcane symbol X expresses both unification codes in a single symbol: male and female, spirit in matter as well as the unification of twin flames, V’s on their sides facing each other to form another version of the ><. Both codes have dwelled within us since our creation and represent the root of our consciousness with God.”


Engraving Reveals The Mysterious Underworld of Da Vinci’s Last Supper


“Those who try to censor knowledge do harm to both knowledge and love, because love is the offspring of knowledge, and the passion of love grows in proportion to the certainty of knowledge.–Leonardo Da Vinci 

Last Supper

Copyright James Constable

For those who have been anticipating the next Leonardo Da Vinci masterpiece to be discovered, this metal plate of the Last Supper could be hailed the most mysterious, perplexing, and revealing work by the Master unveiled thus far. The discovery of this metal cut attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci, circa 1480-1520, was kept under wraps for eight years.  That is until July 17, 2015 when a short press release was published on business wire (link) and picked up by only a small number of secondary news sources. Coming on the heels of the 2012 discovery in Scotland of the yet be authenticated Da Vinci painting of Madonna and Christ with John the Baptist, the climate for this discovery may be a bit cool because of the fact that particular painting received little support from the art experts for its authenticity.  There also are apt to be critics who come forward to challenge this engraving’s authenticity in the coming weeks and months until the more hidden details are explained and the scientific data is accepted.  The details I unveil here should prove once and for all that Leonardo Da Vinci hid many elements in his painting and engravings, encoded clues to his secret heretical beliefs, mystical leanings, inner world and wildest thoughts.  The most controversial is his unstated assertion that Mary Magdalene was Jesus’ Divine Complement and the mother of his children.

I was first made aware of the discovery of this engraving almost two years ago when art-scholar and collector James Constable contacted me asking for my expert interpretation and analysis of the hidden elements and symbols within the engraving, of which there were numerous. James had read my 2012 analysis and interpretation of the unauthenticated Da Vinci painting of the Madonna and Christ with John the Baptist, belonging to Fiona McLaren of Scotland.  At this point in time, that painting is only attributed to the Da Vinci School but should be authenticated as produced by Leonardo’s own hand in the coming years. In my paper, “Da Vinci’s Last Testament” (link), I examine and interpret illusionistic images that permeate that particular painting and I make a strong case that the painting was indeed painted by Leonardo himself. James agreed and was convinced I would see what he and a few others had seen hidden in the sublayers of the engraving metal plate and be able to add a great deal to his interpretations.

Evaluation of the Plate

The metal cut may represent the earliest version and possibly only original version that has been preserved of Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Last Supper.”

James Constable tells us, “Metal cuts are a rare form of relief printing that date to the 15th century. They are created by engraving lines that serve as sublayers of the final masterpiece.  Through eight years of research, extensive chemical testing at The McCrone Group and additional analysis, the metalcut features unique designs, images and chemicals that are often attributed to Da Vinci.”

He goes on to offer the following list of conclusive findings about the engraving that are indicative of Da Vinci’s works:

1.  The symbol of Lodovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, who commissioned Da Vinci’s “Last Supper,” is found on the metal cut;

2.  The decorations on the sides and top of the metal cut are mirrored in the architecture of the Santa Maria delle Grazie Church in Milan, home of the “Last Supper” and where Da Vinci served as architect and artist;

3. The inclusion of secondary hatching and advanced engraving techniques, drapery formation and design – that were exclusive to Da Vinci who was left handed – suggest the metal cut was made contemporaneously with the creation of the “Last Supper” painting;

4. Signature Da Vinci monogram symbols are found in the metal cut – including Da Vinci’s personal signature;

5.  The metal cut’s 500-year-old casting and refining techniques, along with the presence of alunite, a sulfate mineral mined near Allumiere, Italy where Da Vinci worked, are all present and indicative of Da Vinci’s work.

6.  The earliest version of the “Last Supper” depicts Jesus’ right sleeve not resting on the table, as seen in the above metal cut, proving this was made before 1520 in the lifetime of Da Vinci;”

To this list I would add:

7. The masterful experimentation with optics to create illusionistic figures and symbols, adding a hidden dimension to the composition has been recognized in a number of Da Vinci’s paintings.

Sublayers reveal a host of symbols and hidden clues confirming the Beloved Disciple was Mary Magdalene:

At first glance, the composition of the engraving is identical to the painting of the Last Supper at Santa Maria delle Grazie Church in Milan.  The twelve disciples seated or standing in groups of three with Christ at the center all mirror the painting that graces the wall of the rectory that took Leonardo three years to complete.  The composition is thought to portray the moment in which Jesus says to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” However, the engraving offers many details that the painting doesn’t, including countless optical illusions.

Since the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown popularized the research of authors like Lincoln, Baigent, and Leigh and Picknett and Prince, who presented the theory that it was not the Apostle John but Mary Magdalene seated adjacent to Jesus to form the infamous “V” and “M” symbolizing the Grail, there has been much added to  substantiate the theory and even more added to the rebuttal.  Because there had been little proof of what was on Leonardo’s mind in his portrayal of the Last Supper, advocates of the traditional Christian view proclaim the theory of encoded clues a stretch of the imagination. But the argument that Leonardo coded the Last Supper with symbolic clues to set forth his heretical beliefs  persists. Did Da Vinci really intimate that Mary Magdalene was Jesus’ divine complement in the Last Supper?  And was he replacing the Apostle John with Mary as the Beloved Disciple?

engraving-close-up-mmClose up of Mary Magdalene Last Supper Engraving Sublayer

Interestingly, the engraving reveals details in the form of optic illusionistic images (hidden faces and objects) that were intended as symbolic clues revealing the real identity of the disciple who complements Jesus’ attire, position and posture.  If we examine the close up photo of the sublayer of the engraving and hone in on who is traditionally thought to be an effeminate looking Apostle John, we notice staffs of wheat fanning out on the table in front of him. They emerge out of the folds of the arms of his robe.  And if we look at John’s upper chest at the heart, adjusting our eyes a couple of times by blinking, we perceive an optic phenomenon that produces something elusive that at first goes unnoticed. We see an infant’s face and torso nestled there. The hidden baby may explain Apostle Peter’s hand gesture at John’s throat, alluding to something significant present there.  And interestingly, his hand gesture also forms a “V”, symbolic for the feminine vessel. Granted, it takes most a few minutes to perceive the optical illusions in the engraving but without a doubt an infant is there as well as the bouquet of wheat staffs.  Why would the Apostle John be holding an infant at the Passover meal?  He wouldn’t be.  And there is nothing to associate John with staffs of wheat.  Wheat is most often associated with the feminine as with the mother Goddess Demeter, a goddess of agriculture who in her ancient depictions is often carrying a bundle of wheat. The staff of wheat would signify a woman’s fertility and maternal nurturing qualities.  As the staff of life, wheat bundles are a longstanding symbol of fertility, bounty and nurturing associated with the feminine principle.

The conclusion?  As suggested by Dan Brown and a number of other authors on the topic, it is not John placed at the table to complement Jesus as the “Beloved Disciple”, after all—It is Mary Magdalene and her child.

Interestingly, another child, a toddler, emerges to the left of Mary Magdalene interfacing with the figure of the Apostle Peter.  Again this figure is also concealed through the use of optics.  From where I sit, it appears that Mary is leaning towards this child, which explains the expression of maternal affection on her face that until now was assumed to be directed towards Peter. As I present in my book, Jesus Mary Joseph (link) Jesus and Mary Magdalene did have two children, a girl Sara and a boy, Josephe.  

The Key and the Pathway of the Heart.  

Matthew-key-PhillipClose-up Apostle Philip and Matthew holding key and 2nd Figure with Teapot

Another symbol hidden in the field of the composition is a key held in the hand of Matthew.  It is held up in front of Philip’s heart while Philip clutches his chest with both hands, a gesture conveying compassion, sincerity, love, appreciation and reverence.  Philip’s emotional appeal contrasts the demeanor of the other disciples who appear to be grappling with Jesus’ announcement of an impending betrayal by one of the disciples. This portrayal could signify Philip’s importance to Da Vinci as the disciple who possessed superior knowledge or a more enlightened view.  If the key represents wisdom or knowledge, the meaning most often assigned to the symbol, then Matthew is also a wise man pointing to the wisdom of the heart, gnosis cardias, a tenet of Valentinian Gnosticism.

There is reason to believe that Leonardo was a proponent of Valentinian Gnosticism and chose for himself a path of self-knowledge versus the faith driven doctrine of the Church of Rome.  He like Caravaggio belonged to an unorthodox group of Christians who venerated Mary Magdalene above the Virgin and who also viewed John the Baptist as the legitimate Lamb of God. This underground stream of Gnostic Christianity considered the Apostles Phillip and John, not Peter, the patriarchs of their Church. Therefore, the key of authority traditionally assigned to Saint Peter by the Orthodox faith, in Da Vinci’s mind belonged to Philip.

The Valentinian Gnostics studied and adhered to the more mystical teachings of Jesus, and held a gospel attributed to Philip, the Gospel of Phillip, in high esteem.  In his painting Salvator Mundi, Leonardo portrays Jesus as a mystic holding a crystal ball instead the corpus crucifix, the traditional symbol associated with the Savior of the World motif. This suggests Leonardo did not believe in the doctrine of salvation through Jesus Christ, but rather that Jesus was merely a wisdom teacher.  In that painting, the bodice of Jesus’ gown features the letter X (oblique cross) an insignia of the Gnostic Church during the Middle Ages. And his paintings John the Baptist and Virgin on the Rocks both convey the debate over who was the prophesied Messiah (Lamb of God), Jesus or John the Baptist.  The belief that John the Baptist was the authentic Lamb of God was held by Mandean Gnostics who venerated John the Baptist above Jesus and suggested Jesus had stolen John’s teachings.


An interesting similarity exists between The Last Supper and Da Vinci’s portrait of John the Baptist that sheds light on Leonardo’s spiritual beliefs and his problem with the Orthodox view that Jesus was God incarnate.  In the Last Supper, Thomas, the doubter of John’s Gospel, holds up his finger to proclaim:   “One God in Heaven” while Philip points to his heart, to mention gnosis cardias, the knowledge of the heart.  In the portrait John the Baptist, Da Vinci combines both gestures by depicting John the Baptist holding up his finger to point to God in heaven while the other hand rests at his own heart. Leonardo is communicating the exact same message in both paintings, “Love for One God” or  “One God whose mystery is contained in the heart.”  Like the biblical Thomas who in the Gospel of John is portrayed as doubting Jesus’ resurrection and reappearance to the disciples (John 20: 24-29), Da Vinci doubted the Christology of Jesus as the resurrected savior.

Teatime Eucharist

Up until now, Da Vinci’s Last Supper was thought to strictly adhere to the Gospel narratives depicting the events of the Passover meal prior to Jesus arrest including the announcement of the impending betrayal and the covenant Jesus made to his disciples through the Last Supper sacrament.  …”And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.  ”But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”… Matthew 26: 27-29

The absence of the grail cup or wine glasses in his painting of the Last Supper has spawned numerous theories. The most popular theory, one introduced to the mainstream by Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, is that the “V” created by the positions of Jesus and Mary Magdalene was meant to replace an actual grail cup because in Da Vinci’s mind Mary Magdalene represented the vessel and the carrier of the bloodline, Sangrael.

But the engraving reveals that no fruit of the vine was poured out at all, only tea.  Morphing out of and adjacent to Philip emerges another figure, adding to the number of participants present at the Passover Feast or Last Supper. This person appears to be serving tea because a teapot or similar vessel has been brought to the table on his arm. By introducing this element, Leonardo is making a mockery of the events at the Last Supper as well as the Eucharist ritual, which was and still is the most celebrated sacrament of the Church. The only thing I can conclude is that Leonardo was taking great liberties to expound on his disdain for Christianity, knowing full well that no one could see the hidden elements of the engraving and therefore his heretical beliefs could remain his own without any danger of being hauled before a tribunal.  So why not say all that he was thinking about the Christian faith and Jesus Christ.


The Man with the Knife, Bear and Demon Dog

One of most puzzling and obvious illusionistic figures hidden within the composition emerges on the table between Judas and Andrew.  As nonsensical as it sounds, at first glance, he looks like a Chinaman wielding the infamous knife, the curved tip fisherman’s knife, belonging to Peter.  The knife seems directed at Andrew whose arms and hands go up in a defensive posture. The inclusion of the knife in the Last Supper was previously thought to reference the arrest scene from the narratives in all four Gospels in which Peter cut off the right ear of a high priest’s servant (John 18: 10-12).  The hand with the knife has been a major topic of discussion amongst those interpreting the Last Supper because it appears not to belong to any of the disciples (disembodied hand). However, some point out Peter’s twisted arm posture suggests it is in his hand.  But does the presence of this mystery man suggest Leonardo had something else in mind entirely?  And who is this mysterious stranger who looks like he is about to betray Andrew? Because of the close proximity to Judas, the mystery man may have represented the archetype of the betrayer, symbolically present to represent Judas betrayal of Jesus and his brotherhood.  Andrew in this case as the “first chosen” disciple would have represented the bonds of discipleship and brotherhood that were betrayed that night.

If you continue to look in the vicinity of the mystery man you notice another illusionistic figure appears resting against his back and facing in the opposite direction adjacent to Judas.  It is a docile bear dressed in similar attire as the mystery man and, therefore, it could be assumed that its identity is tied to this stranger. The Christian symbolic meaning for the bear has its origins in the prophesies of Daniel.  In Chapter 7 of the Book of Daniel, Daniel describes a vision and revelation connected to the four kingdoms that will precede the “end-time” and the “Kingdom of God”.  The second kingdom is that of Medes and Persia and is represented by the bear who holds human ribs between its teeth: “And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.”  Because the bear in the composition appears docile it could Judas’ animal nature that at any given moment could turn from docile bear to beast.

Interestingly, the figure of the Chinaman also appears as an optical illusion in the mural of the Last Supper in Milan.  A novice youtube producer uncovered this fourteenth figure wielding the knife in the mural painting and published a video (link) on the topic in 2008.  This strong piece of evidence directly links the metal cut to the mural of the Last Supper and to Da Vinci’s own hands.

Judas is not the only Passover participant in the Last Supper composition to possess animalistic tendencies. In fact, Jesus himself appears to have been endowed with an animal archetype. There are several layers of illusionistic imagery to the Christ figure at the center of the composition and with an open eye one begins to witness the shapeshifting of Jesus’ image, even with his attire.  However, the most fascinating image that emerges is at Jesus’ throat. It appears to be a snarling demonic-faced hound.  It is the most outlandish element in the composition and turns this seemingly pious religious masterpiece into a Dante’s Inferno-like underworld of dark and light imagery.  In actuality, Leonardo may have inserted this archetype to represent the hellhound, the legendary animal that guarded the gates of Hades and hunted out lost souls.  By legend, to see one or to hear its howl meant eminent death. Therefore, the hellhound was probably inserted to be symbolic for Jesus’ precognition of his betrayal and death by crucifixion.

Jesus-demonClose-up of the Hellhound at Jesus’ Throat


Sublayer photo of Engraving

The Multitude of Confusing symbols, archetypes items and figures 

When James Constable mentioned to me how many symbols, animal archetypes, mysterious objects and human figures he had catalogued, all drawn out of the field of the engraving’s composition, I was astonished and perplexed. Some of the illusionistic figures and elements I was able to uncover include: animals such a bear and dove, a spider, snake, toad; historical figures from Da Vinci’s own era; soldiers or fairies emerging from the center of the border frame flowers; and items like a teapot, key, chain and intricately decorated glassware with tiny Romanesque scenes micro-engraved on them. Did all these illusionistic elements hidden with the use of optics have a specific meaning to Leonardo, meant to represent a meaningful dialogue about Christ’s legacy, specifically the Last Supper?   Not necessarily.  Certainly, elements such as the wheat staffs, infant and toddler all associated with Mary Magdalene did have a very specific and significant meaning that can be tied to Leonardo’s heretical beliefs and a Gnostic tradition that venerated Mary Magdalene.  But other figures and objects included on, above, and below the table make for a very confusing sublayer of symbolic imagery.  In fact, there are several grotesque or demonic faces included that render the composition absurd and hideously irreverent.

On the other hand, the inclusion of animals may have mentioned Leonardo’s fondness for the animal kingdom and appreciation and reverence for nature. In his fables, modeled after Aesop’s fables, animal archetypes take on human characteristics and attributes to speak about moral dilemmas.  The toad resting on Jesus’ forearm in this engraving of Last Supper, for instance, would have had symbolic significance in Da Vinci’s mind.  Interestingly, The Miser, one of Leonardo’s fables, is about a toad who eats mouthfuls of earth and never gets his fill.  When asked by “aladybird”  why he does not eat until full?  He answers, “Because one day,” replied the miser, “even the earth might come to an end.”  

However, Leonardo probably included the symbol of the toad for its generally accepted meaning:  The toad or frog is as a symbol of transformation, transition and resurrection. This symbolism like the hellhound would be fitting in light of Jesus’ eminent death and resurrection.  Amongst Da Vinci’s drawings are many drawings of animals, some of which also appear in the engraving’s sublayer.  A recently authenticated engraving of Orpheus carved by Italian artist Marcantonio Raimondi in 1505 depicts a Leonardo look-alike as Orpheus in flowing robes serenading a bear with a “lira da braccio.”  A dog sits next to him scratching his neck.  Leonardo’s love for animals was well known by his contemporaries.

James Constable also points out, “This plate may also contain one of the earliest engraved self-portraits of the artist, Leonardo Da Vinci.”

Was Leonardo merely curious as to how many optical illusions he could cram into one composition?  In that case, the engraving would represent a master’s experiment in the application of optic theory.  Was he in fact merely doodling and letting his imagination and defiant ego go wild?  Perhaps, he was harboring hatred for the Church and its doctrine and sought an artistic way to include his thoughts and Gnostic beliefs in the composition.  We must remember that artists were prohibited from exercising freedom of interpretation and expression in their works by decree of the Council of Trent in the 13th century:  “No image shall be set up which is suggestive of false doctrine or which may furnish an occasion of dangerous error to the uneducated”.  As a result, Leonardo was very careful not to make his more heretical beliefs obvious.

Or then again, had Da Vinci become like John Nash, played by Russell Crowe, in the movie “Beautiful Mind”, who fell off the deep end and was swallowed up by an ocean of subconscious imagery including demons?  I do not have a list of all the catalogued elements and illusionistic images, but of the thirty or more that I drew out of the composition, I suspect Leonardo had digressed into some darker self at least temporality until he could gather his senses and return to his normal state of genius.  In a state not unlike a manic or psychotic episode, Leonardo perhaps became compelled and even obsessed to create and make sense of the imagery that was flooding his mind, imagery previous embedded in the depths of his subconscious.  Whatever this episode was about or what induced it, we will never know.  But those on a path of spiritual enlightenment sometimes experience periods of psychological dismemberment before becoming enlightened to the divine. With his paintings Salvator Mundi and Magdalene/Madonna and Christ with John the BaptistLeonardo seems to have re-embraced Christ later in life.

Related articles:;_ylt=A0LEVya48K5VdXoAVzNXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEyb2FzczlrBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMyBHZ0aWQDQjAwMjhfMQRzZWMDc2M-



Copyright reserved Ariadne Green 2015

The Copycat Gospel of Judas


The following article I wrote back in 2007 after a dream I had about the Gospel of Judas.  At the time of the dream, the discovery had just been made public and I rushed to order my copy of the book edited by Rodolphe Kasser and Marvin Meyer.  In the dream, I saw the printed words:  ”Copy Cat Gospel”.


A “Copycat” Gospel–The Gospel of Judas

“We now know it is an authentic Coptic text” summed up the National Geographic testimony on the authenticity of the Lost Gospel of Judas unveiled in May of 2006. But is it an authentic gospel?

Some questions immediately arose in my mind after reading the Gospel of Judas. How is it that so many varied elements from so large a number of different Gnostic texts find their way (packed tightly I must add) into this one document consisting of only 13 pieces of papyrus? Also why is it that the Gospel of Judas appeared also to be saturated with key phrases familiar to the four canonical Gospels that could be immediately recognized as Jesus’ idioms? After a dream in which it was conveyed that the gospel was a “copycat”, I decided to take a closer look.

I must mention that I am not a scholar on Gnosticism, although I have done some research on Gnosticism and had read the tractates of the Nag Hammadi Library several times. When the Gospel of Judas was unveiled on the National Geographic Special, I had just completed some research on Gnosticism for a new book and, therefore, the material was fresh in my mind.

Scholars who initially studied the translations of the Gospel of Judas have presumed that like many of the other Gnostic writers of the time, the author of the Gospel of Judas used the pseudonym of one of the disciples, in this case Judas, in order to convey his own Gnostic ideologies and gain acceptance amongst his peers and Christian community. But why would the author draw from so many varied Gnostic writings and at the same time mimic the narrative style of the 4 canonical gospels? Who wrote this gospel? A ‘copycat scribe’? I wondered if the author had the other texts on the table in front of him as he composed the gospel, as it seemed to me that he must have? One might of course argue that it was after all written by a Gnostic writer and therefore would hold similarity in its spiritual language, philosophy and doctrine to other essays of the period. However, after close examination, it did not so much resemble a reiteration of a doctrine of faith but appeared more a foolish and poorly constructed plagiarism of content compiled from too large a number and variety of sacred Gnostic texts from different schools–a patched together work.

I wish to offer my analysis, examining pieces of the translation text of the Gospel of Judas that I compare to each tractate (essay) or gospel that the elements were obviously borrowed from to prove my point.

The Introduction

Strikingly, similar to the opening of the Gospel of Thomas the Gospel of Judas begins,

“The secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot during a week three days before he celebrated Passover.”

Compare to the Gospel of Thomas,

“These are the Secret words that the living Jesus spoke and Didymus Judas Thomas wrote down.”

I suggest that the opening of Judas was modeled after the Gospel of Thomas.

The Chosen Disciple

Again modeling after the Gospel of Thomas in which Jesus takes Thomas aside, the Gospel of Judas presents an identical scenario. Judas is taken aside and favored by Jesus to receive the secret mysteries of the Kingdom. Jesus says,

“Let any one of you who is strong enough among human beings bring out the perfect human and stand before my face.”

None of the other disciples dares to stand, except for Judas and he is taken aside. Judas said to him, “I know who you are and where you have come from.”

This narrative bares similarity to Saying 13 of the Gospel of Thomas, in which Jesus takes Thomas aside after he replies to Jesus’ following request,

“Compare me to someone and tell me whom I am like.”

Thomas’ reply is,

“Master my mouth is incapable of saying whom you are like.” 

Conversely, Judas’ statement in the Gospel of Judas is,

“I know who you are and where you have come from. You are from the immortal realm of Barbelo. And I am not worthy to utter the name of the one who has sent you.”

Judas like Thomas is taken aside and is given secret teachings in private. And in both gospels the other disciples were characterized as rising to anger and jealousy.

It appears clear that Gospel of Judas used elements of Thomas to construct its dialogue. Why, who and for what reason would someone construct a Gospel to mimic the Gospel of Thomas? The question needs further exploration.

The Child Image

The Gospel of Judas tells us that Jesus often appeared to the disciples as a child. Where is it that this characterization of Jesus also appears? It is in The Apocryphon of John in the opening of a long revelation delivered by the resurrected Christ who first appears to John in a vision as a child and changes into two other likenesses, an old man and a servant. The description reads,

“I was afraid, and behold I saw in the light a youth who stood by me.”

In the Apocalypse of Paul this youthful image of the risen Christ is replicated as the child spirit that speaks and accompanies Paul.

The Laughing Jesus

In the Gospel of Judas, Jesus bursts into laughter in response to the disciple’s prayer of Thanksgiving and later in response to Judas’ questions. The first scene opens,

“When he [approached] his disciples,[34] gathered together and seated and offering a prayer of thanksgiving over the bread, [he] laughed.”

When the disciples ask him why he is laughing he mocks their worship suggesting they are worshiping a false God.

This image of the laughing Jesus is not one familiar to the four gospels of the New Testament, in fact in the Gospel of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John Jesus never laughs once. Where is it that this altogether different characterization of Jesus also found? It is found in both the Apocalypse of Peter and The Second Treatise of The Great Seth, two separate revelation dialogues that are both Gnostic in their philosophies.

The Apocalypse of Peter reads,
“And I (Peter) said: ‘What do I see, O Lord, that it is you yourself whom they take, and that you are grasping me? Or who is this one, glad and laughing on the tree? And is it another one whose feet and hands they are striking?”

It goes on,

The Savior said to me: ‘He whom you saw on the tree, glad and laughing, this is the living Jesus, But this one into whose hands and feet they drive the nails is his fleshly part, which is the substitute being put to shame, the one who came into being in his likeness.” (NHL-377/VII, 3 81,6-25)

In the Second Treatise of The Great Seth the laughing image is similarly conveyed,

‘Yes, they saw me; they punished me. It was another, their father, who drank the gall and the vinegar; it was not I. They struck me with the reed; it was another, Simon, who bore the cross on his shoulder. I was another upon whom they placed the crown of thorns. But I was rejoicing in the height over all the wealth of the archons and the offspring of their error, of their empty glory. And I was laughing at their ignorance.” (NHL-365/VII, 2 56,4-19)

As we notice, the “laughing Jesus” in the Gospel of Judas mimics the characterization portrayed in the two tractates, however the Gospel of Judas, in contrast, is not a revelatory essay but rather more the kind of narrative story we find in the four canonical gospels, depicting three days in the life of Jesus. The laughing portrait in the other two treatises are that of an enlightened resurrected Jesus who appears to John in a vision and laughs because he has transcended out of the ignorance of the human generation having been reborn to his spirit form. In the GJ the laughing portrait is put within a literal context and depicts Jesus in an unflattering light, mocking his disciples. What was the motivation of the writer in portraying Jesus laughing at his disciples? Perhaps, it was to portray him as arrogant and dispassionate.

Familiar sayings, language usage and metaphors

Compare Judas:

When Jesus heard this, he laughed and said to them,“Why are you thinking in your hearts about the strong and holy generation?”

to Luke 5:22,

Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? “ 

The phrase either parodies Luke or more likely uses the phrase to establish a facade of authenticity by replicating the language in Luke.

“Truly, I say to you.”

“Truly, I say to you,” a recognizable phrase from the four canonical gospels, is repeated six times in the narrative dialogue between Jesus and Judas in the GJ. My question was: Why would the author use this familiar phrase with such repetition in his dialogue between Jesus and Judas? The answer of course is that it was also used in repetition in the Gospels of Matthew and John. In John 3:1-21, ESV, the phrase, “Truly, truly, I say to you” is repeated a total of 25 times. In Matthew, it appears as “Truly I say to you,” exactly as it appears in GJ. Altogether the phrase is used a total of 50 times in the four gospels, Mark, Luke, Matthew and John. The reason for the parroting seems obvious: The writer of GJ wished his gospel to appear authentic. By using the familiar phrase in a repetitive fashion just as it appears in the other Gospels he might convince his audience that his gospel was an actual account of Jesus’ interaction with his disciples.

Underdeveloped familiar parable metaphors

As an attempt to replicate or emulate some of allegorical flavor of Jesus’ language we find metaphoric bits and pieces scattered here and there that add little meaning or wisdom to the “good news” of the Gospel of Judas. For instance, in response to Judas question

“Rabbi, what kind of fruit does this generation produce. And what will the rest of the human generations do?” 

Jesus said, “It is impossible to sow seed on rock and harvest its fruit.”

Undoubtedly, the “sowing seed on rock” metaphor was inserted to appeal to an audience already familiar with the “Seed Sowing” parable, found not only in the canonical Gospels, but also in the Gospel of Thomas. However, it is used in a totally new context and its usage struck me as odd and out of place as if it was merely inserted to add the language and flavor of Jesus’ teachings in Mark.

Another example of a metaphor with an altered meaning appears in the section titled Jesus Offers an Allegorical Interpretation of the Vision of the Temple. I t reads,

“A baker cannot feed all creation under heaven.”

The metaphorical phrase stands out as the only decipherable sentence in the passage, as the 15 lines before it are conveniently missing from the Codex and those beneath are mere fragments mostly pronouns and conjunctions. It is interesting to me that this one complete sentence survived out of 16 or so lines. Without a context this metaphor is pretty meaningless of course, however standing on its own it lacks the kind of mystery and meaning that is ever-present in Jesus allegories and parables. For instance, compare it to Saying 96 in the Gospel of Thomas:

“The Kingdom of the Father is like a woman who took a little leaven, hid it in dough and made it into large loaves.”

The baker in Thomas’ allegory has hidden a mystery in the dough that multiplies its volume, conveying the same mystery and principle of abundance as the parable of the mustard seed, a mystery Jesus made manifest in performing the miracle on the Mount in feeding the multitudes. In comparison, Judas’ baker appears unenlightened and even ignorant of manifestation of God’s kingdom. His baker cannot feed creation, where as in the Thomas saying he can. The author of the Gospel of Judas either lacked spiritual understanding and insight or was deliberately attempting to counter or discredit the accounts of the miracles of manifestation that Jesus performed. Or even perhaps to say that God, as the baker, is inferior to our image of God.

Obviously, the author of this Gospel could not replicate the wisdom that Jesus was so masterfully able to put into parable form. The question I raise is then why should he try? What was he hoping to accomplish? My premise is that these elements were deliberately inserted to mimic other gospels and tractates” an attempt to fool the author’s audience. Who was the author’s audience? Gnostic students of his time? Or, I suggest perhaps readers of the 21st century?

Gnostic Elements and Terms.

Like the other Gnostic tractates the Gospel of Judas is saturated with Gnostic terms, names and descriptions of cosmological archons such as: aeon, “self-generated one” (autogenes), Sophia, Zoe, Bardelo and “Lord of the Universe” that make up the complex cosmology of Gnostic doctrine. For this reason, most scholars thus far have identified it with the Sethian Gnostic School, more specifically likely Christian Sethian.

For instance, there are several names for the archons and for God in the Gospel of Judas that are pulled from a variety of the Gnostic tractates in the Nag Hammadi Library. One is the term “Lord of the Universe”. Because “EL”, was used as the name for God in another passage, I wondered why the author chose to depart from the other usages by stating this alternative name. It struck me as oddly placed and I did not immediately recognize the term from the Sethian material. However, because I was following the premise that the Gospel was a “copycat”, I began combing through the various essays, by this time knowing I would find the term used somewhere amongst the tractates in the Nag Hammadi Library. My search for this name for God ended with The Sophia of Jesus Christ and The Eugnotos The Blessed, two tractates that are nearly identical and commonly seen as two versions of the same essay.

They read,

The Lord of the Universe is not rightly called “Father” but “Forefather.” For the Father is the beginning (or principle) of what is visible. For he the Lord is the beginningless Forefather.” Eugnostos The Blessed”III 74-75.

In scanning over all the essays in the Nag Hammadi Library, I found no other Gnostic essay that used “Lord of the Universe” to describe God. Therefore it was a term used only by one other author. Considering this fact, it appears that the author of GJ had deliberately padded and patched together his document with as many names and terms gathering them from as many Gnostic essays as possible, often neglecting the fact that some of the essays represented different schools of thought from different periods. Again, what was the likely reason for this? It seems reasonable to conclude that the author thought the authenticity might come under question and he wanted to leave as little doubt as possible that his gospel matched the language of a variety of Gnostic writers. But in doing so, he neglected that a reader may view this over saturation and padding of terms from so many different Gnostic writers as highly suspicious.

cont. on next column….. 

cont. ….. 


Some similarities are obvious plagiarisms. Like many of the Gnostic authors, the author of Gospel of Judas offers explanations of the nature of the Cosmos and the creation of the heavens earth and man, including the bodies of angels, divine emanations of the Father and the archons (rulers). Again it appears that the author had in hand the other Gnostic tractates to draw from, rather than relying on any revelation of his own.

As an example, the section Adama and The Luminaries, appears to have derived its material from the Apocalypse of James in which the enumeration of 72 is also given to the heavens.

The Gospel of Judas reads,

“The twelve aeons of the twelve luminaries constitute their father with six heavens for each aeon, so that there are seventy-two heavens for the seventy-two luminaries, and for each of them five firmaments, for a total of three hundred and sixty firmaments.”

With respect to the seventy-two heavens, I found only one tractate that it could have been drawn from, the Apocalypse of James.

Compare the paragraph of Gospel of Judas above with the Apocalypse of James, which reads:

The lord said, “These are the seventy-two heavens, which are their subordinates. These are powers of all their might; and they were established by them; and these are they who were distributed everywhere, existing under the authority of the twelve archons.”

William Schoedel, the translator of the Apocalypse of James speculated that the enumeration of 72 heavens may have been drawn from esoteric Jewish teachings of gematria which offer the number 72 as the number drawn from the word for God, YHVH.

The Mysterious Nebro

“And look from the cloud there appeared an [angel] whose face flashed with fire and whose appearance was defiled with blood. His name was Nebro, which means “rebel” others call him Yaldabaoth.” –Gospel of Judas

The mysterious name Nebro posed some difficulty, as I had not recognized him as any of the Gnostic archons nor aeons. In the Gospel of Judas, Nebro is the first mentioned as one of twelve angels created to rule over the Chaos and the Underworld. We are told that his name means rebel and that he is also known as Yaldaboath. In the Apocryphon of John. the Demiurge has the name “Yaltabaoth”, and proclaims himself as God.

After combing the various tractates of the Nag Hammadi searching for the reference source of the lineage of the five angels, Galia, Yobel, Harmathroth, and Adonaios, mentioned in the GJ I stumbled upon the name “Nebruel” amongst the list of the other angels in the Gospel of the Egyptians (III, 2 and IV, 2). I went to bed wondering what the difference in spelling (Nebro versus Nebruel) suggested? I woke up with a dream in which I was reading a sentence with the nouns “EL” and “Nebro” highlighted. Because “El” is a Hebrew word for God, I thought the writer had deliberately removed the suffix “el” from the name perhaps to suggest Nebruel was not a god or to support the premise that Jesus had rejected the God of the Jews. It seemed a deliberate change of the spelling whatever the reason for it. Of course, if working off the assumption that GJ was a legitimate Coptic document, one merely might think the omission of “el” was the result of a translation error or mispelling.

In The Gospel of the Egyptian there is a recounting of the creation of the rulers over Hades (the Underworld). Sophia emerges with the angel Gabriel and brings forth two monads. It reads,

“Then the cloud, being agreeable, came forth in the two monads, each one of which had light. [...} the throne, which she had placed in the cloud above. Then Sakla, the great angel, saw the great demon who is with him, Nebruel. And they became together a begetting spirit of the earth. They begot assisting angels."

When further comparing the Gospel of Judas with the Gospel of the Egyptian, the plagiarism is noticeable. The GJ derives its material on the The Cosmos, Chaos, and the Underworld and The Rulers and Angels from the Gospel of the Egyptians almost verbatim.

For instance, the GJ states,

"The twelve rulers spoke with the twelve angels: "Let each ofyou...and let them generation [lost line] angels:
The first is Seth, who is called Christ.
The [second] is Harmathoth, who is [ ]
The third is Galiala.
The fourth is Yobel.
The fifth [is] Adonaios.

Compare to Gospel of the Egyptian, 58

“Each one of [these] twelve [angel]went [forth. The first] angel is Athoth, He is the one whom the great generations of men call [The] second is Harmas, who is the eye of the fire. The third [Galila. The] fourth is Yobel. The fifth is Adonaios, who is [called] Sabaoth”.

The author of the Gospel of Judas appears to have copied most of the lineage from the Gospel of the Egyptian. The slight difference (spellings mostly) might have been deliberate, reminding me of the plagiaristic style of a junior high school student writing a book report from crib notes and making a couple of adjustments.


From this brief analysis what should be obvious is that the author of The Gospel of Judas was a “Copy Cat” if not a complete fraud. I pose the question, “Who wrote this gospel and for what purpose?” It seems obvious that the author had at least six Gnostic essays on the table as he or she constructed the Gospel of Judas, as well as, the four canonical Gospels to draw style and phrases from. The list is as follows:

1.The Apocryphon of John and the Apocalypse of Paul- for the image of Jesus as a child.

2.Gospel of Thomas- for its theme of the “Chosen Disciple” and similar language.

3. Apocalypse of James- for the cosmological model and the 72 heavens

4. Sophia of Jesus and The Eugnotos The Blessed - term for God, “The Lord of the Universe”.

5. Apocalypse of Peter and The Second Treatise of The Great Seth-for the “Laughing Jesus”.

6. The Book of the Egyptians- for its list of the angels and cosmology

7. John and Matthew for the phrase “Truly I say to you.”

8. Luke- for the idiom, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?”

Was this the doing of a “copycat” Gnostic scribe who wanted recognition from his Gnostic peers? Certainly, other gospel writers drew from each other’s writing to some extent, but none to the extent of the Gospel of Judas. Why would the author go to such length to over pad the Gospel with phrases and language familiar to the 4 canonical Gospels? There would be no need as his peers were Gnostics.

If the papyrus had not been carbon dated by reputable scientists one might suspect it to be a more modern fraud? But suppose the tiny fragment tested was a second century substitute and not from the Gospel of Judas papyrus at all?  The scientist would not be able to read Coptic to identify what he was testing. And further suppose that there was a group who conspired to forge the document, perhaps after acquiring 13 pieces of ancient papyrus on which they set about to write in Coptic a cleverly constructed gospel drawing material from a variety of Gnostic essays. Their gospel would be padded with like terms of Gnostic doctrine, a mix a soup aimed at creating a controversy and upsetting the applecart of Christian faith. Since there are only a handful of Coptic experts on the planet, the field would be quite narrow.

Their motivation: Money, notoriety, a sense of pride in fooling a load of people including reputable scholars and as I mentioned the fulfillment of a conspirator’s dream of dismantling Christian ideology. One commentator wrote of the Gospel of Judas, that not since the discovery of the Gospel of Thomas had there arrived a document that was likely to turn the Christian world on its head. Perhaps this was the hope of conspirators– to embarrass the Church with an altogether different portrayal of Jesus Christ, one so contrary to Christian ideology that it would make at least some people ponder which depiction of Jesus was accurate.

The depiction of Jesus in Gospel of Judas is unflattering to say the least. He seems a bit insane, portrayed as a suicidal mystic who would conspire in his own crucifixion to escape the world he came to convert. He lacks humility, mocking his disciple’s faith and appears dispassionate. It is true that Gnostics, as seekers of truth, were like many New Age spiritualists of this era wishing to explain a world of suffering, corruption and greed and applying ritual and other spiritual practices as a means of transcendence of the material. Their philosophy was derived from revelations and transcendent experiences that awarded them wisdom and “Gnosis”, the ultimate truth. And they believed that true transcendence could not be achieved while in the body. The Gnostics perhaps were the first Christians who were later deemed heretics by the competing Paulists. We know that there did exist a Gospel of Judas, because Irenaeus mentioned it for its heretical content. However, Irenaeus gave no detailed account of what the gospel said.

To suggest that the Gospel of Judas survived and was bought on the antiquities market, restored, and translated just in the nick of time to ride on the coat tails of the Da Vinci Code seems convenient. Furthermore, no proof other than hearsay was given as to the location of the discovery as no dealer would come forward nor could he be traced. We know nothing about where this so called “authentic” Coptic text was really unearthed, although the public was taken on a fictionalized journey to Egypt to show how it could have been unearthed. I found the documentary almost as manipulative, divisive, and deceptive as the text itself.

Whichever theory as to the authorship of the Gospel of Judas, Gnostic scribe or conspiracy, is most plausible is up for grabs. I would be in favor of a thorough re-examination and comparative analysis of the texts by a few scholars not associated with the original team as well as another carbon testing of the real document.

–Copyright Ariadne Green, 2006–

If you have comments regarding this article email:

Back to Jesus Mary Joseph Book site >>> 



6th Century Shroud Shines Light on Gospel of Thomas


Apostle and Gospel of Thomas


Shroud Proves The Gospel of Thomas (Jesus’ authentic sayings) Was Circulating Well Into The 5th or 6th Centuries.  

Despite being deemed a gnostic heresy, The Gospel of Thomas was well-circulated among the Christian communities of the 1st and 2nd centuries.  We know this because all four of the canonical Gospels as well as a large number of gnostic apocrypha reference or contain parallels of these mystical sayings. In fact, 22 of the sayings have parallels in Mark, leading many scholars and myself to conclude it pre-dated Mark. Now, as it turns out, there is evidence that it was still circulating as late as the 5th or 6th century. A portion of Saying 5 GTh, “There is Nothing Buried that Will Not Be Raised”, turned up written on a funerary shroud from the 5th or 6th century in Oxyrhynchus, Egypt. The shroud was acquired in 1953 by Mr. R. Rémondon from a local antiquarian and dated by H-Ch. Puech.

AnnMarie Luijendijk, a professor of religion at Princeton who collaborated with Karen King on the Jesus’ Wife Papyrus and who recently published her book, Forbidden Oracle” The Gospel of Lots of Mary, has written a paper on the shroud discovery. I post it here as well as a link to my own article, The Secret Sayings of Jesus, in which I make the bold statement that Jesus himself wrote the Gospel attributed to Thomas the twin.,%20Late%20Antique%20Shroud%20with%20Gospel%20of%20Thomas%20zac.2011.20.pdf

Luijendijk says, “We know from papyrological evidence that the Gospel of Thomas was read in Oxyrhynchus in the third century. But what happened later? Was that still the case in subsequent centuries? Despite the forceful exclusion of the Gospel of Thomas from the New Testament canon by church leaders, I argue that this funerary bandage hints that the Gospel of Thomas was still in use and considered ritually effective in the Oxyrhynchite community well into Late Antiquity.”

The text below found on the linen shroud fragment from Oxyrhynchus is an interesting parallel with logion 5 of the Gospel of Thomas.

Funeral Shroud

Jesus said, “Nothing is buri
ed, which will not be raised.”

Compare to Logion 5 of the Gospel of Thomas (Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 654, 27-31):

POxy 654, 27-31: (5) Jesus says, “K[now what is be]fore your face, and [that which is hidden] from you will be reveal[ed to you. For there i]s nothing hidden which will not [be made] mani[fest] and (nothing) buried which will not [be raised up]” (Cf.NHC II, 33: 10-14).

Coptic version translation Saying 5 GTh: 5. Jesus said, “Know what is in front of your face, and what is hidden from you will be disclosed to you. For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed. [And there is nothing buried that will not be raised.]”

Interestingly, we can apply Saying 5 to our own struggle to comprehend the mystical teachings and tenets found in the 114 sayings of the Gospel of Thomas.  Firstly, we must know what is in front of our face: Jesus authentic gospel which was composed by him.  And secondly, that the hidden meanings will be disclosed to those who walk the path of Gnosis and who contemplate the hidden meaning of the sayings.

The Secret Sayings of Jesus by Ariadne Green

Back to my book site>> 



Jesus’ Wife Papyrus Proves the Importance of the Gospel of Thomas



It is settled! The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife is an authentic 4th - 7th century snippet of Coptic text that was probably written in the 2nd century at a time when other Gnostic writers were putting forward their alternative beliefs. And yes, the ink is ancient to match the ancient papyrus, therefore proving the gospel was not a modern forgery and hoax as argued by the majority of scholars who stepped forward in 2012 when the news of discovery was first made public by Dr. King and the Smithsonian.  The scientific findings have just been published in the Harvard Theological Review.

Now after two years of waiting for the authentication process to conclude, many are asking, “What does this eight line Coptic document prove?”

It proves that a 2nd century Christian writer believed Mary Magdalene was Jesus’ wife, worthy to be his disciple and even more importantly someone necessary to Jesus’ spiritual evolution  (achievement of gnosis). Some of these points were introduced in Karen King’s draft analysis and discussion of the eight lines that make up the Jesus’s Wife Papyrus. I hope more is revealed in her final paper.

Secondly, it proves once again that the Gospel of Thomas was used as a source or springboard by early Christian writers and was at the time considered an authoritative testimony of the words and sayings of Jesus Christ.  Undoubtedly, some scholars may even conclude that the small piece of papyrus may represent a fragment of another version of the Gospel of Thomas. I would not go that far as yet.

There is considerable evidence to suggest that the Gospel of Thomas was well circulated and highly regarded during the 1st and 2nd centuries, enough so that the other gospel writers, in fact, drew from the sayings of the Gospel of Thomas when composing their own narratives about Jesus’ ministry. For instance, of the 114 sayings in the Gospel of Thomas, 21 or more, in one form or another, are found in Mark, usually redacted or reshaped and adapted into an embellished narrative.  The sayings were put into a context of his public ministry.

The author of GJW clearly drew from Thomas sayings 101 and 114 and used them as a springboard to set forth the contention that Mary Magdalene, as Jesus’ wife, was worthy of discipleship.  In a dialogue between Jesus and his disciples, modeled in the style of Thomas, The Gospel of Jesus Wife reads,

1) not [to] me. My mother gave to me li[fe]…

2) The disciples said to Jesus, “…3) … deny. Mary is worthy of it … (or, alternatively, Mary is not worth of it …)

4) …” Jesus said to them, “My wife …

5) … she will be able to be my disciple …

6) Let wicked people swell up …

7) As for me, I dwell with her in order to …

8) … an image …

A bit of my early analysis….

The first decipherable and meaningful line in the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife is recognizable to those familiar with the Gospel of Thomas.  It reads: “My mother gave to me li[fe]…” Compare to GTh saying 101,

“Whoever does not hate [father] and mother as I do cannot be my [disciple], and whoever does [not] love [father and] mother as I do cannot be my [disciple]. For my mother [...], but my true [mother] gave me life.”

The paradox in this Thomas saying on the subject of hate and love is resolved by the last phrase, “but my true mother gave me life.”

In the Gospel of Thomas, God is identified as the “true Mother” and the passage implies that loyalty to one’s own biological family must give way to a greater love and faith in the one who gave birth to our spirit, a life-giving God who is both Mother and Father. In Thomas, not only is God life-giving but is also life sustaining, producing miracles of bounty. Saying 96 compares God to a woman baker:

“Jesus said, “The kingdom of the father is like a certain woman. She took a little leaven, concealed it in some dough, and made it into large loaves. Let him who has ears hear.” –GTh 96.

The majority of the 8 lines of GJW seem to be a response of agreement with Thomas saying 114, declaring Mary Magdalene’s worthiness to be a full-fledged disciple.  In GJW, the disciples are in agreement of Mary’s worthiness whereas in saying 114 of the Gospel of Thomas Peter rebukes Mary.  The Gospel of Thomas reads,

Simon Peter said to him, “Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of life.” 
Jesus said, “I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the kingdom of heaven.”—Saying 114 GTh.

Here Peter expresses a misogynistic attitude towards Mary that is rebuked by Jesus with a tone of sarcasm.  Jesus explains that any woman willing to spiritually transform, to be reborn (become a “living spirit”), unify the male and female within and stand up like a man is worthy of the Kingdom. The Jesus in both the GTh and GJW was in favor of the equality of women.

In the GJW version, instead of earning the keys to the Kingdom, Mary is worthy of discipleship, a status of honor amongst a group made up primarily of men.  If we read between the lines, the author of GJW seems to be reconciling the dissension that began in Thomas.  According to Gnostic tradition, discipleship implied the individual would be initiated into the mysteries of gnosis and would prepare for his/her own ministry.  In this case, Mary would have been viewed a high-ranking Gnostic priestess.

According to GJW, Jesus also derives something spiritual from his relationship with Mary that is beyond companionship and the conjugal pleasures of having a wife.   He gains entrance into a mystery that he would not be able to achieve if he did not “dwell with” her.   The use of the term “image” in the last line (line 8) of GJW is one defined and elaborated on in the Gospel of Philip.  It refers to the mystery of the sacred marriage in the Bridal Chamber—the Bridal Chamber mystery.

The Gospel of Philip, the same gospel that mentions Jesus often kissed Mary on the mouth, tells us:  “Great is the mystery of marriage! For without it, the world would not exist. Now the existence of the world [...], and the existence of [...] marriage. Think of the [...] relationship, for it possesses [...] power. Its image consists of a defilement.”

The Gospel of Philip also uses the Gospel of Thomas as the authoritative word of Jesus. As an example, Philip quotes a portion of saying 22 in Thomas,

“The Lord did everything in a mystery, a baptism and a chrism and a eucharist and a redemption and a bridal chamber. [...] he said, “I came to make the things below like the things above, and the things outside like those inside. I came to unite them in the place.” [...] here through types [...]and images.”

When we consider how many gospels relied on Thomas as a source, both canonical and those considered gnostic apocryphal writings, we recognize how important the Gospel of Thomas was to early Christianity.  In addition to the Canonical Gospels (Mark, Luke, Matthew and John), parallels are found in the following Gnostic gospels: The Gospel of Mary, The Gospel of Judas, The Gospel of Philip, Thomas the Contender, Hymn of the Pearl and the Dialogue of the Savior.  And now with the discovery of GJW, another gospel can to added to this long list.  Although, a large number of New Testament scholars suggest the Gospel of Thomas was composed during the 2nd century, the fact that Mark relied heavily on the sayings as a source of Jesus’ words makes this late date impossible.  We know the Gospel of Mark was composed in about 60 AD.  And there is little in the sayings of Thomas to suggest that the author had any knowledge of the four Canonical Gospels.  Because of this fact, some scholars such as Helmut Koester of Harvard and John Dominic Crossan, noted scholar of The Jesus Seminars, suggest it was written early, between 30 AD and 60 AD. They suggest it born out of an oral tradition, an idea that seems difficult to imagine in light of the complexity of the verbose sayings, aphorisms and wisdom in the parables.  And if it were penned by an independent author, then it would seem his wisdom exceeded that of the Jesus of the New Testament.  The wisdom in the sayings is of such a profound philosophical and mystical nature that the sayings stand out as the writing of a teacher whose wisdom transcended this world, someone who had touched the divine and was a teacher himself.  Then how were the sayings of Thomas composed and by who?  Could the sayings have been penned by Jesus himself?

For more on this topic, a chapter of my new book Jesus Mary Joseph: The Secret Legacy of Jesus and Mary Magdalene is devoted to examining the Gospel of Thomas.

Relevant Links: New tests show no evidence of forgery in ancient papyrus


About the author: Ariadne Green is a spiritual scholar and author of four book including: Jesus Mary Joseph and Ariadne’s Book of Dreams, Warner Books, 2001.  Ariadne can be contacted at:





Jesus Mary Joseph! Can It Be True?

The official launch of my book, Jesus Mary Joseph: The Secret Legacy of Jesus and Mary Magdalene has commenced with the book’s publication in paperback 2 weeks ago. And I am just about ready to send out a press release that is sure to raise some eyebrows.

From my press release – 4/03/2014

“The truth is not hard to kill and a lie well told is immortal.”—Mark Twain

As the idiomatic exclamatory title Jesus Mary Joseph! remarks, Ariadne Green’s latest book on the legacy of Jesus and Mary Magdalene is sure to cause everyone to pause and ask:  Can it be true?

According to author, Ariadne Green, in approximately 1215, a Cistercian monk sat in the scriptorium of a monastery in France and with quill in hand commenced to write La Queste del Saint Graal, the Quest of the Holy Grail.   But it was not entirely a piece of romantic fiction.  He wrote it to mythologize the history of the Knights Templar, founding members of an Order who held secrets (“many confidences of the Lord”) and who were connected by blood to the throne of King David through one Joseph of Arimathea.  In the history of the three chief tables and the descriptions of the mystery of the Holy Grail, this Cistercian mythmaker hid clues to a number of profound secrets that only a handful in his Order knew anything about.  What secrets?   For one, Joseph of Arimathea, the guardian of the Grail, was really Jesus Christ.

Other authors such as the late Michael Baigent and Laurence Gardner had previously presented a thesis Jesus had survived the crucifixion, but none could pinpoint and substantiate Jesus’ whereabouts after the 33 AD date. A series of questionable identities and impossible histories for Joseph of Arimathea, some of them from apocryphal legend, have led some religious scholars such as John Crossan of the Jesus Seminars and Dennis R. MacDonald, a professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at the Claremont School of Theology, to conclude his character in the Gospels was purely fiction, perhaps modeled after Priam in Homer’s Iliad.  But Ariadne believes Joseph’s character was incorporated into gospel accounts because his ministry in Gaul had been deemed significant enough to warrant his inclusion as a “secret disciple” in the resurrection story.

How was the discovery of Joseph of Arimathea’s true identity made?

Ariadne Green, a renowned dream expert and author of four books, says her own dreams were the earliest source of revelation.  In the book, Ariadne recounts a number of dreams that offered clues to not only Jesus’ secret identity and pieces of the exile story but to the significance of Mary Magdalene’s presence at the crucifixion.  Apparently, Mary Magdalene’s status as a Hasmonean and the promise of material wealth was all it took to convince a Roman centurion to bring Jesus off the cross.  Mary Magdalene, the Goddess in the Gospels, was in fact Jesus’ savior, not the other way around.

Ariadne says that the facts presented in her dreams sounded so preposterous that she wouldn’t accept them as true without proof.  She spent years pouring over legends from the South of France, Glastonbury, Ireland and Scotland and researching Templar history and the mythic quests for the Holy Grail looking for a shred of proof that Joseph of Arimathea was, in fact, Jesus Christ.  But it wasn’t until she received a flurry of repetitive synchronistic signs, highlighting the word “map”, that she discovered what she was looking for.  Bizarrely, the word “map” did not refer to cartographic map but was pointing her towards a particular grail romance, La Queste del Saint Graal written by the Cistercians, but attributed to one “Walter Map”.  What Ariadne found within the pages was all the proof she needed to commence writing, Jesus Mary Joseph:  The Secret Legacy of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.

Ariadne cites, as one of her examples, a passage from La Queste del Saint Graal which she points out mimics the narrative of Mark 8:8 in which Jesus multiplies the loaves of bread to feed a crowd of 4000 men.  Only in the Grail myth, it is Joseph of Arimathea who performs the same miracle.

“One day they had nothing to eat, but an old woman brought them twelve loaves, which Joseph cut in pieces, and the Holy Graal made them sufficient for the 4000 people.” 

Ariadne explains, this passage along with the others were woven into the story of Galahad and his quest for the Holy Grail to preserve a secret legacy and tradition held by the Knights Templar and Cistercians as well as those elite who claimed a dynastic blood inheritance from the throne of King David, the second king of Israel.

Beyond supporting the controversial theory that Mary Magdalene was Jesus’ wife, Ariadne establishes the premise that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were divine complements (soulmates) and that they incarnated with a mutual destiny and had an equality of purpose.  Their mission and ministry spanned over 60 years as they gathered and initiated disciples throughout Gaul, Britain and Ireland.  Rather than evangelizing, Joseph (Jesus) and Mary Magdalene were more focused on initiating disciples into a profound mystery called bridal chamber and lighting a path of self-realization—gnosis. Their teachings became the doctrine and tenets of Valentinian Gnosticism and Ariadne offers astonishing evidence that this Gnostic sect existed during the Middle Ages as an underground stream of Christianity.  As a matter of fact, members of the royal family of France in the 14thcentury were amongst its followers.

About the Author: Ariadne Green is the author of four books including Ariadne’s Book of Dreams, Warner Books, 2001. She holds a Masters degree in Educational Psychology from Cal State Hayward and completed two years of doctoral coursework in Consciousness Studies and Philosophy of Psychology at Saybrook Institute in San Francisco.

Jesus Mary Joseph:  The Secret Legacy of Jesus and Mary Magdalene is now available on Amazon in paperback and ebook (Kindle) formats.

To read more about Jesus Mary Joseph, visit Ariadne’s website:

Book Available now on Amazon Kindle


Contact Ariadne Green at:


Happy Birthday Jesus – Virtual Party – March 23rd – 27th – Free Book Promotion



To celebrate Jesus’ real birthday on March 23rd, I am hosting a virtual birthday party on Facebook.  Come one, come all.

Jesus was born at 2:26 a.m. March 23, 7 BC, in a small town in the Galilee, not Bethlehem. His birth in the early morning hours of the Vernal Equinox would have been a momentous sign heralding a rebirth and renewal for the consciousness of the community.  And in the year of a triple conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, signaling to most the birth of a Messiah, the timing appears to have been perfectly orchestrated.  Because Jesus’ sun was at 29 degrees Pisces transitioning into the cardinal sign of Aries in a matter of only six hours, we should consider him as an “ingress Aries” rather than a Pisces. Born on the cusp, his sun was entering the first sign (Alpha) of the Zodiac, Aries, while at the same time leaving the last sign (Omega), Pisces.  Hence, new meaning can be derived from the proclamation, “I am the Alpha and the Omega”— Revelations 1:8.

With Aries as his stronger identification Jesus’ natural temperament and personality would be characterized as strong-willed and head strong, yet still sensitive, a Pisces trait.  The sun in a man’s natal chart drives his personality and represents his strongest ego identification.  Therefore, he would have been driven toward self-actualizing the spiritual warrior archetype, a compassionate strong leader.  In Greek mythology, Aries was known as the god of war and went about conquering tribes, driven by a passion for combat. As an archetype, Aries represents “the warrior,” pursuing his destiny passionately and seeing his spiritual mission as a conquest.  Jesus’ strongest suit was probably an ability to lead politically and spiritually.  He would have been driven to leadership with a fire lit in his heart, the element of an Aries personality. With Aries fueling a strong sense of commitment and loyalty, Jesus would most likely adhere to his cause and the promises his soul made to fulfill the complex destiny before him. He would fully expect his disciples to remain with him and demonstrate the same kind of loyalty. With Mars conjunct Pluto in the ninth house, Jesus would have had to go to battle for his beliefs. Therefore, his position in the spiritual community would not have come easy and without taking its toll.  This battle, as we know, was not to conquer lands but to conquer hearts by putting forth the highest ideals that he naturally would have expected others to follow.  He was the way, and he expected his disciples to follow his lead.

As an interesting side-note, the biblical symbolism of Jesus as the “Lamb of God” could have been derived from the fact that Jesus’ birth was in the sign of Aries, signified by the Ram of the Zodiac.  Although the lamb has been traditionally interpreted to represent his innocence, gentleness, and self-sacrifice, the ruler qualities of the Ram more aptly signify passion, courageousness, and fearlessness–attributes describing someone possessing a fighting spirit and great determination.

A fire sign, Aries possesses the spark of initiative and the mental strength to conquer the worldview of others, often by shattering more traditional beliefs and, in Jesus’ case, offering instead higher truth and divine principles, characteristic of an enlightened master (Neptune on the Midheaven).  He probably possessed the fortitude and passion to fulfill a mission with greater conviction than most.  As an ingress Aries, he would have armed himself with strong principles and conviction and aspired to greatness.  He would have pursued his mission and goals in a direct fashion and in a confrontational style, with little hesitation or equivocation. With Mars in the 8th house, it would be difficult for Jesus to back away, put aside any of his principles, or back down by abdicating his position.

Ruled by Mars, the Aries personality is a masculine-thinking type whose ego is strongly identified with his masculinity.  Jesus would have valued masculine traits and generally considered himself manly.   If he was to become virtuous and with spiritual integrity, he would have had to shed the conditioning of a culture that saw men as superior and embrace women as equals. His destiny path would have led him to embrace ‘the goddess within’ so that his soul could evolve to balance and opportunities to appreciate the women around him for offering him examples of a feminine approach to life.

To complement his Aries identification, his ascendant (rising sign) in Capricorn would have made him appear fatherly, serious, even contemplative, defining him as a calming, secure presence for others to seek out and admire. His Capricorn stability would have tempered the fire of his Aries personality with caution and led him to deliberate before taking action. The natural tension between Aries and Capricorn would have taught him that Rome wasn’t built in a day and that it would take considerable time and effort to succeed.  His self-determination, temperament and fatherly persona all seemed to come together to structure his personality for the destiny he’d received.

Ruled by Saturn, Capricorn inspires others by defining and refining statements, making points clear. Others would naturally look up to him, perhaps even projecting the archetype of the King of Hearts onto his personality, as he was a loving and sincere patriarch who they would naturally wish to lead them.[1] Jesus would have been physically attractive and extremely charismatic, magnetizing large groups of people around him.

With Neptune at the midheaven, Jesus’ spiritual side is brought into greater definition.  His spiritual aspirations were pointed directly to the heavens, probably leading him to ponder the deepest spiritual questions and to be steered always in the direction of God for the answers.

With Neptune in such a strong position, Jesus would have awakened to his spiritual power early, likely through some type of transcendent experience—a spiritual awakening.  From that juncture he would have used the revelations derived from other mystical experiences to formulate a body of wisdom and enlightening teachings, some of which still remain and are found in the more important sayings of the Gospels.  His faith in God would have been strong, developed through spiritual practice, such as meditation, contemplation and prayer.  His Neptunian mind would have thirsted for spiritual knowledge and he likely chose to study the more mystical occult traditions such as Qabbalism and the teachings of the great philosophers of the time.

[1] The aspects in Jesus’ natal chart that denote physical attractiveness are Venus in Aries and Venus square his Ascendant in Capricorn.  Charismatic qualities are associated with Mars conjunct Pluto.

For more about Jesus and Mary Magdalene’s horoscope and the many discovers I made about their legacy, I hope you will download your copy of Jesus Mary Joseph now.  Free book promotion begins March 23rd, 2014 on Amazon Kindle.  Last day March 27th.

Join the virtual birthday party on Facebook.

Weyden’s Magdalene Heresy

Weydons-descent-from-cross-MM-weddingringClose-up Mary Magdalene – Rogier van der Weyden’s  Deposition- c. 1435

Perhaps as important of a Renaissance artist as Leonardo Da Vinci, Rogier van der Weyden was one of the first to hide clues to the secret legacy of Jesus and Mary Magdalene in his paintings.  The Deposition (Christ Carried off the Cross) is a prime example with its mysterious and meaningful elements and symbols of Freemasonry.  See for yourself by viewing my latest youtube video title:   Weyden’s Magdalene Heresy.

Book excerpt……………….

“The Deposition, as it is titled, was painted by Rogier van der Weyden, a master Flemish painter of the 15th century.  The painting was an altarpiece, commissioned for the chapel of the Confraternity of the Archers or Crossbowmen of Leuven.  The two small crossbows in the lower spandrels of the tracery in the picture were emblematic for the Confraternity.  Mary of Hungary (1505-1558), Regent of the Netherlands, acquired the painting from the Archers of Leuven before 1548. Later it came into the possession of her nephew King Philip II of Spain (1527-1598; king from 1556), who finally placed it in the monastery fortress of the Escorial he had founded near Madrid. At that time The Deposition was the centerpiece of a triptych, but there is little indication that the side wings were originally part of the work. It is thought that The Deposition was originally a single panel.

The composition is a snapshot of an emotional moment in time, with Jesus’ body having been brought down from the cross and nine other figures participating in some role and exhibiting varying degrees of grief.  The Virgin has succumbed to a fainting spell and John the Evangelist has leaned over to catch her.  The Virgin is depicted as suffering from an unsightly case of goiter because her thyroid and neck appear swollen.  Depicting the immaculate Virgin in this light should have raised some eyebrows at the very least, if not perceived as complete blasphemy. The holy women, relatives of the Virgin, are  behind her, one  in support  and the other  overcome

deposition-weydenDeposition – Rogier van der Weyden – circa 1435

by her own sorrow.  Visibly, tears stream down her face like pearls.  A richly clothed Joseph of Arimathea solemnly carries the torso of the body of Christ while Nicodemus in a fine gold brocade robe supports the legs.  Behind him and high up on the ladder leaning against the cross is an unidentified man who holds the crucifixion nails in hand and just over Nicodemus’ left shoulder is another man whose sole function seems to be to hold Mary Magdalene’s alabaster jar while she leans against him for support.

Mary Magdalene is portrayed as a grief stricken woman with tears of sorrow streaming down her face.  She clutches her hand in the “prayer of the heart” position with fingers locked together.

Upon close inspection, details emerge that turn the subject of this painting into a whole other subject than at first glance.  By magnifying Mary Magdalene’s image, we notice several unusual elements that up until now have gone unnoticed or at the very least were glossed over.  Or perhaps, art historians avoided remarking on them because of the implied heresy.

First of all, Mary Magdalene wears a simple gold band on the ring finger of her right hand.  At the time this painting was commissioned and executed it was customary for brides to wear a wedding ring on the right hand not the left.  It was not until the 16th century that this custom changed to the left hand.  Although a few portraits by other Flemish painters have depicted Mary Magdalene as regally dressed and adorned with fine jewelry, even thumb rings, only a few others portray her wearing a wedding ring.  An example is a 16th century painting titled Mary Magdalene Reading painted by Ambrosius Bensen that depicts Mary with prayer book in hand and a wedding ring on the left hand.  For Weyden as well as Bensen, Mary Magdalene was a married woman and we can definitely assume they believed she was betrothed to Jesus.  The “prayer heart position” of her hands is one that was frequently used in association with Mary Magdalene.  A survey of Renaissance art will prove countless examples such as, George de la Tour’s Penitent Magdalene with Twin Flames, El Greco’s Penitent Magdalene, Caravaggio’s Mary Magdalene in Ecstasy and Marie Madeleine at the altar of the chapel at Rennes le Chateau.  The hand position not only takes on the symbolism of a heart but also speaks of the binding love of her commitment to Jesus and their union.

Weyden also painted other symbolic elements that not only confirm Mary’s position as Jesus’ wife but also suggest she was pregnant with child.  Looking at Mary Magdalene’s clothing, we notice the predominant dress she wears is actually an under dress, a kirtle.  Her overdress, mantle, or cloak had slipped down to her hips forming soft folds of fabric all the way to the ground.  We recognize that the cloak must have fallen off her shoulder because the pin that once held it up remains.  The under dress (kirtle) is in fact a 15th century maternity dress that characteristically laced up the front so that it could be adjusted (let out) as a pregnancy progressed.  We notice that below her waist the lacing is loosened and slightly open to reveal a white undergarment beneath.  The lacing had been loosened to accommodate her growing pregnancy belly and when we take a closer look it does appear protruding to denote a pregnancy bump.

spiral-lacingClose-up Spiral Lacing, The Visitation, Weyden

Spiral lacing that could be adjusted to accommodate a full term figure was characteristic of maternity wear in the 15th century.  In the 1445 painting The Visitation, again by Weyden, we notice that the red gown on Elizabeth, who was pregnant with St. John the Baptist at the time, had side lacing that is loosened and stretched apart to accommodate her growing figure. The close-up detail shows the separated spiral side lacing to be similar to that on Mary Magdalene’s kirtle in The Deposition. This would still permit a fairly form-fitting gown that could be tightened afterwards.

Another intriguing element is the belt with two ornamental medallions and a chain dropping down, framing and accentuating her pregnant belly.  The belt, referred to as a girdle, not to be confused with a chastity belt, was an ornamental fashion statement during the Middle Ages denoting a woman’s status. The pendant tag or medallions at the belt end are known as belt-chapes. Many such belts had decorative buckles and additional metal mountings and most had a metal chape at the end. The higher a woman’s status the more likely her girdle would be rich with ornamentation.

Beginning in the 13th century, girdles were popular wedding gifts given to brides.  By the 15th century, girdles were less commonly presented as gifts, but they retained romantic significance.  Girdles were often personalized with heraldic motifs or decorations that symbolized ownership, allegiance or love. Some girdles were inscribed with mottoes and sayings personal to the owner, sentiments of faith and love. These sentiments seemed to reflect the symbolism of the girdle itself. A girdle could signify chastity, virginity and fidelity owing to the intimate nature of the object and where it was worn. By removing her girdle and giving it to her husband, a lady symbolically bestowed her love and fidelity.

The most astonishing least hidden clue in The Deposition lies in the embossed inscription on the girdle written in Latin.  Rather than a motto, it is inscribed with a name.  The name is actually two names strung together spelling out— IOESVSMARIA.  From Latin to English, the name translates as:  “JESUSMARIA”. Although the most common spelling for Jesus in Latin is “IESVS”, “IEOSVS” is a close variant of that spelling. The “OE” diphthong would be pronounced as a “long E”, “JEESUS”. What was Weyden hinting at with this inscription on the belt?  He wasn’t hinting at anything.  He was proclaiming loud and clear the sentiments and status of the woman who is wearing it.  The two names represent the sacred union of bride and bridegroom, husband and wife. As with the ring, the inscription denotes Mary’s faithfulness to the bond of love between she and Jesus. And because the belt frames her pregnant belly it points to the paternity of the child Mary Magdalene is carrying.  Weyden spelled it out as clearly and cleverly as he could. Little JESUSMARIA was being nurtured within the womb of his mother, Maria Magdalene.  The belt is, therefore, emblematic of Mary Magdalene’s status as Jesus’ wife and the mother of the child from their union.”


Ariadne Green, author of Jesus Mary Joseph:  The Secret Legacy of Jesus and Mary Magdalene

More Light Shed on Leonardo Da Vinci’s Spiritual Beliefs

john-baptist-da-vinci John-the-baptist-Master-BF I

I stumbled upon a 16th century miniature painting from an illuminated manuscript that sheds light on Leonardo Da Vinci’s early spiritual beliefs, ones hinted at in his painting John the Baptist and ones which would have been deemed heretical by the Church. It confirms the assertion that Leonardo was a Gnostic.

The illumination pictured on the right is attributed to an unknown Italian illuminator, known only as the Master B.F., a name derived from the monogram with which he signed some of his works. Although it is roughly dated circa c.1500 -1510, I believe the artist was influenced by Leonardo’s painting of John the Baptist (c.1513-1516), not the reverse. Therefore, the illumination was probably conceived out of the illuminator’s interactions with Da Vinci sometime after 1513. There are recognizable features of a High Renaissance style, in the manner of  Leonardo de Vinci and the Lombard illuminator Cristoforo de Predis. And the subject of the miniature is a familiar one for Leonardo, the debate and argument between two streams Christianity, Orthodox and Gnostic.

What were the beliefs being debated?  “Christ, the Messiah” versus “John the Baptist, the Messiah”.

The miniature painting depicts a youthful John the Baptist standing in a landscape, holding a scroll end close to his heart inscribed “Ecce Agnus Dei” (“Here is the Lamb of God”); his symbolic lamb sits behind him propping up John’s familiar cross staff. The Roman/Greco column is symbolic for victory and triumph. Although, most assume the depiction identifies John as the last of the prophets of Israel and the precursor of the Messiah, the writing on scroll suggests otherwise. It is an explicit proclamation that John the Baptist is in fact the Messiah prophesised in Isaiah, Chapter 53.  In addition, the presence of the dove descending from the heavens, mentions God’s presence and support of that fact in much the same way the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus at his baptism, marking the beginning of his ministry and proclaiming Jesus the Son of God (Luke 3:22 ). Here John the Baptist is afforded that status.  The column proclaims  him the victor.

While Leornardo never made his beliefs as explicit as the illuminator, the John debate was a central theme in many of Leonardo’s paintings throughout his career.  The debate is depicted in Virgin on the Rocksfor instance, and resolved in the newly discovered painting Magdalene/Madonna and Child with John the Baptistawaiting authentication.

For Da Vinci, at least for a time, it was John the Baptist who he venerated. According to Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince, authors of The Templar Revelation, the “John gesture” (pointing finger up) was an arrogant pose of superior knowledge that suggested Leonardo might have embraced the Gnostic ideological tenets of the Mandaeans. The Mandaeans were a Gnostic sect from the Northern part of Mesopotamia, who migrated there from Judea and whose name is derived from the Aramaic root, “manda”, meaning:  “knowledge.” They claimed to hold the secret laws of God and believed that John the Baptist was the superior spiritual teacher.  They rejected Jesus Christ as the Son of God, maintaining that he corrupted John’s teachings.

However, the gesture is not exclusively Da Vinci’s because it  can be found in other paintings and illuminations from the Renaissance and before.  In my mind, John’s gesture, as rendered in the portrait, doesn’t seem to be born out of arrogant superiority, but is instead a simple yet meaningful proclamation:  “There is only one God.”  The index finger in the air pointing up coupled with his other hand at his heart, reminds us that the one God in heaven is in our hearts.

I expand on Da Vinci’s John debate in my new release, Jesus Mary Joseph: 
The Secret Legacy of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.  Available on Amazon Kindle. 



Copyright:  Ariadne Green, 2013