Joan E. Taylor is Professor of Christian Origins and Second Temple Judaism at King’s College London. Her numerous books and articles explore early Jewish and Christian life in the ancient Mediterranean.
BAS Scholars Series, December 8, 2022
Mary Magdalene: Memory and Mystery at Dura Europos
With her long hair and beauty, Mary Magdalene is easily recognizable to us in contemporary film and in art. Portrayals of Mary in western art point to essential facets of her memory over time. In the art of the early (and eastern) Church, however, she is not so recognizable, often being portrayed like other women disciples of Jesus or Jesus’s mother. How can we recognize her? In the earliest of all surviving Christian art, in the third-century house-church of Dura Europos in eastern Syria, she was identified by the excavators in the baptistery paintings. But, given curious features of the representation, this identification has been challenged. By looking at a variety of early Christian texts, we are led into a mysterious world in which meaning is presented in overlapping ways and the figure of Mary functions as a powerful symbol.