The “Fourth Gospel” known as “The Gospel According to John”, has past through many hands to get to the present form we know it today. It is also called the “Fourth Gospel”, because no serious scholars believe that the apostle John wrote it, or that it can even be attributed to a community that was founded by John.
Inside the first half of the Fourth Gospel some scholars speculate is an earlier “Gospel of Signs” , in which women figure prominently. The second half of the gospel contains an anonymous, “male”, mysterious, “Beloved Disciple” of Jesus, who is with Jesus at the Last Supper and also present with Jesus after his arrest, when together, in the middle of the night, Jesus and this disciple go see Caiaphas’ father-in-law, “Annas”. This could only be plausible if the “other disciple” knew Herod, and by extension, the high priest’s family too, just like the Fourth Gospel says SHE did (John 18:15-16).
What if, in the earliest version of the gospel, the “Beloved Disciple”, or “the disciple whom Jesus loved”, or the “other disciple” was in fact named, and her name was Mary Magdalene? (Please see my other article published on this open-minded website: “Who Was The Historical Mary Magdalene?”, since these two articles are related). What if the later editors of the Fourth Gospel created an anonymous male disciple as the “Beloved Disciple” to conceal the fact that the real founder of their community was a women? If they wanted their gospel to be seen as an important eye witness testimony to faith, they would have to conceal the fact that a women founded their community, because women were seen as second class citizens who could not be trusted in Jesus’ day. What if the “Beloved Disciple” is an invention by the editors of the “Fourth Gospel” put into the same scenes as Mary Magdalene, at both the death and resurrection? What if the original earliest version of these accounts had only Mary Magdalene and other women present, like the synoptics gospels all say?
As first pointed out by Ramon K. Jusino in an article published on the web at “BelovedDisciple.org, the death account reads much more naturally in the Fourth Gospel:
“Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene, the disciple whom he loved.”
Between the word “Magdalene” and the words “the disciple whom he loved”, it appears some one inserted an invention: an anonymous male disciple who was never really there! The same thing applies to the confusing way the resurrection story reads, where neither the Beloved Disciple, or even Peter for that matter, were probably present in the earliest version of the text.
So what does this all mean? Well, I would suggest we should take seriously the possibility that there is a women originated gospel in the New Testament after all! Perhaps it has been staring humankind in the face for the past 1900 some odd years! It seems to me possible that wealthy, educated, “Hellenized” Roman women (see Luke 8:2-3) might create a highly developed Christology, downplay Jesus’ message to the poor and replace much of the radical, systemic injustice implications of Jesus’ gospel with the one commandment, “to love one another.”
Please, I invite your comments to John at firstname.lastname@example.org, as in my other article: “Who was the Historical Mary Magdalene?”