Modern Novelists Spread Unorthodox Ideas – Part 4

The Book of Love


Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman
Modern Novelists Spread Unorthodox Ideas
Part 3 – The Book of Love

In Kathleen McGowan’s The Book of Love (2008), Maureen Pascal, a journalist, needs assistance from the man she loves, Berenger Sinclair, and her cousin, a Jesuit scholar at the Vatican, to unravel Matilda of Tuscany’s biography and to find The Book of Love, a gospel written by Jesus, before a secret faction within the Catholic Church destroys it. The Church is afraid the revelations in these documents will inflict irreparable damage on the Church and its doctrines, so they will do whatever is necessary to make certain Maureen and her friends fail in their mission.
Matilda is one of the Expected Ones, who undergoes trials and triumphs that impact world history and the Church. Her father’s trusted mercenary teaches her to be a warrior, for Matilda has no intention of allowing a man to rule her. When her father is murdered, her life changes, and she is betrothed to her stepbrother, a hunchback who fears women with red hair and who will not tolerate Matilda’s wild and uninhibited ways. Once she escapes from her imprisonment, she returns to her beloved Tuscany and aligns herself with Pope Gregory VII. Together they wage political and personal struggles to combat Matilda’s overlord, King Henry of Germany, and her husband, who wants control of her lands and the Catholic Church.
The following quotes and ideas came from The Book of Love:
In Genesis 1:26, God said, “Let us make humankind in our image according to our likeness… and in Genesis 3:22, “See, the man has become like one of us.” That makes God plural.
Then from The Book of Love as preserved in the Libro Rosso, she quotes:

“How could it be that God created female in his own image if he did not have a female image?” Later, the same source attests that “she was first called Athiret,” which “meant She Who Treads Upon the Sea.” Later, “Athiret became known in Hebrew as Asherah, our Divine Mother, and the Lord became known as El, our Heavenly Father.”

The character Maureen says, “If scholars are looking for the evidence in their ivory towers conveniently written in English and accessible through their air-conditioned libraries, then they certainly won’t find it. The kind of proof that I seek is more organic, human, and real. It comes from the people and the cultures who live these stories, who incorporate them into their lives every day.”
Later, she talks about the huge numbers of Cathars in southern France and areas of Italy what were eradicated by the Church because they believed they descended from Jesus and Mary. They practiced a “pure form of Christianity that they claimed came directly from Jesus” via Mary Magdalene.
The banner that Joan of Arc carried in the siege of Orleans was “Jhesus-Maria.” She was burned at the stake in the town square of Rouen in 1431, primarily because she believed that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married, that their descendants belonged on the throne of France, and that the original and pure practices of Christianity could be restored under the appropriate king.
Jesus’ crucifixion did not necessarily mean that his message would die. Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus and Luke pledged to protect Mary Magdalene and to support her and the holy teachings in every way possible for the rest of her life, her children’s lives, and beyond. They believed that Mary Magdalene was Jesus’ “chosen successor to continue the teachings of The Way,” so they formed an alliance, one that would come to be known as the Order of the Holy Sepulcher.
After the crucifixion, it became unsafe for Jesus’ family to remain in Israel, so his uncle, Joseph of Arimathea, quickly arranged for Mary Magdalene, who was heavily pregnant with the savior’s heir, to flee to Alexandria, Egypt, on one of his trading ships.
The term “the Queen of Heaven” had been used to define a number of great female spiritual entities: Isis, the Virgin Mary, numerous goddess forms from virtually all Near Eastern cultures, like the Sumerian Inanna and the Mesopotamian Ishtar, the Hebrew Asherah, and even Mary Magdalene by her French followers.
In chapter one of Luke’s gospel, “the prayer, as recited by the angel Gabriel, was ‘Hail, full of Grace. The Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women.’” Mary’s name wasn’t used. That was added later.
Translations are a critical issue. For instance, John 14:26 translated from the Greek into English says, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” The same verse translated from Aramaic, which predates the Greek text, says, “But She – the Spirit, the Paraclete – whom He will send to you, my Father in my name, She will teach you everything; She will remind you of that which I have told you.” “Paraclete” is traditionally translated as “comforter” or “counselor,” but is more accurately translated as “one who intercedes.”
Isaiah is loaded with references to God behaving as a mother – as a woman in labor, as a mother who gives birth to and protects Israel.
In Hebrew, the word equivalent of Holy Spirit is ruach, which can be either masculine or feminine, dependent on usage. In Aramaic, the word is ruacha, which is definitively feminine. In the NRSV translation, Romans 8:16 reads, “It is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” In Aramaic, it is she, the Ruacha, who bears “witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”
In the Gospel of Philip, page 57, page 103, the English translation says, “Some say that Mary was impregnated by the grace of the Holy Spirit. But they do not know what they say. How can the feminine impregnate the feminine?”
It has even been speculated that the name of God, “Yahweh,” evolved from Ya-hu, which means “Exalted Dove” and was the name of an ancient creation goddess who was the wife of God, who was called El. The two, “El” and “Ya-hu,” were blended into one and became “Yahweh,” which later became male.
Deuteronomy 6:5 is the Greatest Commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” And Leviticus 19:18 adds, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Something very similar is found in the Book of Love as preserved in the Libro Rosso: “Only two commandments that must concern all men and women at all times: Love God, your creator in heaven, with all your heart and all your soul. Love your neighbor as yourself, knowing that all men and women are your neighbor and that in loving them, you are loving God… If all mankind lived by these two commandments at all times, there would be no war, no injustice, no suffering… How simple is the true will of God!”

Review & Commentary