Acknowledgments

 

Acknowledgements and influences

The central vision and argument of the Book of Mary has not come from the writings of any other person.  However there were a number of influences which should be acknowledged.

Stevan Davies’ excellent work in showing how the Gospel of Mark depends in part upon the Gospel of Thomas has been drawn upon directly. Stevan Davies also has a conception of the Gospel of Thomas which is very similar to that of the Book of Mary in some respects – for example the idea that light and water stand for the spirit and riches stand for the kingdom of god.

Earl Doherty has set out the most scholarly argument for Jesus being a myth rather than an historical person. The author has been influenced by Earl Doherty’s arguments - in particular his persuasive treatment of the scant evidence for Jesus outside Christian documents and his analysis of Paul’s concept of Jesus.

Elaine Pagels in ‘The Gnostic Paul’ explains the Gnostic interpretation of Paul. This was a great influence on the author’s attempts at understanding the writings of Paul.  Although The Book of Mary does not directly draw upon this work it does very much draw on the idea that Paul does on occasions in his writings interweave two messages - one aimed at the pneumatic and the other at the psychic.

‘The Jesus Mysteries’ by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy sets out the argument for a non-historical Jesus derived from Gnosticism with considerable flair.  Their book, although less scholarly than Earl Doherty’s treatment of the same subject, is a great read.

There are also some resources on the internet that were invaluable in writing the Book of Mary -

The Gnostic Archive run by the Ecclesia Gnostica is the best and most comprehensive source of texts relating to Gnosticism.  The Bishop of the Ecclesia Gnostica, Dr. Stephan A. Hoeller, is himself a distinguished author of books on Gnosticism.

Peter Kirby operates some excellent resources on early Christianity. Particularly useful has been his compendium of commentary on the Gospel of Thomas and his web site on early Christian writings.

Membership of some Yahoo groups has also brought fresh insights. I must in particular thank members of the GospelOfThomas and the JesusMysteries groups.

The bible quotes are based on the King James Version and on Young’s Literal Translation. However I have brought the language up to date and occasionally changed expressions where a study of the original along with other translations and commentaries indicates alternative meanings.  Any contentious areas have been highlighted in the text so that the reader can make their own judgements.   

The Gospel of Thomas quotes are mostly from the translation of Messrs. Brill of Leiden.

Finally it is impossible to overstate the influence that Jung has had upon the author. Anyone setting out on a path of spiritual self-discovery could do no better than follow Jung’s process of ‘individuation’ as a starting point. It should however be emphasised that the spirit as experienced by the early Christians is not the same as Jung’s anima/animus which in the Book of Mary is called the counterfeit spirit. The soul/spirit is a much deeper and more powerful phenomenon than the relatively superficial anima/animus. However Jung does hint at the concept of the spirit which he conceives as a higher aspect of the anima/animus. Jung’s own writings leave me in little doubt that Jung did personally experience his female spirit and received the revelations of his own work and of the Gnostic ‘Seven Sermons to the Dead’ through this spirit.

Stephen Peter

7 October 2003.