Imagining Mary Magdalene

The Discourse of Hidden Wisdom in American Popular Culture


  • Jodie Eichler-Levine University of Wisconsin Oshkosh



Mary Magdalene, Bible, popular culture, North America


In this article I analyze how Americans draw upon the authority of both ancient, so-called “hidden” texts and the authority of scholarly discourse, even overtly fictional scholarly discourse, in their imaginings of the “re-discovered” figure of Mary Magdalene. Reading recent treatments of Mary Magdalene provides me with an entrance onto three topics: how Americans see and use the past, how Americans understand knowledge itself, and how Americans construct “religion” and “spirituality.” I do so through close studies of contemporary websites of communities that focus on Mary Magdalene, as well as examinations of relevant books, historical novels, reader reviews, and comic books. Focusing on Mary Magdalene alongside tropes of wisdom also uncovers the gendered dynamics at play in constructions of antiquity, knowledge, and religious accessibility.

Author Biography

Jodie Eichler-Levine, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

Jodi Eichler-Levine is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, where she also teaches courses in the Women's Studies program. Her work has appeared in _American Quarterly_ and _Shofar_. Her research interests include religion and children's literature, material culture, and representations of religion in popular culture.

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How to Cite

Eichler-Levine, J. (2014). Imagining Mary Magdalene: The Discourse of Hidden Wisdom in American Popular Culture. Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts, Cultural Histories, and Contemporary Contexts, 7(1), 1–25.