I had one, late last night. Reading a scholarly article on the figure of "Mary" in Gnostic writings, the author made the most blindingly obvious point.
Who sez this "Mary" is Mary Magdalene, anyway?
And he's right. In the gnostic writings, most of the time this "Mary" is simply "Mary." There are a couple of mentions of "the Magdalene," but they are far outnumbered by just plain "Mary." The author makes the very strong case that this "Mary" is either a composite, mythical figure (which is not news) or could even be Mary, the Mother of Jesus. He points to the "Mary" in the Pistis Sophia, in particular, who engages in extensive questioning and dialogue with Jesus, as most certainly Mary, his mother, and not the Magdalene. Mary, his mother is explicitly identified as his dialogue partner in much of the work, but this author points to other moments, seized upon by Magdalene-goddess writers today, as evidence of Magdalene's special role, as probably representing Mary of Nazareth most of the time, as well.(His evidence? Allusions to her as "blessed among women" in the text, other linguistic signals, as well as a tradition in Syrian Christianity, the mileu in which these texts developed, in which Jesus' first post-resurrection appearance was to Mary, his mother, not the Magdalene.)
Fascinating. I thought how even I, a person committed to seeing these texts objectively, outside of any contemporary agenda, have just bought, without thinking, the assumption that the figure of Mary is the Magdalene, and then taken on the task of trying to explain her function and purpose there, in the context of that identity.
But what if she's not?
This scholar, who's written what looks like a very interesting but $140 study of Ancient traditions of Mary's Dormition and Assumption, traces the assumption back to the 19th century, when scholars first started looking at these works, particularly the Pistis, and even says that the Protestant orientation of these scholars worked against them considering that this Mary could be Mary of Nazareth, as he calls her. And we all know the agenda that's driven subsequent assumptions.