I received a storm of Criticism when I posted my Mary Magdalene icon about Holy Union. That made me look further into what have I done wrong to insult both the Orthodox theologian and traditional iconographers. On the web, I found many images of Magdalene but often from the Renaissance. Artists of that time were developing the idea of Mary with a skull. Contemporary icon painters who paint Mary Magdalene employ attributes which include an egg, a flower, even a pentagon. The common portrayal of her is with long hair, which is misguided. Women do not need to be reminded that in the gospel text, hair is associated with sinners and harlots.
HOW ICONOGRAPHY CAN IDENTIFY MARY MAGDALENE
Worldwide iconographers, please refrain from reacting and defending what is right or wrong and let us look at the messages we try to put forth through our icons. There are new places for Mary Magdalene to be revealed today through our images. We know women in the time of Jesus were the primary educators of children and the development of right behavior. There is no evidence Mary Magdalene was a mother, so how did she follow Jesus? She was a wealthy educated disciple and apostle. She was a teacher when she went to the disciples as the messenger. She understood sacrament when she goes to the tomb to anoint Jesus. The bible gave her name and Magdala the city of her origin, that makes her important.
Men of God, …….use your authoritarian interpretation of the bible with love, charity, wisdom and compassion. Icons are tools for prayer, reflection, insight, inspiration, remembering, and contemplation. Mary Magdalene’s image is more than a sinful women with long hair and a flask. As a female she did get trapped in a cultural norm. Her identity is riddled with leadership and wisdom waiting for accurate visual representation.
THE ORTHODOX COMMUNITY is OWNING HER TRUTH.
ORTHODOX COMMENT This icon is just so misleading .. this depiction of her as disciple could lead anywhere, certainly nowhere near to Eastern Orthodox Iconography. If you wanted to use somebody else’s culture and art, maybe have the humility of heart and respect when adapting their ways and tools of worship. For Orthodox Christians, an icon is NOT a piece of art or a tool to sound your own agenda. An icon is a Creed, a Credo of Faith… and a misguided and misleading creed will lead us far from the truth … I’m not angry when I see this picture … I am just sad..
An icon is not a tool. The purpose of iconography is not to teach new perspectives. Find an Orthodox iconographer and apprentice yourself. Or stop making icon-like paintings and use your creativity to make your own kind of art. You are using the discipline to appropriating your ideas.
What is this? This picture is neither an icon, nor an expression of the Holy Orthodox Faith. What good is it? Gnosticism and female priesthood? The only truth is that this is truly awful.
Her theology makes some of the Prospone school’s theories, and concepts appear more Orthodox in comparison.
You have no place in the Orthodox Church. You have no blessing nor privilege to paint the holy icons. Your pictures are not icons but only susceptible to the demons. At the very least, your empty pictures are full of lies and deceptions, as well as your subjective and demonic interpretation of Scripture.
For you to believe you have a right to paint “icons” especially since you are not Orthodox on any level is utter blasphemy. You are not baptized into the church, so how could you paint. Even if you were, your ideas, beliefs and faith are heretical, they would excommunicate you. Your work is soul destructive and your views are under demonic delusion.
Your intent is to represent Christ and Mary Magdalene as co-equal partners. The movement is called Christo Feminism.
COMMENT from Mary Jane; Heresy is any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs, in particular the accepted beliefs of a church or religious organization. Blasphemy: speaking ill, impious talk or speech, slander.
I find these comments interesting and painful. The talk of doctrine, heresy, canons, demons, and blasphemy illustrate a mind set. The icon is about Holy Union, to stand beside, and support. Are there none among you who can understand…? Christ went against the tradition of the day to bring His message of light and love. Many outstanding leaders do so. THEY do so because there is much to learn and as a race of people we must change. I believe change includes spiritual, emotional, cultural, and physiological evolution and is often authentically reflected in art and iconography. I AM not a teacher of anything, as you all have fully declared. But I love iconography, I am not evil, or possessed, God as my witness.
There are plenty of expert copies of icons. Each one beautifully preserves images written in another time. There is a renaissance happening around the world on lots of levels. Jesus Christ is our example of love, understanding, and divine virtue. Yes, you are Orthodox, and you believe you have all the truth and defend it. REMEMBER, God has The Truth. We are babies from all walks of life, still trying to speak with one another. I am sad for the response; I have seen this before; it is throughout the bible.
CONCLUSIONS and OPINIONS ON BEING SENT
ONE OTHER COMMENT Thank you for this!! I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of Mary Magdalene as the “lover”, “wife”, “disciple”, “friend” of Jesus… my personal studies see her as the greatest disciple of Jesus! In the ancient Jewish times, men and women traveled in separate groups. In the Greek tradition we believe that Peter and James were the principal leaders of the male disciples, while Mary Magdalene along with Mary of Nazareth The Mother of God were the key leaders of the women disciples.
When Jesus appears to Magdalene after the resurrection, she calls to him “Teacher!” And tries to embrace him, but Christ tells her not to cling to him…. and he will send the spirit. It’s important to point out that Christ was not some kind of ruthless teacher, a sort of school Master! Christ was all love, all compassionate, all grace and sent to both genders.
He became human so that humans can again become God. I have always felt that his liberation which he gave to Mary was not a romantic partnership… but a discipleship of grace, of freedom, of independence and authority unimaginable for women in her time… She is his first apostle to comprehend the sprouting seeds of a profound revolution, which Christ planted in her heart.
Her book, In Light of Women: One Woman’s journey with Icons by Mary Jane Miller https://www.lulu.com/en/us/shop/mary-jane-miller/in-light-of-women/paperback/product-1rv4q95m.html?page=1&pageSize=4