XX. From The Acts of Mary
[Excerpts from The Acts of Mary as translated by C.T. Edwards, A. Healy, L. Moresco, and S. Weiss]
My husband, Joshua, was not the most handsome man I had ever seen, but the power of his personality made up for that. He radiated confidence, joy, safety.
We knew he was a true prophet who spoke with the voice of God. All men and women who heard him wanted to follow him, just to be near him, but he chose only a few as the ones to be with him and hear his deepest teachings of the mysteries of the Kingdom. He showed us that the name of the Kingdom is also the name of the Queen. He taught us that Israel had lost its covenant with God because it had forgotten the Queen. Is it not necessary that if we have a Father in Heaven, we must also have a Mother?
How evil it is to think that our love, our joy, is opposed to God and to God’s will, when he has clearly told us that our joy is what he wills. As Joshua taught, the angels in Heaven neither marry nor are given in marriage. They cannot grasp what our joy in our physical bodies is. That is why the Father and the Mother created physical bodies for themselves. Our human love is only a pale reflection of the infinite passion of our Father and our Mother. It is the rebellious angels, who cannot feel or understand the joy of our sexuality, who mislead men into believing that we should be like them instead of like our true parents.
All of Israel knows we have been commanded to be fertile and multiply. All Israel knows that our God created us as sexual beings as a blessing, a happiness, a joy. It is in our joy that we ensure that humanity will survive.
It is the Greeks and other Gentiles who despise the body, who call it a tomb, who believe they should be purely spiritual beings like the angels. It is they who despise our sexuality because they despise their bodies, so they avoid sexuality and love entirely, or else indulge in it so callously that they can never reach the height of bliss that our God intends for us and has given us the capacity to achieve.
When Saul and the others began to preach to the Greeks about the resurrection, the Greeks thought resurrection meant that they would be trapped in the tombs of their bodies forever. They could not believe in the goodness of the good news.
It is the Greeks who believe that they have immortal souls—no Israelite has ever believed that! The Greeks believe that the good will enjoy the delights of the Elysian Fields until they are reincarnated. They believe that the best souls will go to live with the gods on Mount Olympus, somewhere in the heavens. They believe that the evil will suffer torment in Tartarus, in the realm of Hades.
So it was that our brethren began to preach that our salvation is of our souls, not our bodies; that the just and all who believe in the good news will dwell with God in the heavens; and that the wicked, those who have done evil to others, would be tormented in Gehenna.
So it was that, preaching with the ideas and beliefs of the Greeks, they came to accept those beliefs. They began to denigrate the body, not valuing the beauty of what God created as his blessing to us. Such beliefs are totally opposed to what Joshua preached. They have corrupted the meaning of the good news, and corrupted it quickly.
I have seen the letters of Saul. I have read his words condemning our most precious gift. It was so easy for him and the others to give in to what the Greeks believed, to dilute and alter what Joshua preached, in order to attract more and more people into our community. They did not see how futile that was if these new ones never knew what the good news truly was.
Believing that salvation will take place only later, only in the heavens, they forgot that the true salvation takes place here and now for every person, that the true salvation will transform this world person by person, until the veil is lifted from our human eyes. Then once again we will see this Earth as the Paradise it truly is, hidden from us only by our pride and our selfishness.
For many years we lived peacefully in Jerusalem and the rest of Judea. My brother’s house in Bethany was a refuge for many brothers and sisters. As far as possible we avoided involvement in the disputes between the houses and parties in Israel, for the Sadducees ridiculed the Pharisees, and the Pharisees fought among themselves. The Zealots harassed the Romans, often bringing retribution down on the innocent. Our Essene brothers and sisters hid in their refuge in the wilderness by the Jordan. The other Jews did not believe that Joshua was truly our Mashiach, yet regarded us as genuine Jews, for we observed the Law as Joshua had taught us to.
As our brothers preached to the children of Israel scattered throughout the Gentile world, many of those Israelites believed in the good news and were baptized. Many Gentiles also believed and were baptized. The other Jews insisted that the Gentiles could not become followers of the Way without also becoming Jews. Our new Gentile brothers in the world outside the land of Israel did not wish to be circumcised.
Finally the missionary brothers from Antioch and other Gentile cities came to Jerusalem to confer about the problem. After all had talked, James ruled that the teaching of the House of Hillel was as the will of God on this matter, for the House of Hillel had taught that Gentiles who fulfilled the commandments given to Noah would be allowed to enter the Kingdom. All praised God for James’ wisdom and a peaceful solution to the problem.
Then Saul explained all that he had been teaching to the Gentiles and the God-fearers. When I heard that, I was outraged and rebuked him, saying, “Saul, what you are teaching is not what Joshua taught.Yes, we must repent of our sins and accept the will of God. We believe that Joshua as our Mashiach has made it possible for all of us to finally do so, but you are claiming that love and the beauty of the bodies in which God created us are themselves sinful! That is totally opposed to what Joshua taught us. He taught us to love one another and to rejoice in the gifts of love and beauty that God has bestowed on us. He taught us that it is in love that we come closest to knowing the joy of our Father and Mother in Heaven. What you are teaching closes the gates of Paradise against many who deserve to enter them!”
Saul answered, “I know Joshua condemned adultery. That is what I was told.”
“Adultery, yes!“ I said, “but not our ability to love! Only the married can commit adultery! There is no commandment that says none but the married may love! Remember the great commandment: ‘Be fertile and multiply!’ We must engage in love to fulfill that commandment. What fulfills a commandment cannot be a sin! As he once said, ‘You do greatly err, for you do not know the scriptures.’”
Saul responded, “How do you, sister, presume to question my preaching? Did Joshua make you superior to your brothers?”
Thus he scorned me, and I became angry. I replied, “No, he did not make me superior, but he did make me equal. As he said, ‘The son and the daughter must inherit equally.’ You never saw him face to face. You know his teachings only from other men. But I was his wife. He taught me the truth of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God and the Queen of Heaven. You know nothing of those mysteries, Saul, so do not presume to look down on me!”
Then James, in his wisdom, said, “Peace, peace, brothers and sisters. Remember he said that not all could receive his teachings about marriage. Let us agree that Saul may teach restraint and moderation to all who need such discipline. Mary shall teach as he taught about how the love of our Heavenly Father and Mother is reflected in the love of husband and wife. As for whether knowing someone outside of marriage is always a sin or somehow harmful to our community, that is a profound question to which I do not know the answer. Do any of you here know that answer?”
There was a deep silence among all who were gathered there.
“That is what I thought,” James said. “We will leave that question to be considered at some later time.”
All who were gathered for the council agreed that, just as there were many ways to be Jewish, there might be many ways to be a true follower of Joshua as Mashiach.