[An excerpt from The Acts of Mary, as translated by C.T. Edwards, A. Healy, L. Moresco, and S. Weiss]
After the council meeting, the brothers who preached to the Gentiles continued on their way. We continued on with ours, confident that we were keeping the mysteries he had taught us, no matter what the men students and the Gentiles might say.
During the following years, as word came back to us of what Saul had continued teaching, I sorrowed that so many had been misled and could no longer grasp the truths that Joshua had taught to us. Some even denied that Joseph was Joshua’s father; they claimed that Joshua had said that our Heavenly Father was his actual father. They claimed that he could not have been the Mashiach if he were truly human, if he had been engendered and born just as all other men are.
They do not understand that he had already existed with his Heavenly Father in eternity, just as we all had. They do not know that when the Holy Spirit entered into him at his baptism by John and then drove him out into the wilderness to pray, it awoke him to remember who he truly was. He remembered the mission that his Heavenly Father had planned for him from before the beginning of the cosmos. Every one of us has a mission when we assent to be born in this world and thus attain the prize of a physical life and the joy of the physical love that the angels can never know or understand.
I spoke out against the errors of those brothers, but none of the brothers outside our community paid any attention. They did not believe that a woman could have authority from God to preach. They had forgotten, if they had ever known, that Joshua had taught that men and women are equal in the eyes of God. He taught that a woman may, and sometimes must, carry on a ministry just like that of the men. Perhaps a woman’s ministry may sometimes be more powerful than that of the men, who almost never sense the truth of others’ feelings.
It is the Rabbis of the House of Hillel who are our strongest defenders in Israel, for they understand how Joshua’s teaching was intended to fulfill the law, not overthrow it. They consider our preaching to the Gentiles to be fundamentally no different from their own. Few of them believe that Joshua had truly been the Mashiach, but they do not consider us wrong for believing that. They do not consider us to be heretics or apostates from the law, for we keep the law, whereas Saul, once so zealous for all the traditions of our forefathers, had abandoned the law in his preaching to the Gentiles. Thus with their support we maintained our community peaceably in Jerusalem for about thirty years after Joshua had ascended to his Heavenly Father.
During that time there had been more and more rebellions and uprisings against the Romans, who seized control of our lands almost a century ago. The Zealots were becoming more and more extreme in their attacks on the Roman outposts, not caring that the Romans would afterward massacre everyone who had been in the vicinity of the attack.
It was the Rabbis of the House of Shammai whom Joshua had refuted and made to look ridiculous in public. That House had ever since hated the followers of the Way and had bided their time, hoping to attack us when the House of Hillel might have a moment of weakness. After the Roman Procurator died, his replacement was delayed in coming. In that moment of relative laxness, those of Shammai attacked. They accused James of responsibility for the apostasy of Saul and roused the mob against him. They threw James off the wall of the Temple and incited the mob to stone him to death.
All the godly people of Jerusalem were appalled by this wickedness. Many proclaimed that God would avenge his death, for his piety and adherence to the law were revered. His death silenced one of the last voices of sanity in Jerusalem.
The Zealots, who, like the Sadducees, called themselves the Zadokites (this is, the Righteous Ones), began to attack the Romans even more frequently. The Romans became furious and sent their legions from Syria marching south through Galilee and Samaria, burning down villages and slaughtering all whom they encountered, to begin a siege of Jerusalem. Many proclaimed that the Lord was using the Romans to avenge the death of James.
In the year 819 since the foundation of the City of Rome, when the Romans were marching south into Judea because of the war brought about by the Zealots, many of our family and community fled to the east and the north, across the Jordan to the area of the Ten Towns. But I, my brother and sister, the other women students, and my daughter Sarah fled south, as the Judean women had done in the days of Jeremiah, into Egypt, into the city of Alexandria, where people of many faiths and countries live peacefully next to each other, even though the Romans rule here also. Here we began our community again among the children of Israel, for they knew who the Mashiach must be.