Leaving behind the oldest profession

Now that the “Da Vinci Code” phenomenon has subsided, what is to come of Mary Magdalene?

Pope Gregory proclaimed her a prostitute in 591 and it stuck. For a long, long time. But scholars now agree that the pope was mistaken and there is no reason to believe that Mary was a prostitute.

Dan Brown’s fictional “Code,” of course, went a step or two further, “revealing” that Jesus and Mary were married with children. The book is a novel and its plot was dismissed off-hand by scholars, but many readers took the story quite seriously (or at least considered whether elements might contain truth).

Even before the book, many women were trying to reclaim Mary Magdalene, not as Jesus’ wife, but as one of his apostles — as a woman whose primary role was written out of Scripture and whose reputation was unfairly stained.

So now, a popular Korean musical about the life of Mary Magdalene has come to the 2006 New York Musical Theater Festival. “Maria Maria” once again presents Magdalene as a prostitute. She is forced by the Pharisees to try to seduce Jesus. She fails, confesses her love for Jesus and defends him after the crucifixion.

Apparently, Magdalene, as portrayed in popular culture, has not yet escaped the world’s oldest profession. The show won 4 Korean Musical Awards, including “Best Musical.” It is playing through Oct. 15 at Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College in New York. Get ticket and other information “here.”:http://www.mariausa.com/

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.