This is mostly for the fun of it…
There has been a lot said about Mary Magdalene being the wife of Jesus. Even the painting by Leonardo DaVinci, The Last Supper, is called upon to prove it. The reason being that the disciple directly on Jesus’ right hand looks like a woman or womanly.
If you google it, there appear to be many “coded messages” that Leonard put in the painting. After the book and movie The DaVinci Code by Daniel Brown, PhD. came out, the coded-message theories narrowed in on the person seated to Jesus’ right hand. It became popular to say that the person sitting next to Jesus was not John the beloved Disciple, as Leonardo claimed, but was Mary Magdalene his wife/lover/companion. If you read any of the books that came out after the movie to debate the issues Dan Brown raised, one can see the world quickly devolve yet again into two camps…those that think Dan Brown and his theory is wrong/far-fetched/no biblical basis/conspiracy theory…or…you love it.
The Last Supper specifically portrays the reaction given by each apostle when Jesus said one of them would betray him. All twelve apostles have different reactions to the news, with various degrees of anger and shock. The apostles are identified from a manuscript. (The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci p. 232) with their names found in the 19th century. (Before this, only Judas, Peter, John and Jesus were positively identified.) From left to right, according to the apostles’ heads:…
Bartholomew, James, son of Alphaeus, and Andrew form a group of three… Judas Iscariot, Peter, and John form another group of three….From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Supper_(Leonardo_da_Vinci)
Why I Cared
Something nagged at me about the painting, though. I grew up in Santa Cruz, CA., leaving when I was a young teenager. When I went back to live there thirty years later, I remembered having seen a reproduction of the painting in wax. Wondering if I had dreamed it, I looked up again…and I didn’t dream it and by now then they had a website.
The Wax Reproduction of The Last Supper
We are proud to be the caretakers of this life-sized reproduction of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper, which is a true piece of Santa Cruz history. It was completed sometime in the late 1930’s by the two Katherine Struberghs, a mother and daughter artist team of Los Angeles. Interestingly, the artists used live models to create molds for the figure’s hands and faces. The strands of hair for the figures were inserted directly into the wax using a specialized tool, a task which took eight months to complete. The Last Supper was commissioned by Harry Liston, a well known showman of his times. For the first several years of its life, Mr. Liston transported “The Last Supper” around California on the back of his flat bed truck. Taking the exhibit to county fairs, carnivals and resorts where he charged an admission fee to view the piece.
The piece endured, despite the damage done to it during those traveling exhibitions. It then became the ward of the Santa Cruz Art League until 1990, when Santa Cruz Memorial took over the responsibility of caring for this inspirational piece…
Who was He/She
One could get into a discussion about hair…that at the time, men had short hair or if under a Nazarite vow where you did not cut your hair, once it was long enough, it was worn wound around your head as a hair crown…so technically, back then, if a man had long loose hair, he might have been a new Nazarite…He is documented as saying at the “Last Supper”
Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God. Mark 14:25
Which may have meant that he and some of his disciples may have taken a Nazaraite vow…one of the main tenets of a vow was not to drink wine until the vow was accomplished.
But women were expected to keep their hair long and braided and wound around their heads, also…with or without a Nazarite vow. A woman with long loose hair was a sinner. Leonardo used models from his own day who have worn their hair long, as some of the men do in his fresco.
There are now a lot of books and websites devoted to who exactly that is sitting to the right of Jesus…his right. I’m just going to quote one because it is a straightforward look…
Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper
- The next group is Judas, Peter, and John. Judas’s face is in shadow and he is clutching a small bag (of silver?). Peter is visibly angry, and a feminine-looking John seems about to swoon.
Is that John or Mary Magdalene Next to Jesus?
In “The Last Supper,” the figure at Christ’s right arm does not possess an easily identified gender. He’s not bald, or bearded, or anything we visually associate with “masculinity.” In fact, he looks feminine: As a result, some people, like the novelist Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code, have speculated that Da Vinci wasn’t depicting John at all, but rather Mary Magdalene. There are three very good reasons why Leonardo was likely not depicting Mary Magdalene.
1. Mary Magdalene wasn’t at the Supper.
Although she was present at the event, Mary Magdalene wasn’t listed among the people at the table in any of the four Gospels. According to Biblical accounts, her role was a minor supporting one. She wiped feet. John was eating with the others.
2. It would have been blatant heresy for Da Vinci to paint her there.
Late 15th-century Catholic Rome was not a period of enlightenment with regard to competing religious beliefs. The Inquisition began in the late 12th century France. The Spanish Inquisition began in 1478, and 50 years after “The Last Supper” was painted, Pope Paul II established the Congregation of the Holy Office of the Inquisition in Rome itself. The most famous victim of this office was in 1633, Leonardo’s fellow scientist Galileo Galilei.
Leonardo was an inventor and experimenter in all things, but it would have been worse than foolhardy for him to risk offending both his employer and his Pope.
3. Leonardo was known for painting effeminate men.
There is controversy over whether Leonardo was gay or not. Whether he was or wasn’t, he certainly devoted more attention to male anatomy and beautiful males in general, than he did to female anatomy or females. There are some rather sensuous young men depicted in his notebooks, complete with long, curly tresses and modestly downcast, heavy-lidded eyes. The faces of some of these men are similar to that of John.
The Da Vinci Code is interesting and thought-provoking, but it is a work of fiction and a creative tale woven by Dan Brown based on a bit of history, but going well above and beyond the historical facts.
For the Sake of Argument
So…perhaps…Leonardo was giving us a coded message…that “The Beloved Disciple John” is instead a woman…with long loose hair and a sinner in Jesus’ day or just a woman model in Leonardo’s day…with a special relationship to Jesus.
And, of course, I have a theory that it is Mariamne III who was the woman at the Last Supper…
A brief recap of my theory for those new to this blog…
- There were queens and princesses in Judea in the time of Jesus.
- They were of the Jewish royal house, the House of the Hasmoneans, the Maccabees who had ruled since about 160’s B.C.
- Mariamne I, the Great (Hasmonean) Queen, was married in a political alliance to Herod so the Roman-backed procurator could carry the title of King of the Jews.
- Mariamne was a dynastic name of royal women in Judea during Jesus lifetime.
- Herod had Mariamne I killed but built for her a grand tower on his new palace wall and called it Mariamne Tower...the word for “tower” is “magadan” or “magdal”.
- One of the granddaughters of Mariamne I was Mariamne III…She may well have been called the Magdalene. Mariamne Magdalene meaning she was of the “tower” lineage of the Great Queen. Another meaning for “magdal” is “great.” So…Mariamne I the “great queen” could also have been called Mariamne the Magdalene.
- If Mary Magdalene was at the Last Supper…she was there as his Queen Mother, the one with the bloodline…sitting at his right hand.
Back in the day, a king had many wives whose main mission in life was to represent her father/king/nation at the court of another king she had been married off to in a political alliance…and to bear an heir to the husband/king…each wife represented a treaty of some sort the king/nation had made. And David had a lot of wives. His son Solomon had an excessive number of wives. In one of David’s Psalms, the role of wife of the king was laid out…
Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth. Psalm 45:16
The wife of King David Christians hear the most about is Bathsheba because she won. Her son Solomon became the next king. Mothers of kings had a special role; that of intercessor with her son. I Kings gives a beautiful example…
Then sat Solomon upon the throne of David his father; and his kingdom was established greatly. And Adonijah the son of Haggith (another wife) came to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon. And she said, Comest thou peaceably? And he said Peaceably. He said moreover, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And she said, Say on. And he said, Thou knowest that the kingdom was mine, and that all Israel set their faces on me, that I should reign: howbeit the kingdom is turned about, and is become my brother’s: for it was his from the Lord (David). And now I ask one petition of thee, deny me not. And she said unto him, Say on. And he said, Speak, I pray thee, unto Solomon the king, (for he will not say thee nay,) and give me Abishag the Shunammite to wife. And Bathsheba said, Well; I will speak for thee unto the king. Bathsheba therefore went into king Solomon, to speak unto him for Adonijah. And the king rose up to meet her, and bowed himself unto her, and sat down on his throne, and caused a seat to be set for the king’s mother; and she sat on his right hand….I Kings 2:12-19
Queen Mother, A Biblical Theology of Mary’s Queenship by Edward Sri:
[In ancient Near Eastern kingdoms] monarchs practiced polygamy, a social anomaly which often resulted in the conflicting claims of rival wives. Accordingly, when a favorite royal son succeeded to the throne, his frequently owed his kingship to the influence of his mother, so that the dowager queen was wont to occupy a position of preeminence at court, sharing the glory and prerogatives of her son’s rule (quoting Barnabas Ahern)
There you have it…if the person on Jesus’ right hand was a woman…and kings put their closest “friends” and adviser at their right hand, the night before he went before the authorities to present his case that he was eligible to be the next “King of the Jews:” Judea had lost their king when Herod Archelaus was banished in 6 A.D. If so, then the woman beside him had to have been his mother…the bearer of his royal bloodline…the bloodline of Mariamne I the Great Queen. If the “Beloved Disciple/John person was instead Mariamne III called the Magdalene…she of the Tower/Magdal of the Queen, then the hidden message that Leonardo was sending us was “why was she leaning away from Jesus?” That is the real mystery.
P.S. Just to show that I am not the only one to think is way, I ran across the same deduction…that Mary Magdalene who was the wife of Jesus and at the Last Supper was actually Mary Jesus’ mother but coming from a different premise…that the Holy Grail legends thought to be about Mary Magdalene the wife of Jesus were about his mother. Graham Phillips in his book The Virgin Mary Conspiracy, the True Father of Christ and the Tomb of the Virgin (Bear & Company 2005) says this about Joseph of Arimathea and the Holy Grail:
Was Joseph’s Holy Grail actually the Virgin Mary? Is this what Giovanni Benedetti meant: “The Holy Mother was the Holy Grail?” From what I could gather from Father Rinsonelli’s Holy Office (Vatican Librarian) report, Benedetti (Giovanni Benedetti Vatican archaeologist) claimed to have found Mary’s tomb. In the legend, Joseph of Arimathea is charged by Jesus with the safety of the Grail. (The legend Joseph of Arimathea was the beloved disciple Jesus chose from the cross to take responsibility for his mother.) In the Bible he is charged by Jesus with the safety of his mother. In the legend, Joseph flees Palestine with the Holy Grail–the vessel that bore Christ’s blood. If I was right he had actually fled Palestine with the Virgin Mary–the vessel that brought Christ into the world.