Decent Films Mail > Mailbag #14

Re: The Gospel of John (2003)

I purchased a video called The Gospel of John made in 2003. It’s a Canada/UK production. It seemed pretty good until we got to the “last Supper” part. Then things started falling apart. They show Mary Magdalene to be one of the apostles. She’s the only woman at the table and Jesus seems to be anointing her along with the apostles. Then she goes out to the garden with Jesus and the apostles. I find this to be heretical and would like to alert others to this deception. Thank you.

A sister

The Gospel of Johns depiction of Mary Magdalene is indeed problematic, though I wouldn’t call it heretical (since it is not formally contrary to any dogma of faith).

The portrayal of Mary Magdalene sitting side by side with the apostles at the Last Supper reflects a Protestant sensibility toward the status of the apostles, the Last Supper itself and the role of women in the Church.

The Catholic belief that at the Last Supper Jesus commissioned the apostles specifically to offer the eucharistic sacrifice, thereby making them priests, is not reflected in this film. (Of course, John’s Gospel doesn’t recount the institution of the Last Supper, so it’s not as problematic here as it would be in a Synoptic presentation.)

This is not the only problem with the film. As I noted in my review, the Good News Bible rendering of John 6:55 (“My flesh is the real food, and my blood is the real drink”) seems to give figurative spin to Jesus’ emphasis on the literal truth of his words.

While it is important to be aware of these and other limitations in the film, I find that its strengths outweigh its weaknesses, and it is still worth recommending as an honorable though imperfect attempt to bring the words of the Gospel to life in a visual form.

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