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The Secret Magdalene (Collector's…
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The Secret Magdalene (Collector's Series) (original 2005; edition 2007)

by Ki Longfellow, Bernadette Dunne (Narrator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3954727,097 (4.66)68
merryme's review
Stunning. Changed my mind and my life. This book MUST stay in print for all those like me who need meaning and great writing and a great story. ( )
14 vote merryme | Nov 22, 2009 |
All member reviews
Showing 1-25 of 47 (next | show all)
The Secret Magdalene gathers elements in the Christ myth as conceived in the Gnostic tradition, and unifies them through the character of Mariamne / Mary Magdal-Eder / Mary Magdalene. Longfellow imagines the actions of Jesus / Jehoshua as a deliberate effort to craft a Jewish godman myth, after the myth of Osiris. The book itself reinforces the idea the Bible usefully can be read this way: in effect a constellation of important themes and positions, arranged as a story; and not as divine revelation as advocated by the Roman Catholic Church.

Brings home the End Times atmosphere prevalent among many during the life of Jesus, the competing doctrines and sects such as the Essenes, the Sicarii, the sense of urgency driving their members.

Nice evocation of landscape and geography.

Intriguing portrayal of the family of Jesus and his cousin John of the River / John the Baptiser: presumably not all were so related within the Bible as edited by Deuteronomists? I'm not sufficiently familiar with the Bible narratives to identify when & how Longfellow changed or invented relations, or to assess how plausible these relations are. Similarly, unclear how closely the Biblical stories such as the Woman at the Well were followed in this story.

Hieratic to the extent Longfellow first references explicitly the doctrine of constructing a godman myth as a medicinal lie, then proceeds to relate her story (which, in fact, follows that narrative). Suggests Longfellow's story is itself a Socratic teaching.

Also raises the possibility the tale is constructed as a variant of the Memory Palace, predicated on the structural elements of narrative rather than architecture. This possibility in turn suggests that Longfellow's story would be useful primarily as a mnemonic, that is: to recall facts and concepts, and prompt reflection thereupon, and not as the initial presentation of the argument or concepts. Yet for all but an extremely small minority of readers, the story will be just that, the first encounter of the argument, not an engaged recollection of it. Of course the author would anticipate that situation: does she play with that duality, with a separate intent for each audience? Use it pragmatically as a means for propagating the meme (an established hieratic practice)? ( )
  elenchus | May 12, 2012 |
While I enjoyed the story, this novel was too academic for me, especially all the references to the various tribes and their beliefs. I thought it took a lot away from this adaptation of Magdalene. ( )
  cacky | Feb 9, 2011 |
This is a superb novel that assumes that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were a couple during his life and that once he had died, she was the focus of one among several teaching/preaching groups. Its ideas follow on from the (non-canonical) Gospel of Philip. Thought provoking. ( )
9 vote PeterClack | Aug 6, 2010 |
I really loved this book... eagerly awaiting the third (this is the first) in her series. ( )
13 vote CynWetzel | Jan 18, 2010 |
Stunning. Changed my mind and my life. This book MUST stay in print for all those like me who need meaning and great writing and a great story. ( )
14 vote merryme | Nov 22, 2009 |
Now I'm a Texan and a Christian but that doesn't mean I'm dumb and never ask any questions. I'm always asking questions, just ask my children and my grandchildren. So reading this book was like reading about me, Mary Magdalene was so full of questions. I just loved her and I loved Jesus of course and it could have been like this, and it just about broke my heart. But at the same time it lifted me higher than any preacher or minister ever has in my whole life. This book is like a long gospel but one that makes a whole lot of sense and I LOVED it even as it made me hurt all over. I just read a new book by this writer about Hypatia of Alexandria called Flow Down Like Silver: Hypatia of Alexandria and I reviewed that too. ( )
14 vote Rosemarieme | Oct 30, 2009 |
This is one of those books that inspires me to get better. If I can ever do this well I shall be almost happy ( )
17 vote | amylouiseP | Sep 30, 2009 |
This book is the best read I've had in a long time. It's now my favorite modern book. Since I'm not a Catholic or even a Christian anymore, nothing offended me. Actually, it excited me and brought me closer to ideas about reality that any church teaching I ever suffered through. But it's more than that. It's also an exciting read. ( )
18 vote Maris00 | Aug 28, 2009 |
Profound book. Great ideas. Great writing. ( )
17 vote Rubyspoon | Aug 12, 2009 |
I am not sure what made me choose this book except for the fact that it was on sale for $5 bucks on the clearance table. It promised to be a 'DaVinci Code' diversionary pulp fiction read that I occassionally indulge in. The subject matter re: the Gnostic Gospels and the alleged secret, pivotal role Mary Magdalene played in the Christ story is quite interesting -- but honestly the execution of the novel was dreadful.

I think the scholarship and theory that Ms. Longfellow put into the novel is admirable -- I did enjoy the content regarding the ancient philosophers: Pythagoreas, Socrates, the Carmelites, the Egyptians -- and I certainly learned some things I didn't know. For instance, who knew that 'the greatest story ever told' is not an original? So again, based on all this fascinating information -- I should have liked this book more.

Unfortunately, the writing style was dull, repetitive faux Biblical prose - I guess in an attempt to sound authentic. Instead, the dry style served to make the reader feel detached from these rather bland characters (about the only character I liked was Eio the donkey.) The structure and pacing was uneven; devoid of dramatic tension except for perhaps the ending. I thought she pulled her narrative together some in the closing scenes in Jeruselem, and Golgotha - but really - too little, too late.

I cannot really decide whether it is worth reading or not -- For me, I am glad to have been introduced to the idea of gnosis - given my own religious predilection or lack thereof. But I am so sure that there is better material out there -- this could have been so much better. ( )
3 vote jhowell | Aug 12, 2009 |
What a book. Profound, wonderfully written and brilliantly imaged. ( )
16 vote HawkinsToo | Jul 27, 2009 |
This book was wonderful. I truly felt like I was there and lived through the whole storyline. I also loved Longfellow's take on the life of Jesus. I was originally going to rate this 4 1/2 stars instead of a perfect 5 because I found the long pages dealing with philoshophy to be a bit dry and tedious to get through, but the last 100 pages of the book was so intense and fantastic that I had to give it a 5. This is a story that will stay with you a long while after you have finished it. ( )
19 vote Iudita | Jul 19, 2009 |
This book takes a little effort but it is soooo worth it. It is not a beach read and it is not something to skim looking for the good bits. It's a work of art, flawed as most art is, but art. And it glows with wisdom. ( )
19 vote gorgeousglenda | Jul 7, 2009 |
Tremendous book. A classic in the making. Read it open-hearted and enraptured. ( )
18 vote | StellaAura | May 28, 2009 |
I actually believe I've just read a masterpiece of historical fiction, and not just historical fiction but fiction period.” ( )
19 vote RayL | May 22, 2009 |
I'd just read Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love" and found it both intriguing as well as annoying. I don't have the lovely freedom to just take off around the world. I don't know many who do. But I realize that has nothing to do with Gilbert's journey, that's just me being whiny. So when I picked up The Secret Magdalene I expected to feel a bit of the same. Wrong. The writer of this book knows what Gilbert was seeking already, how I couldn't say, but she's talking about it through the story we all know and some of us believe is the absolute truth---the Christ story. I got more out of this book than from years of sitting in an ashram or on a pew. I found myself at times almost weeping with discovery. The only reason I kept back a half star is because nothing is perfect and I would offend the book by calling it perfect. It's small imperfections make it even more moving. ( )
19 vote Heremebe | May 11, 2009 |
Very impressed. I love books that make me look at things differently and at the same time are compulsive reading. Not a common combination. ( )
18 vote EstelleK | May 3, 2009 |
Didn't bother rating all my other books since they're the best. But this one is an odd one for me. As a scientist, it was a curious read, yet compelling. Einstein said all breakthroughs in science come from a sudden insight, not laborious thought. This book is that insight for me. I'm now furiously thinking about all I think I know about reality. Also liked reading outside my personal box. This is a book I'll have to read again. ( )
18 vote MarcusMilton | Apr 29, 2009 |
A very big book. An important book. A book to read and reread. Every night as I read it, I looked forward to my time with Mariamne, savored each word, jumped out of my skin at special moments. Great book. ( )
19 vote DaphneJ | Apr 18, 2009 |
Brilliant exploration of the gnostic experience through a retelling of the West's most influential myth/truth. Stunning grasp of the issues. For the lay reader, a glorious adventure story. ( )
17 vote SimonPaulus | Apr 15, 2009 |
Longfellow, hero. ( )
17 vote | IsawEloise | Apr 13, 2009 |
I'm having trouble knowing how to review a book like this. I guess readers might think it's a religious book, but it's not. It isn't religious at all, not as I understand the word which is, I think, a system for boxing up a search for meaning into a package and then those on top controlling everyone else's mind through that box. This book is just the opposite. The opening of all the boxes and freeing all the minds. It freed mine. But it's done in such a clever and interesting way I must sit and ponder a bit before I can tackle a real review. This is just a placeholder until I can find the words to tell you how important and wonderful this book is. Unless it offends your "box." Then I suppose you might not like it at all. ( )
15 vote PamelaHornsby | Apr 13, 2009 |
Just finished this book. It's my favorite book. My mind is still spinning. What a ride artistically, mentally and spiritually. ( )
14 vote SmartaMarta | Apr 13, 2009 |
This entire subject is usually not my thing, but I make a huge exception for this one. Recommended by a colleague in my own field (philosophy), I can’t thank him enough. If this one had been around when I was teaching, I should have offered it as part of my “You Have to Read This” or go to the back of the class. The writing is lovely and very appropriate to its subject, the tale is as good as the best in my favorite genre (fantasy, magical quests), but the grasp of philosophy, the reach! I am very impressed and happily give this one five star ( )
15 vote KQuest | Apr 8, 2009 |
I've just finished this book and I am sure I will start all over again tomorrow. I've only done this once before when I just couldn't stand to leave the world I'd lived in as long as I read my book. It was if I was there, walking with these people, struggling against a world of ignorance and ugliness that cannot see beauty. What is different now? What a beautiful book. I recommend it to anyone who loves language and literature and the search for the spiritual. There are, I admit, moments some might call boring or difficult. For me they were thrilling passages filled with ideas. But if that isn't for you, skip them, but don't skip this book. Look at the sales of Tolle or someone like Tolle. You can have what you seek from Tolle (and don't get) here, in this book. Plus adventure and character and tears and love. Wow. I can't say enough. ( )
13 vote LyndaHopper | Apr 6, 2009 |
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