Mary Magdalene and the Life of Judith in Life of Brian

In: Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus
James CrossleyMF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society, Oslo, Norway

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This article provides a snapshot of how Mary Magdalene was understood in 1970s Britain through the character of Judith in Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Judith as presented in Life of Brian is compared with Mary Magdalene as presented in Jesus Christ Superstar, especially the receptions of the hit musical in newspapers of the time where there was a recurring focus on sexuality and gender stereotypes. The comparison shows that, while Life of Brian may not be the most progressive film in terms of gender and sexuality, it did challenge some of these stereotypes about Mary Magdalene by normalizing Judith’s attitude towards sex and making her (largely) a voice of reason in the film.

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