Susan Haskins provides a marvelous overview of the many contradictory perspectives on Mary Magdalene, one of Jesus' followers and the first witness to his resurrection. Most people think that Mary is also the repentant prostitute in the Gospels, who wept for her sins and accepted Jesus as her master.

But this baleful figure is light years away from the Gnostic understanding of Mary Magdalene as a close companion of Jesus and the one that he loved most during his time on Earth. Thanks to the various apocryphal gospels, we see her in a new light as the apostle to the apostles, the one who most incisively understood Jesus' message and mission. Using a broad range of material from ancient Christian writings, medieval sermons, devotional works, and the art and literature of nearly 2,000 years, Haskins challenges us to think afresh about Mary Magdalene and what she means to us.