On the symbolic role of Mary Magdalene in the Baha’i tradition as a female archetype in the context of the doctrine of "return," and thus linked to the poet Tahirih, heroine of the Babi-Baha’i dispensation.
Abstract: This paper examines the role of Mary Magdalene in the Baha’i tradition. ‘Abdu’l Baha, son of the founder of the Baha’i Faith, spoke of Mary Magdalene on numerous occasions, referring to her as the ‘Lioness of God’ and extolling her as an exemplar to his followers, ‘My hope is that each one of you may become as Mary Magdalene – for this woman was superior to all the men of her time and her reality is ever shining from the horizon of Christ.’ Mary Magdalene is portrayed as a female archetype in the context of the doctrine of ‘return’ which describes how in each revelatory cycle the phenomenon of recurring archetypal events and dramatis personae occur. Mary Magdalene is thus linked to the Persian Poet Tahirih, the immortal heroine of the Babi-Baha’i dispensation. 'Abdu'l-Bahá portrays Mary Magdalene as a courageous woman, venturing out into a hostile and dangerous environment, firmly determined to fulfil her mission and propagate the Cause of God. By doing so, she provided a role-model for the fearful followers of Jesus who had gone into hiding. The parallels to Tahirih, in terms of courage, determination and leadership qualities, cannot be overlooked.