Mary Magdalene: Saint or Sinner?

A new wave of literature is cleaning up her reputation. How a woman of substance was harlotized

The gorgeous female cryptographer and the hunky college professor are fleeing the scene of a ghastly murder they did not commit. In the midst of their escape, which will eventually utilize an armored car, a private jet, electronic-surveillance devices and just enough unavoidable violence to keep things interesting, our heroes seek out the one man who holds the key not only to their exoneration but also to a mystery that could change the world. To help explain it to them, crippled, jovial, fabulously wealthy historian Sir Leigh Teabing points out a figure in a famous painting.

"'Who is she?' Sophie...