Mary Magdalen: Myth and Metaphor

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9780151577651: Mary Magdalen: Myth and Metaphor

The traditional concept of Mary Magdalen has been one of a prostitute who devoted herself to following the ways of Jesus. All that readers know of the real Mary Magdalen comes from four biblical references in the gospels. Using evidence from early Christian writings, medieval sermons, and the art and literature of nearly 2,000 years, Haskins shows how Mary Magdalen came to epitomize the condition of women in the Church and in society. 90 illustrations.

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From Booklist:

Mary Magdalen. The name conjures up many images: sinner, follower of Christ, weeping penitent, first apostle. Viewed through the secular prism offered by literature and film, where the relationship between Mary and Jesus often takes a carnal turn (the other side of the coin from the Virgin Mary), our image of Mary Magdalen becomes even more complex. Haskins does a marvelous job of introducing the figure of Mary in all her richness, leading readers through not just the canonical gospels, but also the Gnostic gospels, Renaissance literature, art history, and even Victorian photographic pornography. Haskins can't be faulted for her scholarship (reams of notes append the text), but the real pleasure of this book for the layperson is its remarkable readability. Haskins makes it clear that the appeal of Mary (as both myth and metaphor) extends well beyond those interested in religion. There's much here, too, for anyone involved with feminist politics, sociology, and, of course, literature and art. This will be a welcome addition to libraries where biographies of men crowd the religion shelves. Ilene Cooper

From Publishers Weekly:

A fascinating journey through history and its texts (poems, plays, paintings, films) to see the many images of Mary Magdalen. What Haskins emphasizes as she reveals how each era has fashioned Mary Magdalen according to its own specific interests and desires, is that these differing representations consistently negate Mary Magdalen's powerful position in Christ's ministry. From her gospel roles as Christ's chief female disciple and His apostle to the apostles (roles Haskins finds elaborated in Gnostic texts), Mary Magdalen has been transformed into the penitent whore. As such, she has become the embodiment of the sinful frailty and temptations of her sex. Thus, Haskins shows, the Western Church has used its images of Mary Magdalen to justify and perpetuate the subordinate position of women. The importance of Haskins's book is that it turns Mary Magdalen into a symbol for women's right to full participation in Christian ministry. Illustrations not seen by PW. BOMC, History Book Club, QPB selections.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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