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Mary Magdalene: A Biographyby Bruce Chilton
Synopses & Reviews
In Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code, Mary Magdalene is the key. She is the Holy Grail, the wife of Jesus, mother of his child, a Jewish princess from the house of Benjamin, an embodiment of the pagan earth mother whom the Catholic Church has sought to marginalize and suppress for thousands for years. And while The DaVinci Code is fiction, its massive popularity does point to the fact that Mary is the great untold story of Western culture. MARY MAGDALENE capitalizes on the long-standing popular interest in Mary Magdalene, Which has been piqued by Dan Brown. Who was Mary? What can we know about her? What was her relationship to Jesus? What part did she play in his ministry? What was her influence on early Christianity? What caused her to become such a controversial figure and inspire so many legends? These are the questions that world-renowned biblical scholar Bruce Chilton seeks to answer in MARY MAGDALENE: A BIOGRAPHY-- and the answers will surprise many readers. For instance many readers believe the tradition that Mary was a penitent prostitute, but there is absolutely no historical evidence to support this claim. In fact, Bruce Chilton brilliantly makes the case for regarding Mary as a sophisticated religious thinker in her own right. For the first time, Mary is presented in all her authority and complexity. Both reviled and revered throughout the ages, Mary is a controversial figure in Christianity--she could have no better biographer that Bruce Chilton, author of our own Rabbi Jesus and Rabbi Paul.
"With the popularity of The Da Vinci Code, Mary Magdalene has become the 'it girl' of biblical studies. Bard professor of religion Chilton (Rabbi Jesus; Rabbi Paul) adds another volume to the already groaning shelves of books on the enigmatic woman. As Chilton admits, the gospels contain very little explicit information about her, but he uses what fragments are there to imaginatively reconstruct her life and world. Mary's hometown, Magdala, was a wealthy Roman outpost, but contrary to legend, there is no indication that she was affluent. In fact, as Chilton points out, she came to Jesus in the garb of the poor; she was likely demon-possessed; and she was an outcast from her community. Drawing from the gospels (especially Luke 8), Gnostic writings and later Christian legends, Chilton shows the ways in which the Christian traditions have maligned Mary. Far from being simply the prostitute of legend, Chilton argues, Mary of Magdala offers us the spiritual gifts of dissolving evil (exorcism), providing unguents for sickness and sin (anointing) and understanding the truth of Resurrection (vision). While Chilton's rather stilted book is mostly speculative and offers little new information, it offers a satisfactory survey of attitudes toward Mary from the Middle Ages to today." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A lively re-interpretation of the life and times of one of the Bible's most misunderstood figures describes Mary Magdalene's key role in the ministry of Jesus and the development of early Christianity, tracing the changing images of Mary and the legends surrounding her and exploring why the Church sought to marginalize her significance. 25,000 first printing.
Throughout history, Mary Magdalene has been both revered and reviled, a woman who has taken on many forms-witch, whore, the incarnation of the eternal feminine, the devoted companion (and perhaps even the wife) of Jesus. In this new biography, biblical scholar Chilton offers an
About the Author
BRUCE CHILTON is the Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Religion at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson and priest at the Free Church in Saint John in Barrytown, New York. He is the author of many scholarly articles and books, including the widely acclaimed Rabbi Jesus and Rabbi Paul.
Table of Contents
Prologue: Marguerite — Possessed — The Magdalene — Secret exorcism — Mary's signature — Nameless anointer — "Thy name is as oil poured forth" — Transfiguration at the tomb — Ecstatic vision — The scar — Expurgating the Magdalene — Orthodox ambivalence and the Gnostic quest — The breakout — The goddess and the vixen — Afterword: Relics of the Magdalene.
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