Mary Magdalene: Women, the Church, and the Great Deception

Adriana Valerio, trans. from the Italian by Wendy Wheatley. Europa, $18 (128p) ISBN 978-1-60945-705-1
Italian scholar Valerio (Maria Montessori) reveals a “great deception” at the heart of Mary Magdalene’s legacy in this persuasive analysis. Contending that basic facts of Mary’s life—she was a close companion of Jesus and the first to see him after the Resurrection—have been replaced by interpretations rooted in misogyny—she was a sinner and prostitute—Valerio explains how, for centuries, Christian women have sought to claim Mary as more than the “companion” of Christ and an early symbol of female authority. Valerio argues that Mary became a contested figure in the fight for authority in the early church and was revered by Gnostics but sidelined in the writings of St. Paul that eventually shaped the structures of the church. Even as medieval church leaders recognized Mary as an “apostle of the apostles,” they held her up as a model of the penitent sinner for women, who they believed needed grace more than men because of Eve’s sinfulness. Valerio’s grasp on early Christian literature is strong, and it’s assumed readers will come to this with a solid grounding in the topic, as there is little in the way of context or discussion. Academics working in Christianity should get much from this well-argued study. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 06/10/2021
Release date: 11/01/2021
Genre: Religion
Open Ebook - 128 pages - 978-1-60945-706-8
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