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Mary Magdalen: Myth and Metaphor Paperback – December 1, 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Trade (December 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573225096
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573225090
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.2 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,086,572 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In The Last Temptation of Christ , Nikos Kazantzakis calls Mary Magdalen "sexual temptation personified." According to Haskins, an English author and translator, she is "woman, flesh--the universal, timeless symbol of man's temptation to stray from God." From this psychosexual quagmire Haskins hopes to redeem her. The author chronologically delivers an erudite, comprehensive look at the myriad myths and metaphors surrounding Mary Magdalen, starting with the Gospel record itself, then tracing Western written history up to and including the Church of England's momentous decision to ordain women in 1992. Haskins obviously enjoys her subject. The tangled web of male sexual paranoia, ecclesiastical machinations, and cultural mores are eloquently presented in this rich biographical tapestry of the much-maligned "first apostle." Extensively noted and well documented, this is highly recommended for religion, seminary, and women's studies collections.
- Sandra Collins, SLIS, Univ. of Pittsburgh
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Mick McAllister on January 30, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's a silly shame that this wonderful book is out-of-print when the Code Mania would sell it like hotcakes. It is, without a competitor, the best all-around book on Mary Magdalene. Buy Karen L. King's translation of the Gospel of Mary if you want an intense but engaging lesson in theology, Jane Schaberg's *The Resurrection of Mary Magdalene* if you want a solid feminist critique, or Margaret Starbird's *The Woman with the Alabaster Jar* if you are looking for New Age speculation, but it's Haskins who pulls it all together.

Tracing the idea of Mary Magdalene from the Biblical (and "heretical") sources to present-day manifestations in film and novel, she provides a survey of the changing role of women and sexuality in Occidental culture, generously illustrated with depictions of the Magdalene. She shows how the "shamed prostitute" myth got its start, examines the claims of connection between Mary and France, and provides a very funny account of the Church supported habit of "relic snatching" that accounts for Mary's "relics" moving here and there from this monastery to that church.

All in all, it is a heavy but interesting read, with no polemic axe to grind. Start here.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 14, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Haskins does an excellent job in bringing us virtually every relevant piece of useful information about Mary Magdalene. It's all discussed here -- Mary Magdalene in Scripture, non-canonical Christian literature, artwork, history, myths, and legends. An important work about an important historical and spiritual figure.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 31, 1998
Format: Hardcover
It's tempting to call Susan Haskins' book the most definitive work about Mary Magdalene currently on the market. So much information is presented that it takes awhile for the casual reader to wade through all of the details. The density of the information provided could place it in a "reference" category, but there is definitely enough serious research and intriguing conclusions to make reading it from cover to cover a worthwhile endeavor.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Isabelle on October 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is THE MOST AMAZING book on Mary Magdalen. Susan Haskins goes through the image/personna of the magdalen from the Biblical roots to our pop-culture. The primary references are excellent, it is well put together, it is PERFECT!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is truly a brilliant dedication and devotion from Susan Haskins to the modern surfacing of Mary Magdalene. I believe that she has made an inspirational and scholarly entry into a field which is conspicously absent of female theologians. With this book as reference, the interested reader can find numerous starting points into the dark and tangled woods which, for two thousand years, have been blocking the paths leading to Mary Magdalene and a balanced spirituality.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Katherine Alexandra, the Christian on March 23, 2007
Format: Paperback
It was Pope Gregory who began the notion that Mary Magdalene was a fallen woman and the story stuck even after Vatican 2 in 1969. This is a pre-Da Vinci code take on the historical Mary Magdalene. There have been many edits to the Bible, to church history, to the lives of key figures from the earliest origins of Christianity ... and in sorting out fact from fiction ... one must seek to understand the context of teachings first before just blindly believing anything presented to them. Mary Magdalene became an icon of the fallen dangerous women and was used to subjugate women in many levels of church politics. Her history is one of the most controversial topics in the church .... and well worth exploring to understand the intention behind her image.
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