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The Woman with the Alabaster Jar: Mary Magdalen and the Holy Grail Paperback – June 1, 1993
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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“Margaret Starbird is a seeker after truth. She seeks to recover the long-suppressed, and not infrequently emotionally opposed, feminine side of the Christian story. Hers is an exciting narrative probing regions of thought long neglected. Magdalen, the Great Mary, emerges with new power.” (John Shelby Spong, Episcopal bishop and author of Born of a Woman)
"This fascinating and courageous narrative takes a fresh look at the true meaning of the Holy Grail and the defeminization of the early church, and comes up with some shocking revelations that may change the way one perceives Christianity forever." (Nexus)
"Margaret Starbird's work is of particular interest to me because it fuses the diverse fields of symbolism, mythology, art, heraldry, psychology, and gospel history. Her research opens doors for each of us to further explore the rich iconography of our own spiritual history." (Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code)
"Offers an alternative view of Christianity for women. . . . It cannot be ignored." (Publishers Weekly)
"Provocative and controversial--it will outrage some and give hope to others." (Catholic Women's Network)
"As Starbird says, 'No wonder icons of Mary weep!' " (National Catholic Reporter)
From the Back Cover
WOMEN’S STUDIES / CREATION SPIRITUALITY
“Margaret Starbird’s work is of particular interest to me because it fuses the diverse fields of symbolism, mythology, art, heraldry, psychology, and gospel history. Her research opens doors for each of us to further explore the rich iconography of our own spiritual history.”
--Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code
“Margaret Starbird is a seeker after truth. She seeks to recover the long-suppressed, and not infrequently emotionally opposed, feminine side of the Christian story. Hers is an exciting narrative probing regions of thought long neglected. Magdalen, the Great Mary, emerges with new power.”
--John Shelby Spong, Episcopal bishop and author of Born of a Woman
“This fascinating and courageous narrative takes a fresh look at the true meaning of the Holy Grail and the defeminization of the early church and comes up with some shocking revelations that may change the way one perceives Christianity forever.”
Margaret Starbird’s theological beliefs were profoundly shaken when she read Holy Blood, Holy Grail, a book that dared to suggest that Jesus Christ was married to Mary Magdalen and that their descendants carried on his holy bloodline in Western Europe. Shocked by such heresy, this Roman Catholic scholar set out to refute it, but instead found new and compelling evidence for the existence of the bride of Jesus--the same enigmatic woman who anointed him with precious unguent from her “alabaster jar.”
In this provocative book, Starbird draws her conclusions from an extensive study of history, heraldry, symbolism, medieval art, mythology, psychology, and the Bible itself. The Woman with the Alabaster Jar is a quest for the forgotten feminine--in the hope that its return will help restore a healthy balance to planet Earth.
MARGARET STARBIRD is the author of The Goddess in the Gospels, Magdalene’s Lost Legacy, and Mary Magdalene: Bride in Exile. She lives near Seattle, Washington.
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Unfortunately, the author digresses into a detailed discussion of the symbolism in thirteenth century art. This very dry and tedious treatment did not hold my interest, and failed to convince me of the connection to the author’s hypothesis. It was with shear willpower that I didn’t abandon the book, but persevered to the end.
This 200 page book is really 3 books in 1. The first 22 pages, labeled a prologue, are a small novella about Mary and Jesus. Chapters 1 to 3 discuss the historical evidence for Mary Magdalene, and the remaining chapters discuss the role that Mary Magdalene (and the sacred feminine) played in the art and folklore of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Think of the third part as an excellent supplement to HGBG
Starbird's case and the work on Mary Magdalene is by now standard fare, although in 1992 (pre DaVinci Code) it was pretty revolutionary - Jesus and Mary were married...for various reasons the church hid this fact...they had a child...Mary fled to France after Jesus was crucified where the bloodline of Jesus continued to develop...etc. Where Starbird goes beyond the HBHG tradition is in her emphasis on the "sacred marriage" and its implications. This theme she carries from the OT to the NT and right through the Middle Ages up until the present. Her work is thoughtful, documented, creative, and insightful.
I have some disagreements with Starbird about some of her historical assumptions (e.g., Jesus was "taller than average", he was from Nazareth, nailed to the cross and pierced through the heart with a spear). These are all relatively minor points and all refer to Jesus, not Mary.
With regard to the historical Mary Magdalene, Starbird does cover some basic ground, but she will elaborate in greater and deeper detail in her later books. The strength of this book is the breadth of her coverage of the influence of Mary Magdalene on 1000 years of artwork and folklore, from the fairy tales of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunsel, and Snow White to the foundation of the Tarot cards to the works of Botticelli and beyond.
The bottom line is that this book is a must for any serious person with any interest in the New Testament. It will be particularly beneficial for someone with a wide range of interests beyond the traditional biblical studies approach.
There was obviously a lot of research that went into this book and I must admit that it was very intriguing. Yet I could not bring myself to believe most of it. There seemed to be a lot of leaps made between some of the information. But I do think there is enough here to warrant some more research on the subject. It would be tough to find out much of what happened because of the Inquisition and the fact that the Roman-Catholic Church purged most of the records of other religions as they stepped on them throughout time as being heresy.
In short the beginning of the book really pulled me in but from the mid point on I felt that it was a bit reaching in trying to defend the ideas it presented. But it certainly is a good book to read in combination with other books on the subject. Just don't make it your first and only one on Christianity.