Divine Mother, Blessed Mother: Hindu Goddesses and the Virgin Mary

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The Virgin Mary has long been the object of both devotional and scholarly interest, and recent years have seen a proliferation of studies on Hindu goddess-worship traditions. Despite the parallels between the two, however, no one has yet undertaken a book-length comparison of these traditions. In Divine Mother, Blessed Mother, Francis Clooney offers the first extended comparative study of Hindu goddesses and the Virgin Mary. Clooney is almost unique in the field of Hindu studies as a Christian theologian with the linguistic and philosophical expertise necessary to produce sophisticated comparative analyses. Building on his previous work in comparative theology, he sheds new light not only on these individual traditions but also on the nature of gender and the divine.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Divine Mother, Blessed Mother is a groundbreaking study of comparative theology as well as a beautiful book to enjoy, a work that appears to be as much the fruit of devotion and meditation as of scholarship and philosophical reflection." —Theological Studies

"...a notable achievement. It allows new questions to flow about the nature of the divine, letting gender issues take their rightful place in mutually enriching conversation." —WATERwheel

"Divine Mother, Blessed Mother is a signal contribution to the growing theological literature on goddesses. Indebted to feminist scholarship and promoting women's well-being, Francis X. Clooney provides a close reading of Hindu and Christian texts, offering an elegant, accessible, and insightful treatment of Sri, Devi, Apirami, and Mary. His genius is in sparking their mutual conversation on their own terms. Clooney invites the reader in, and lets the theological implications flow as they will. Interreligious work is enriched immeasurably by this creative contribution."—Mary E. Hunt, Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual

"Many have looked forward to this kind of book for years....Reading each of the paired texts allows for extraordinary illumination between the two, as the author gives close textual analyses dealing with theology, the use of images, and textual and ritual structures. A final essay is especially valuable, as it focuses on some of the larger, broader questions of goddess worship."—CHOICE

"Francis Clooney is virtually unique in the field of Hindu Studies as a Catholic theologian with the linguistic and philosophical expertise necessary to produce sophisticated comparative analyses. Written at the intersection of feminist studies, Hindu theology, and Catholic theology, Divine Mother, Blessed Mother is a juxtaposition of three Hindu goddess-centered and three Catholic Marian texts with the aim of investigating the relationship of gender imagery to the practical purpose of liberation. This is an invitation for feminists to view male-authored depictions of sensuous female figures as potentially undermining, not expressive, of patriarchal values; for Catholics to gain empathy for Hindu goddess worship; and for scholars of comparative religion to learn from a master of the art."—Rachel Fell McDermott, Barnard College

"Francis X. Clooney, S.J. once again demonstrates the value of a comparative approach to theology. Through a close textual analysis of particular hymns from each tradition, this study of Hindu goddess traditions in relation to Christian understandings of Mary reveals fresh insight into both traditions and raises new questions to each. Entering both into the vigorous contemporary discussion of gender and divinity, and into the largely intra-Roman Catholic discussion of the historical and symbolic dimensions of Mary's role, Clooney's work is both substantive and provocative. I expect it will engender lively and productive dialogue." —Mary E. Hines, Emmanuel College

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195170375
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 11/11/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 9.40 (w) x 6.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Francis X. Clooney, S.J. is a Catholic priest and member of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). He is Professor of Comparative Theology at Boston College, where he has taught since 1984, and was the first president of the Society for Hindu-Christian Studies. He is the author of many books, most recently Hindu God, Christian God: How Reason Helps Break Down the Boundaries between Religions (OUP, 2001).

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Table of Contents

1 Sri, Devi, Apirami, and Mary : who and why 3
2 Sri in the Sri Guna Ratna Kosa : divine equality, divine pleasure; in light of the Akathistos 109
3 Devi in the Saundarya Lahari : from bliss to beauty; in light of the Stabat Mater 153
4 Apirami in the Apirami Antati : finding her within; in light of the Mataracamman Antati 187
5 Three Hindu goddesses, Mary, and reading ahead 219
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