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"This book is controversial. It will make you think. It is also well researched, and well documented. . . . I found the book, and the CD, well worth my time."
"This book successfully achieves bringing together the areas of mythology, symbolism, heraldry, psychology, legend, and gospel history about Mary Magdalene."
"Through text, through relation to the scriptures; through a series of beautifully done color photographs from artists such as Peter Paul Reubens, El Greco, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti; and through hearing Starbird's own voice on the accompanying CD, we come to understand who Mary the Magdalene is, and the part she played, and still plays, in the sacred feminine and in the lives of all women."
". . . highly recommended for feminist collections . . ."
"Starbird not only explores the different theories on Mary, she gives biblical and other evidence to back up or dispute the claims made, instead of just spouting unsubstantiated opinions, as are so often heard regarding this woman from history.
"I found myself really enjoying this book, and had a hard time putting it down. It’s easy to read, and extremely interesting."
from Chapter 2
Apostle to the Apostles
Equal to Peter
Contemporary scholars have reexamined the literary record and have noted significant points that establish the special character and legacy of Mary Magdalene, particularly regarding the issue of women’s power and leadership roles in the early Christian community. Women teachers and deaconesses must have been seen as threatening by various Church fathers who gradually succeeded in eroding the influence of women. But honest students of Christianity’s sacred texts are confronted with bluntly stated negative testimony regarding the character of Peter in contrast to that of Mary Magdalene. Although the gospel account states that Peter received the “keys of the kingdom” (Matthew 16:19), he often misunderstands the teachings and mission of Jesus, and is on one occasion admonished for not recognizing that Jesus faced imminent death.
In contrast, Mary apparently comprehends the teachings fully; she even accepts and prophetically proclaims the Messiah’s impending death by her act of anointing him: “She has anointed me in advance for my burial” (Mark 14:8; Matthew 26:12). And in John’s gospel, Jesus requests that Mary keep the remainder of the precious ointment she used to anoint him for the day of his burial, thus setting up the scene at the tomb where she goes alone to anoint his body and finds him resurrected.
After the arrest of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter denies his master three times before the cock crows (Matthew 26:74). The senior apostle, styled as the leader of the fledgling community, fails to show up for the procession of the cross through the streets of Jerusalem, and is again notably absent at the scene of the Crucifixion. By contrast, Mary Magdalene follows Jesus through the streets of Jerusalem (plate 3) and is present at Golgotha, surrounded by other devoted women, including the mother of Jesus and, by various accounts, Johanna and Mary/Salome. Peter and the ten other apostles—one would not expect Judas to be among them—are conspicuous by their absence in each gospel account of the Passion. While the chosen male apostles are in hiding, the female friends and kinswomen of Jesus, led by Mary Magdalene, faithfully support him with their presence throughout his agony, and they return to his tomb to minister to him even in death.
The Preeminent Disciple
All afternoon, Mary Magdalene kept a sorrowful vigil at the foot of the cross on the hill of Golgotha, supported by several other devoted followers of Jesus, including his mother and the beloved disciple (possibly Magdalene’s own brother, the youth Lazarus), but not Peter, not James, not Andrew or Levi nor any of the others who had been officially called by Jesus to discipleship. The gospels were not written until after the executions of both Peter and Paul in Rome, possibly associated with brutal persecutions of Christians by the Roman emperor Nero in the mid-60s. Only after the death of Paul do accounts of the earthly ministry of the historical Jesus appear in written form. One might wonder if the gospel narratives were written in part to reaffirm the special status enjoyed by women in the early Christian community, and especially to reassert the preeminence of Mary Magdalene among the Messiah’s followers, a position significantly absent in Paul’s epistles and Luke’s Acts of the Apostles.
Exegetes of the New Testament note with some surprise that Paul never mentions Jesus’ ministry, his teachings or travels, and has virtually nothing to say about his life on earth. Instead, Paul’s epistles discuss theological interpretations of the Crucifixion, resurrection, and imminent return of Jesus to establish his kingdom—an apocalyptic view obviously at variance with early statements attributed to Jesus about the nature of the reign of God that is already spread out around us, within us, or in our midst. An apparent disconnect exists between these expressed expectations of the kingdom. Because Paul had relentlessly persecuted Christians before his dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus, we might easily understand why Peter and the family of Jesus would distrust him. This may have been grounds, as well, for sheltering information concerning Mary Magdalene’s identity and whereabouts from him, protecting her from the self-proclaimed apostle who did not enjoy their full confidence.
For whatever reason, Paul never mentions Mary Magdalene/of Bethany in his epistles, though he does mention several other women who were active in ministry at the dawn of Church history. These prominent women in the early Church included the deaconess Phoebe, Prisca, and Junia; and in his Epistle to the Romans, Paul greets several other women by name—Mary, Persis, Tryphosa, and Tryphaena—and other sisters in their faith community (Romans 16:6, 12).
That these women receive mention at all establishes the surprising fact of their significance. Numerous archeological excavations of churches dating from the early Christian era include mosaics and frescos depicting women in ceremonial vestments indicating their official status within the faith community, leadership roles later denied them by the orthodox tradition of an exclusively male priesthood modeled on Jesus and the twelve male apostles. Apparently, women were highly respected teachers and ministers in their own right and they played an important role in the liturgical life of Christian communities from their inception. Only in later generations were they systematically eclipsed.
The egalitarian nature of the early assemblies of believers that sprang up around the example of Jesus were nothing less than revolutionary. Women followers of Jesus did more than serve the men by cooking meals and drawing water from the village well. They apparently taught, preached, and prophesied in those early decades of the Christian experience, presumably exercising these roles on the authority of Jesus, who called them friends and welcomed their contributions. One can almost see him encouraging women to express their ideas and feelings, quietly listening to their concerns, their hopes, their dreams, and their insights. And most favored of them all was the one called the Magdalene.
Mary Magdalene: Woman or Archetype?
1 Mary, Mary
2 Apostle to the Apostles
3 Bride and Beloved
4 Sophia, Spouse of the Lord
5 The Fragile Boat
6 Desert Exile
7 The Beloved Espoused
Posted September 5, 2005
Margaret Starbird is probably the foremost scholar dealing with the sacred feminine. Her grasp of history, theology, and gematria is nothing short of phenomenal. Her first book, Woman with the Alabaster Jar, was a ground breaking work that dealt with Mary Magdalene and her place in Christianity. Ms. Starbird's new book, Mary Magdalene: Bride in Exile, takes the theme to a new level as she explores not only Mary's place within Christianity, but also the sacred feminine within human spirituality. Bride in Exile is full of fascinating new information and speculation on the life and spiritual meaning of 'Mary called Magdalene'. The book also includes an audio CD with a lecture by Ms. Starbird called Mary Magdalene, Bride and Beloved. This book is a must have for gnostics, theologians, and anyone who has a love for Mary, The Apostle to the Apostles.
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Posted February 16, 2009
I found the book to be thought provoking.<BR/><BR/>After reading it i have done more research on this subject.<BR/><BR/>A great book for anyone searching for answers to questions on <BR/>the human aspect of Mary and Jesus and their relationship.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 23, 2006
Brilliant. Yet again, we see someone drawing on speculation and defining it as evidence. The argument hinges on such brilliant insight as the fact that Jesus not marrying constituted abnormality in Jewish society at the time. Oddly enough, most of his behavior would have been considered abnormal, but no attention is given to that. Ultimately, the only record we have available to us about the life of Jesus are the Gospels. Anything else is speculation. While I do not take issue with that, I DO take issue with the idea of calling that speculation 'Evidence'. Additionally, the underlying message is that the Church is a pack of uneducated liars on the grounds that it did not incorporate Gnostic texts and information that would be regarded by the peddlers of PC rubbish as 'truth'. No mention is given to the 250 years of debate, paperology, ontological examination, etc. that culminated in the Bible as we know it today. In other words, the scholarly quality of the book would not pass muster in ANY religious studies department at any university. But then, this book is not about scholarly investigation, but about promoting an agenda and discrediting Christians. The author is simply cashing in. Or she has a personal gripe with Christians. Or pehaps both.
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Posted February 25, 2006
Margaret Starbird¿s newest book ¿Mary Magdalene, Bride in Exile¿ which includes a CD and her insightful lecture ¿Mary Magdalene, Bride and Beloved¿ is as well written and as thoroughly researched as her previous works. Much of the information has been covered before, but this newest addition to her body of work includes wonderful color plates as well as expanded information in her ceaseless quest to honor ¿The Magdalene.¿ There are those who would prefer this subject remain unexplored, unread and they throw out the word ¿heretical.¿ This book is not for the closed-minded person¿but it you would like to explore a fascinating and sometimes disquieting subject this book is for you¿take the time to actually read it and read some of the other books listed in her bibliography. This is a well researched, if controversial precept, and Starbird¿s easy almost conversational writing style belays the tremendous amount of study and research that has gone into this and all her books. Was there a more human side to the Rabbi Yeshua? Had he a favorite? Was he, like nearly all Jewish males of his time, married? These are not questions that disavow or undermine his divinity, they are concepts that bind that divinity more tightly to ourselves¿these are the questions that Margaret Starbird explores in this well written, well researched, insightfully presented book. You can believe what you think you know about this book, you can listen to others: many of whom have not read it and are just repeating hearsay, or you can delve into a fascinating world where, literature, art, music, papermaking guilds, folk lore, political and religious intrigue tangle together and are brought to life by a devote and dedicated author in search of truth. Her other books are wonderful as well:'The Goddess in the Gospels,' 'Magdalene's Lost Legacy,' and 'The Woman with the Alabaster Jar.'Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 3, 2005
Margaret has continued to do her homework. Since writing The Woman with the Alabaster Jar, she has deepened her experience and expanded her research into the sacred union of Jesus and his beloved, Mary Magdalene. It is clearer than ever now, thanks to her persistent quest, that this union was meant to be at the heart of the Christian message. She goes far beyond a simply feminist approach to expose the damage done to our psyches and spirits because of the loss of the feminine figure that could have given us a balanced spirituality based on this union. I especially appreciated her easy to understand explanation of gematria as an established practice in the highest standing among our Jewish and Christian ancestors, not a cheap 'parlor game' that could be repudiated. In her book, the sacred numbers speak, clearly and elegantly, to reinforce her premise. This is important work for anyone who wishes to see history and theology begin to heal and bless the future.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.