Truly Our Sister: A Theology of Mary in the Communion of Saints

Overview

The first-century Jewish woman Miriam of Nazareth, mother of Jesus, is the most celebrated female religious figure in the Christian tradition. Elizabeth Johnson offers an interpretation of Mary that is theologically sound, spiritually empowering, ethically challenging, socially liberating, and ecumenically fruitful. In particular, she sees the image of Mary as a blessing rather than a blight for women's lives in both religious and political terms.

"If you read only one book on Mary in your lifetime, let...

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Overview

The first-century Jewish woman Miriam of Nazareth, mother of Jesus, is the most celebrated female religious figure in the Christian tradition. Elizabeth Johnson offers an interpretation of Mary that is theologically sound, spiritually empowering, ethically challenging, socially liberating, and ecumenically fruitful. In particular, she sees the image of Mary as a blessing rather than a blight for women's lives in both religious and political terms.

"If you read only one book on Mary in your lifetime, let this be the one." American Catholic Booksellers'

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"When it comes to the subject of Mary," writes Johnson, "women's judgment is decidedly ambiguous." On the one hand, Mary has been an icon of obedience-thus perpetuating women's subordinate place in the church. On the other hand, she is an inspirational sister for the common woman. After all, Miriam of Nazareth was a lower-class Jewish woman living in a poor and politically oppressed region of the world. In the face of tyranny, poverty, and prejudice, Mary represents the ongoing feminine quest for "God's compassionate and liberating justice." Written like a doctoral thesis, Johnson's book argues for a feminist and empowering vision of Mary. She is overt in her criticism of "patriarchal mariologies that function to subordinate women." Many traditional assumptions are challenged, from the belief that Mary was reading a book when the Angel Gabriel came to her, thus symbolizing the rewriting of her life story (doubtful, given the low literacy rate of peasant girls), to Mary's appearance: Europeans often depict her as a delicate, blonde-haired beauty. As a Jewish peasant girl, she was probably a dark, muscular teenager. Johnson is at her finest when she offers her feminist interpretations of Mary's central moments in the Bible. For instance, Mary's brave witnessing of the crucifixion represents the fact that "life given by women's bodies keeps on being taken away by brutality, war and terrorism," and her memory comforts all the grieving mothers who lose their sons to political acts of violence. While this offers a fascinating revamping of Mary's story, readers who are looking for a new spin along the lines of The Red Tent will not find it here. Unfortunately, the scholarly tone of Johnson's writing will limit this book's appeal. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
An American Catholic whose subspecialty is feminist theology, Johnson (Distinguished Professor of Theology, Fordham Univ.) here presents a companion book to her Friends of God and Prophets, combining her research on the communion of saints with her feminist theological interests. Johnson does not portray the heavenly Mary in her role as patroness, queen, or intercessor. Instead, she places Mary in human time, portraying her in the midst of her hardscrabble history as an actual woman humanized and made holy by God. Johnson claims that Mary's human, historic response to divine love discloses that God " is no longer to be sought in the clouds but here on earth, in the flesh, in birth, and in a grave, however surprisingly empty." Finally, Johnson enfolds Mary into the remembering, loving, expectant community of disciples of the Lord Jesus. Johnson's fresh insights into St. Mary and the communion of saints are significant for Catholic theological conversation. This important book is recommended for seminary and academic libraries and for public libraries with a good circulation of religion titles.-David I. Fulton, Coll. of St. Elizabeth, Morristown, NJ Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826418272
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 2/28/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth A. Johnson, C.S.J., is distinguished Professor of Theology at Fordham University. She has received numerous awards, including the Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion for She Who Is (1993), the American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion for Friends of God and Prophets (1999), and the Book Award of the College Theology Society for Truly Our Sister (2004). She was also the recipient of the John Courtney Murray Award of the Catholic Theological Society of America, the Jerome Award of the Catholic Library Association, and the Monika K. Hellwig Award of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Pt. 1 Women's Voices in a New Key
Ch. 1 Fragments in the Rubble 3
Ch. 2 Women's Theological Work 18
Pt. 2 Roads Not Taken
Ch. 3 Cul-de-Sac: The Ideal Face of Woman 47
Ch. 4 Cul-de-Sac: The Maternal Face of God 71
Pt. 3 A Way Forward
Ch. 5 A Modest Proposal 95
Ch. 6 Precedents 114
Pt. 4 Picturing a World
Ch. 7 Galilee: The Political-Economic World 137
Ch. 8 Second Temple Judaism: The Religious World 162
Ch. 9 Women: The Social-Cultural World 185
Pt. 5 Mary in the Communion of Saints
Ch. 10 The Dangerous Memory of Mary: A Mosaic 209
Ch. 11 Mary, Friend of God and Prophet 305
Notes 326
Index of Subjects and Names 371
Index of Ancient Sources 377
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