Mary, Founder of Christianity
A radical reassessment of the role of Mary the mother of Jesus and other women in the early Church
Despite the commonly held assumption that the Bible says little about the mother of Jesus, there are many indications that Mary preceded and inspired her son in fostering the emergence of a new faith community. In the Gospel of John, Mary instigates Jesus’ first miracle, and in all four gospels she is present at the crucifixion, suggesting hers was a place of unparalleled importance in the Christian story.
Setting aside presuppositions based on doctrine, Chris Maunder returns to the New Testament to answer the question ‘Who was Mary?’ He re-examines the virgin conception of Jesus, Mary’s contribution to Jesus’ ministry, and her central role in the events of the crucifixion and the resurrection. In so doing, Maunder casts a thought-provoking new light on Mary and the women, including Mary Magdalene, who stood alongside her.
'A welcome addition to the recent resurgence of research on the Marys, and on the leadership of women in early Christianity. In particular, Maunder's focus on Mary of Nazareth's status within the family of Jesus is a plausible and culturally relevant approach to an important issue, presented in an accessible and intriguing way.' -- Mary Ann Beavis, Professor Emerita, St Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan 'Mother Mary's contributions to the establishment of Christianity are brought to the fore in this provocative treatise by Maunder... Even those who disagree with Maunder's unorthodox biblical readings will acknowledge the boldness and originality of what's on offer.' * Publishers Weekly * 'Maunder answers the burning questions around Mary's role in the Christian faith, using a scholar's approach that gives the nonacademic reader an understanding of why the historical mother of Jesus is so important to the foundation of Christianity... Maunder offers plenty of resources in his footnotes, adding further interest for readers interested in studying Christian history.' * Booklist * 'An excellent examination of the portrait of Mary, Jesus' mother, according to the canonical gospel accounts.' * Ally Kateusz, Wijngaards Institute of Catholic Research * 'Chris Maunder undertakes an important but complicated task in this book. He wants to recover Mary for a world in which women have equal voice and in which a virgin bearing a child seems unbelievable. Like the search for the historical Jesus, Maunder's search for the historical Mary begins with a framework for interpretation that distinguishes between an historical event and its metaphoric presentation in the gospels. In this reading framework, he finds Mary present before, throughout, and at the end of Jesus' ministry. He argues for her significant presence in the early church in Jerusalem. In this way, Mary is imagined as a co-founder of Christianity. This is indeed a book for "free thinkers in the Christian tradition" who might find in a reconsideration of Mary an escape from the "delusion of male and hierarchical supremacy".' * Jo-Ann Badley, Dean of Theology and Associate Professor of New Testament, Ambrose University *
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