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In search of Mary : the woman and the symbol

Author: Sally Cunneen
Publisher: New York : Ballantine Books, 1996.
Edition/Format:   Print book : English : First editionView all editions and formats
Summary:
Cunneen's search for Mary is in the spirit of the best of the various historical Jesus quests. She is concerned with a contemporary, living symbol; a history of interpretation that reaches beyond the boundaries of Christianity; and a particular woman whose particular life in Roman-occupied Palestine is poorly documented. The paradox of intense memory and meager documentation fuels Cunneen's careful sifting of
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Genre/Form: History
Additional Physical Format: Online version:
Cunneen, Sally.
In search of Mary.
New York : Ballantine Books, 1996
(OCoLC)633035381
Named Person: Mary, Blessed Virgin Saint; Mary, Blessed Virgin Saint; Mary, Blessed Virgin Saint; Mary, Blessed Virgin Saint.
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Sally Cunneen
ISBN: 0345382463 9780345382467
OCLC Number: 35314333
Description: xxi, 403 pages, 24 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 21 cm
Contents: Introduction: Rediscovering Mary --
Why search for Mary? --
Miriam of Nazarath, Mary of the New Testament --
Stories and struggles: Mary's transformation in the Greco-Roman church --
Triumph of the Church, emergence of the God-bearer (313-431 C.E.) --
Mary, her son, and their extended family: twelfth-century Europe --
Reform, Counter-Reform, and conquest: the Virgin divided --
The contrasting Marys of the nineteenth century --
The liberation of Mary --
Icon of human possibility --
Epilogue: The end of our journey.
Responsibility: Sally Cunneen.
More information:

Abstract:

Cunneen's search for Mary is in the spirit of the best of the various historical Jesus quests. She is concerned with a contemporary, living symbol; a history of interpretation that reaches beyond the boundaries of Christianity; and a particular woman whose particular life in Roman-occupied Palestine is poorly documented. The paradox of intense memory and meager documentation fuels Cunneen's careful sifting of historical evidence. Maintaining a lively, conversational tone, the narrative is chronological, moving from Miriam of Nazareth--the Mary of the New Testament--through her transformation in the Greco-Roman church; her emergence as theotokos ('god bearer' ); her enshrinement in an extended, then broken, family; and finally to 'icon of human possibility.' This engaging study, accessible to general as well as scholarly audiences, provides a much-needed context for the growing body of material on Mary. - Steve Schroeder-

A Catholic feminist reviews how the Virgin Mary has been understood down through the centuries, and argues that Mary retains a powerful symbolic meaning for today. For Cunneen (Sex: Female; Religion: Catholic, 1968) Mary has to be rediscovered because she has been obscured by ideas and images that no longer speak to us and that reflect problematic views of women. Beginning with a discussion of the laconic New Testament material, Cunneen takes us through the early centuries, when Mary was viewed as the New Eve, and later as 'God-Bearer.' Cunneen notes the emergence of the cult of Mary in 12th-century western Europe, exemplified in extraordinary cathedral art and in the writings of St. Bernard of Clairvaux. She devotes a chapter to Reformation controversies, with a discussion of how Luther's and Calvin's pessimistic views of humanity dominated their basic views of Mary. Cunneen is at her best in her treatment of versions of Mary common in the 19th century, describing the discovery of Mary as a liberating figure by Protestant women writers such as Christina Rossetti and Margaret Fuller, and in her descriptions of the work of some modern artists fascinated by the figure of Mary. Their work, she argues, allows us to look at Mary in fresh and nurturing ways. But in covering so much ground, the author frequently ends up saying too little, as in her scanty treatment of the figure of Mary in Byzantine Christianity. Cunneen makes highly contentious use of Cardinal Newman's theory of doctrinal development, and she avoids the crucial issue for feminists: In orthodox Christianity the cult of Mary ultimately derives from a belief in Jesus as God. While providing a wealth of information, Cunneen's search is more a reflection of her own ongoing personal journey than a definitive statement. (Author tour)-

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