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Mary Magdalene: Beyond the Myth [Paperback]

By Esther A. de Boer (Author), Esther De Boer (Author) & De Esther Boer (Author)
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Item description for Mary Magdalene: Beyond the Myth by Esther A. de Boer, Esther De Boer & De Esther Boer...

Who really was Mary Magdalene? The living woman behind the image is still little known, and Esther de Boer attempts to fill this gap. The author examines not only Gospel texts, but also writings discovered in the Egyptian desert during the last century, to present a vivid, fascinating, and attractive picture of Mary of Magdala--disciple, apostle, and human being.

Publishers Description
Much has been written recently about Mary Magdalene, mostly about who she was not. She was not the sister of Martha. She was not the fallen woman who was raised up again by Jesus. She was not the prostitute who repented and did penance for the rest of her life. The picture of Mary Magdalene cherished by the ages, which emphasized her sexuality and suppressed her weakness, lies in shreds. Who really was Mary Magadalene? The living woman behind the image is still too little known and Esther de Boer here attempts to fill this gap. Examining not only the Gospel texts and texts from the church fathers, but also examining texts discovered in the Egyptian desert during the last century that were not contained in the church's tradition (not least of which is the Gospel of Mary), de Boer presents a vivid, fascinating and attractive picture of Mary of Magdala disciple, apostle, and human being. Esther de Boer studied theology at the Free University of Amsterdam and is now a minister of the Dutch Reformed Churches in Ouderkerk aan de Amstel.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Continuum
Pages   143
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.51" Width: 5.53" Height: 0.47"
Weight:   0.5 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 1997
Publisher   Trinity Press International
Edition  US  
ISBN  1563382121  
ISBN13  9781563382123  

Availability  0 units.

More About Esther A. de Boer, Esther De Boer & De Esther Boer

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Esther A. de Boer completed her Ph.D. at the Theological University of Kampen, Holland. She is the author of Mary Magdalene: beyond the Myth (Trinity Press International, 1997)

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Bible & Other Sacred Texts > Bible > New Testament
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > Mariology
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > Roman Catholicism
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > Saints
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > General
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General

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Books > Bible Study > General Studies > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Mary Magdalene: Beyond the Myth?

Interesting, but dated and too short  Apr 9, 2007
Esther De Boer's book was written in 1996, and the pace of research and thinking about Mary Magdalene is such that ten years later it seems dated. Nonetheless, DeBoer makes some good points. For example, she notes that our information about Mary Magdalene come from texts that were written about Jesus, and therefore we can't expect a great deal of information. Moreover, even the Gospel of Mary is not about Mary per se, but rather an opportunity to present her teachings.

She offers a unique perspective on the meaning of the "seven demons" using Luke's (11:21-26) discussion of the strong man protecting his house as a model for interpreting the symptoms, and she also draws on Hellenistic concepts of the soul. Her argument isn't entirely convincing, but it is unique, and certainly deserves consideration.

De Boer also offers her own interpretation of the "beloved disciple" controversy and identifies Mary Magdalene as a possible candidate. Unfortunately this section is far too short and bereft of consideration of the other candidates, yet it is interesting.

De Boer is one of the few authors who correctly refers to Mary as "Mary the Magdalene." Unfortunately she mistake this epithet as referring to the city of Magdala, claims that her name is "Mary of Magdala" (p. 11) and goes on to develop an entire theory based on this idea. Yet almost every scholar knows that there was no town named Magdala in the First century. In addition, none of Jesus' disciples (and De Boer agrees that Mary was a disciple) had place names (e.g., Simon of Cyrene, Joseph of Arimathea), but instead they had nicknames (e.g., Simon the Zealot, Simon the Rock, The Sons of Thunder, etc). Why would Mary be an exception, and why would she be named after a city that didn't exist?

Other notable errors include:

- She claims that "Mary of Clopas" is the sister of Jesus' mother Mary (p. 10). That would give us two sisters named Mary, an unlikely event. Mary of Clopas is probably Mary's sister-in-law, since Clopas is Joseph's brother (Ecclesiastical History 3, 11).

- She claims that the Gospel writers "always mention Mary Magdalene by name first (p. 31)" but that's not true. She is mentioned first in 13 of 14 lists, not always, and the one time she isn't first, she is last (John 19:25)

- She claims that being a disciple of Jesus "meant abstaining from sex (p. 39)" but that is never a requirement in the Gospels, and indeed, the married disciples who followed Jesus suggests that sex wasn't a no no.

- She claims that Jewish and Roman traditions "propagated marriage and motherhood as the only proper way in which a woman should spend her life (p. 44)", yet there are archeological finds that show both Jewish and Roman woman playing significant roles in the early church.

Despite the relatively shortness of the book (147 pages), it has a long list of helpful footnotes, and an adequate bibliography, although many of the references are foreign language (the original book was written in Dutch in `96 and translated into English in `97). It's easy to read, although not particularly well organized given the breadth of the material De Boer attempts to cover.

There are certainly better (and bigger) books about Mary Magdalene. Beginning students should start elsewhere (e.g., with Margaret Starbird or Jane Schaberg). Advanced students will find some of De Boer's discussions interesting and informative.
Jesus' Constant Companion  Jun 13, 2006
Originally penned in Dutch, Esther de Boer's "Mary Magdalene" (1996) arrives in the English translation (Bowden's 1997) as a fresh new look at Jesus' closest female disciple (p. 65-67). Although Mary is historically elusive de Boer proffers considerable well-reasoned insight and scholarly reflection about this great lady saint. This 143-page paperback is well resourced with a five page select bibliography and 14 pages of endnotes. De Boer concludes the book with a helpful 3-page index of ancient texts.

Incorporating each of the earliest references about Mary of Magdala (from the New Testament Gospels, to the Gospel of Mary, to the Gospel of Philip, to various patristic writings) the author understands that "the earliest sources that mention [Mary] are not about her" (p. 19). De Boer believes the early silence about Mary is deliberate. She works diligently to fill in many of the Magdalene story spaces.

Avoiding the controversial arguments about Magdalene's personal (and perhaps married) life with Jesus of Nazareth, De Boer speaks only from documented Marian traditions. Mary Magdalene comes from the area of Tiberias, in Galilee. She follows Jesus through his ministry providing for him out of her own means. She is present for his crucifixion and resurrection. Then, she disappears from the official pages of history.

De Boer shows that Mary Magdalene does not receive much press in the synoptic gospels but that the Gospel of John gives her a real presence allowing Magdalene to speak (p. 56). From this book one learns early church leaders knew Mary as an "apostle" (p. 60), that Peter appears hostile to Magdalene in the Gospel of Mary (p.69), and that the Gospel of Philip calls Mary Jesus' constant "companion" (p. 71). She is quick to point out that such companionship does not necessarily connote sexuality. De Boar then provides a helpful six page insertion from the Gospel of Mary (her own translation from the original Greek) to enhance her interpretation (chapter 4).

De Boer's writing style is more devotional than academic giving this book an approachable feeling that convinces. Although she occassionally gets side-tracked by her feminist background, De Boer's opinions do not distract from her subject.

If you are unfamiliar with Mary of Magdala this book will quickly inform you. I read it in a very short time (making notes on almost every page). Much of its information has been transcribed into my Revised English Bible.

This book is recommended to all who are curious about Mary Magdalene, New Testament students, and Bible studiers.
Meditations on the record  Sep 29, 2004
I enjoyed this book a great deal. I failed to agree with the author's conclusions, but doubt the intent was to convince. She shares her own meditations, but they are inspirational comments rather than legal epitaphs.

The book starts with a review of contemporary treatment of the icon 'Mary Magdalene'. We make a pilgrimage to a church dedicated to her and experience the emotions her passion play evokes. This image is then undermined by reviewing the history of Mary Magdalene's persona as described by church fathers over the last 1800 years.

De Boer then goes beyond the church fathers to the earliest evangelical quotes attributed to Mary herself: The Gospel of Mary Magdalene. While the document is at least 1500 years old, it isn't clear what it represents: does it quote the words Mary spoke or is it simply another 'myth' about Mary.

De Boer spends a good deal of time addressing the problem of differentiating the three personas attributed to Mary:
1. Mary, the follower of Jesus presented in the canonic gospels,
2. Mary, the priestess of Christ as presented in the Gospel of Mary Magdalene,
3. Mary, the 'reformed prostitute' as presented by medieval European church fathers.

In the end, De Boer concludes the 'real' Mary was accurately quoted in the Gospel of Mary Magdalene.
If rumor were fact....  Jan 20, 2002
If you want to read a book that deals with the facts of Mary of Magdalene's life and skip all the rumor and speculation presented as fact try "Mad Mary" by Liz Curtis Higgs.
Who was Mary?  Nov 21, 2000
I read all I can about Mary. This is a nice addition along with Starbird, and of course, Defenders of the Holy Grail. We have been the victims of a patriarchal plot to remove Mary's role. This book helps restore balance

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