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The Mary Magdalene Tradition: Witness and Counter-Witness in Early Christian Communities (Michael Glazier Books) [Paperback]

By Holly E. Hearon (Author)
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Item description for The Mary Magdalene Tradition: Witness and Counter-Witness in Early Christian Communities (Michael Glazier Books) by Holly E. Hearon...

Overview
In The Mary Magdalene Tradition, Holly E. Hearon offers an understanding of the early Church, the role of women in the Church, and the power of narrative to shape community understanding and practice. By examining the rhetorical function of the post-resurrection appearance to Mary Magdalene traditions in early Christian communities, Hearon draws connections between these ancient communities and the life of the Church today. Beginning with a reconstruction of the practice of storytelling in the world of antiquity, Hearon situates the Magdalene narratives in this oral, storytelling environment. Focusing on the fluid nature of storytelling, Hearon explores how the traditions were used to further arguments by storytellers with respect to women's leadership in Christian communities. Particular attention is given to the Gospels of Matthew and John, highlighting the relationship of the Gospel narratives to specific historical circumstances facing the early Church.

Publishers Description
In The Mary Magdalene Tradition, Holly Hearon offers an understanding of the early Church, the role of women in the Church, and the power of narrative to shape community understanding and practice. By examining the rhetorical function of the post-resurrection appearance to Mary Magdalene traditions in early Christian communities, Hearon draws connections between these ancient communities and the life of the Church today. Beginning with a reconstruction of the practice of storytelling in the world of antiquity, Hearon situates the Magdalene narratives in this oral, storytelling environment. Focusing on the fluid nature of storytelling, Hearon explores how the traditions were used to further arguments by storytellers with respect to women's leadership in Christian communities. Particular attention is given to the Gospels of Matthew and John, highlighting the relationship of the Gospel narratives to specific historical circumstances facing the early Church. Chapters are "Storytelling in the World of Antiquity," "Origins of the Post-Resurrection Appearance to Mary Magdalene Tradition," "The Function of the Mary Magdalene Tradition in Oral Storytelling Circles," "Storytelling Strategies in Matthew: The Function of the Mary Magdalene Tradition In Its Literary Context," "The Mary Magdalene Tradition and Matthean Communities: The Function of the Tradition in Response to Historical Circumstances," "Storytelling Strategies in John: The Function of the Mary Magdalene Tradition In Its Literary Context," "The Mary Magdalene Tradition and Johannine Communities: The Function of the Tradition in Response to Historical Circumstances," "Epilogue: A Consideration of Storytelling in Relation To OurUnderstanding of Communities in the Past and the Shaping of Communities for the Future."

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Item Specifications...


Studio: Michael Glazier Books
Pages   208
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.06" Width: 6.12" Height: 0.61"
Weight:   0.88 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 1, 2004
Publisher   Liturgical Press
ISBN  0814651208  
ISBN13  9780814651209  


Availability  0 units.


More About Holly E. Hearon


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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > Saints
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > Church History


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Books > Church & Ministry > Church Life > Roman Catholic



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Reviews - What do customers think about The Mary Magdalene Tradition: Witness and Counter-Witness in Early Christian Communities (Michael Glazier Books)?

The Mary Magdalene Tradition  Mar 31, 2008
This book opens up reflection about how women may have shared the gospel story within the realms that were available to them in a patriachal society. Hearon works carefully with various texts of the bible to show the flexibility of the story within established broad frames. A delightful book for any interested in the fundamental role of women in primitive Christianity.
 
I love to tell the story...  May 22, 2004
The primary surprise awaiting the reader of 'The Mary Magdalene Tradition: Witnesss and Counter-Witness in Early Christian Communities' is that it is not a book about Mary Magdalene. While Mary Magdalene features as a character of importance in the text of Holly Hearon, professor of New Testament studies at my seminary, this is not a biography or history book on Magdalene, but rather on the impact that the primary stories of Mary Magdalene - the post-resurrection stories (and peripherally related, other stories of Magdalene showing her prominence among the followers of Jesus) - have on the early Christian community and Christian development. Hearon's primary questions are the rhetorical functions - 'who told these stories of the appearances to the women, and why did they tell them?' Stories are told for a reason, one assumes - they continue to be told because they continue to have meaning. Can we discover this meaning?

Hearon begins with a brief survey of past scholarship in the Magdalene tradition in the later half of the twentieth century. These studies concentrated on placing the Magdalene tradition in relation to the 'normative' Petrine tradition and other focuses - Hearon's discussion centres on three specific contexts - Matthew, John and the oral tradition of the early Christians during the time the gospels were being written. Hearon does not cover in this text Gnostic traditions (in which Magdalene stories have prominence) or other extra-canonical texts. While she references the longer ending of Mark in various parts of the text, this is not a major focus at any point.

This oral tradition is addressed in terms of the broader storytelling environment in the ancient Eastern Roman Empire - many scholars assume that the majority of the world was illiterate by a significant margin, making oral traditions the primary means of handing down knowledge. Hearon points out the irony of our knowledge of oral traditions of storytelling coming primarily from written texts. Greco-Roman, Jewish and Christian texts each bear different hallmarks, and Hearon discusses each in turn, focusing primarily upon the period between 100 BCE and 200 CE. The Greco-Romans had professional and informal storytellers, and contexts were often fairly clear. The Jewish tradition has more examples, but less contextual clues. Drawing in the Christian tradition, Hearon sets a stage for the examination of the Magdalene stories.

Dealing directly with the post-resurrection stories, Hearon looks first at the origins of stories, preferring the option that the gospel retellings derive from earlier, common oral traditions, rather than a direct borrowing of texts. In the next chapter, Hearon develops a 're-oralised' version of the Magdalene story, an uncommon task that involves identification and understanding of storyteller, story, audience and context in ever-changing combinations. One might wonder again at the task of re-oralising an oral text that has been transmitted via texts, then again commiting the finished re-oralisation to yet another text. Hearon admits the lack of ability of texts to carry the weight of performance here, but it does make for some fascinating imaginings.

Hearon examines in detail the stories in Matthew and John, looking also at the communities of both Matthew and John, with a special look at women in each of the gospels. There are conclusions drawn at each chapter, which feed into Hearon's final conclusions (contained in a remarkably short chapter at the end). The evidence points to a central role of women in early Christianity, and the Magdalene tradition underscores this importance. Mary Magdalene is seen as having the key qualities of discipleship, but the texts show competition and some lack of uniformity among the early framers of the gospels as to leadership and church function roles (who teaches, who is a disciple, etc.). Hearon argues for a persuasive power of storytelling rather than a dogmatic imposition of standards at this early time in Christian development.

There are certain assumptions underlying the whole study. Among these are the lack of uniformity of witness in the early church, the idea that the gospels were composed for particular communities (that were nonetheless not defined by geography or self-identification), and that the world of the writers is reflected in the writing itself, that there is a contextual relationships between the ancient world and the gospel.

This text grew out of Hearon's doctoral dissertation at GTU, under the direction of Ann Wire. Thus, this is a scholarly work as opposed to a 'popular' one - the reader should be prepared for footnote that take up the entire space on the page; on the other hand, such documentation and elaboration is very useful to the scholar, professional and amateur, for doing further investigation on one's own. While there is no subject/topic/modern author index, there is an index of biblical and ancient sources, in addition to several interesting appendices, putting in chart form examples of storytelling, by women and by men, in the different contexts, as well as examples of appearance stories in the different literatures.

Hearon concludes by saying that we are all storytellers of a sort, no matter what kind of story we are telling. But our stories are not static, nor are the interpretations of these stories, and this is at the heart of the gospel process - by hearing the differing voices and interpretations, we are able to hear the voice of the gospel in greater clarity. As one who is quite taken by narrative theology, I found the ideas and examples included in Hearon's text quite intriguing, and information that will be of use in the future.

 

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