A Virgin Conceived: Mary and Classical Representations of by Mary F. Foskett PDF

By Mary F. Foskett

The virginity of Mary has been an influential guideline of Christian trust, a catalyst for Marian devotion, and a starting place for the development of woman Christian piety and perform. unlike earlier biblical interpreters who've drawn on both linguistic or ancient facts to wonder whether Mary the parthenos is certainly a "virgin," during this examine Mary F. Foskett takes a various path. instead of investigating the which means and implications of the Virgin as a reified image, A Virgin Conceived examines the portrayal of Mary as a virgin in vital early Christian narratives: the canonical Luke-Acts and the second-century Protevangelium of James. Foskett explores the a number of meanings and photos that parthenos and virginity exhibit in assets and describes how they make the most this variety of attainable meanings of their representations of Mary. Her research departs from prior biblical interpretation via emphasizing neither the paradox of the time period parthenos nor the historical past of culture referring to Mary. as a substitute, it screens the a number of meanings of "virginity" and their implications for realizing representations of the Virgin Mary.

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As a female body, the virgin also signi¤es a condition of physical liminality. ”17 Viewed in this light, the female body appears perpetually and futilely poised at the threshold of completeness, of idealized maleness. 18 Moreover, within the schema of chronic de¤ciency, the body of the parthenos negotiates the transition from ripeness to fertility. She is moving toward becoming a gyne, when she will be expected to produce a child. Given her social, moral, and physical liminality, it is no wonder that the parthenos serves as the subject of multiple modes of ancient discourse.

In this case, unchastity is presumed, despite the woman’s sexual status. Furthermore, it is rooted not in the woman’s body, but in her reputation, her public standing. The semantic blurring of chastity, virginity, and purity, as they relate to the priesthood, lies at the foundation of the law concerning admission into the priesthood. Seneca records how the law “enquires into a woman’s ancestors, her body, her life” (Controv. 11). 94 Such inquiry, as well as the arguments adduced in Seneca’s account, demonstrate A Virgin Conceived 44 that a priestess must not only evidence but embody virginity, chastity, and purity.

She is moving toward becoming a gyne, when she will be expected to produce a child. Given her social, moral, and physical liminality, it is no wonder that the parthenos serves as the subject of multiple modes of ancient discourse. She is a topic of medical, moral, religious, legal, and historical discussions, as well as the focus of several an- Bodies and Selves 29 cient narratives. The parthenos is cause for both celebration and concern, signaling ripeness on the one hand and incompleteness on the other.

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