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Mary Magdalene, The First Apostle - The Struggle for Authority (Anglais) Broché – 4 avril 2003

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The Struggle for Authority

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112 internautes sur 114 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A thoughtful treatment of a complicated subject 12 février 2004
Par Lesa Bellevie - Publié sur
Format: Broché review: Ann Graham Brock has masterfully and succinctly stated a problem that has been bothering me for a very long time. In several early Christian texts that feature Mary Magdalene, she faces opposition by Peter, leaving the reader with the impression that there was some rivalry between the two. The apparent conflict was vague and unsettling, and not being a Biblical scholar, I didn't know what to do with it.
In "Mary Magdalene, The First Apostle," Brock cleanly lays out an explanation for not only how and why Mary Magdalene and Peter are treated differently in rival texts, but also an argument for why, although Magdalene meets every requirement
for apostleship, she has been denied her rightful title.
Early Christianity was a hotbed of competing ideas from which different schools of thought emerged. Inevitably, these groups were drawn to the apostle, both as they were written about in the Gospels and how they were perceived in popular tradition, who best represented their beliefs. As these groups produced texts, and in very early cases, edited the canonical Gospels, they tended to slant their writings toward one of two polar extremes: Peter as the foundation for an androcentric authority structure, or Mary Magdalene as an example of a more egalitarian religion in which both women and men were capable of leadership. As a result, in texts that feature both Mary Magdalene and Peter, the role of one or the other is diminished, either subtly or directly. In some cases, texts featuring a strong Mary Magdalene were changed so she was completely replaced by Peter or Mary, Jesus' mother. Where Magdalene is replaced by Jesus' mother, Mary of Nazareth often plays the foil to Magdalene, deferring to Peter in all matters
because he is male.
In addition to analyzing several texts for their position on Peter and Magdalene, Brock spends a great deal of time on the subject of apostleship, how the term and the concept evolved, and what the requirements were to be considered an apostle.
She points out that although Paul is considered an apostle, by some definitions he doesn't even meet the criteria while Magdalene, by every definition, always meets the criteria. She discusses how Magdalene's identity as an apostle was threatening to the emerging Petrine orthodoxy, and why it was beneficial to knock her down to nothing more than a penitent sinner.
This book is geared toward an academic audience and is heavily footnoted; as a Magdalene researcher, I found her footnotes and references to be just as vaulable as the text. Although this book will be challenging for some readers, it is definitely worth the purchase if you are interested in Mary Magdalene or the politics of early Christianity. Highly recommended.
74 internautes sur 75 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Mary Magdalene Revisited...this time seriously 31 décembre 2003
Par Gary C. Marfin - Publié sur
Format: Broché
This book, originally a doctoral dissertation, provides readers with what appears to be a very careful comparative analysis of the gospels and early Christian texts on the pivotal question of the apostolic status of Mary Magdalene. I hedge with the phrase "what appears to be" simply because my ability to judge a book with references to scholarship that includes Harnack, countless foreign languages, Greek and Egyptian sources is limited. But don't let the scholarship deter you; this is a very readable book.
Dr. Graham Brock documents how Mary Magdalene's presence as a resurrection witness, her position as a role model and her status as apostle have been diminished, depreciated, marginalized or otherwise ignored in early Christian texts, and especially the Gospel of Luke. A central assumption, and one that to me seems reasonable, is that the differing portrayals of Mary Magdalene are not unintentional, but in "all probability intentional and deliberate." What emerges in these pages is a picture that reinforces the work of Elaine Pagels and others; it is a picture of an early church, much more divided than ordinary believers have been taught to expect. A more complicated picture, but one that is, for that very reason, far more believable.
The significance of the debate about Mary Magdalene stems from the vast importance attached to apostolic succession in the church, both historically and in our own time. This careful and readable analysis of the apostolic status of Mary Magdalene -- to some early Christians, "the apostle to the apostles" -- is a welcome addition to the growing volumes on her importance. It is a serious work. Dr. Ann Graham Brock merits a wide and serious readership.
103 internautes sur 125 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Democratic Mary M. vs. Hierarchical Peter and Virgin Mary 2 avril 2003
Par Michael Hoffman - Publié sur
Format: Broché
Brock shows that any given early Christian writing portrays authority as being concentrated either in Mary Magdalene or Peter, but not both. Mary Magdalene is often replaced by Mary mother of Jesus, who then is passive and affirms Peter's authority. The Peter figure is consistently elevated in writings that promote hierarchical, male, formal authority such as Deacons, Bishops, and Archbishops.
The Mary Magdalene figure is consistently elevated is writings from which formal leadership roles are absent. The Paul figure is more involved in a tug-of-war between these two opposing systems of church government.
Brock tends to speak as though taking for granted the historical existence of the Bible figures -- that may or may not be excusable. Those who wanted to concentrate power exclusively in the hands of the leaders of a hierarchical church had good reason to literalize all the Bible figures, whereas I would expect the democratizers such as elevated Mary Magdalene as authoritative would be inclined to democratically put forth the whole scheme as mythic-mystic metaphor.
I would like to see this motive for literalization treated and possibly contrasted between those who elevated the figure of Mary Magdalene (women, mystics, and those not in power) and those who elevated the figure of Peter (male Roman rulers).
Brock demonstrates that among the gospels, Luke is the most pro-Peter and most pro-hierarchy, promoting the narrowest and most formal concept of "apostle". The whole idea of a firmly restricted number of "apostles" aligns with the motives of the Petrine camp and is against the spirit of the Mary Magdalene camp.
I am still trying to understand whether this book postulates that Christianity began as a women-driven religion that was later taken over by the men in power; whether Mary Magdalene is practically the same as the Beloved Disciple and the traditional figure of "John"; and whether Mary Magdalene should be thought of as the mythic consort of the godman figure in the Christian system of mythic-mystic religion.
This is a solidly scholarly work that greatly advances Mary Magdalene studies and shows the importance and full relevance of Mary Magdalene. Before reading Brock, I was inclined to think that because the Mary Magdalene early tradition has been largely suppressed in the canon, a theory of the core Christian mythic-mystic system need not cover her.
Brock clearly reveals the importance of tracing in the canon the boundaries of this battle for authority between the democratic and hierarchical camps. To a significant extent, the canon is intrinsically shaped in the form of a conflict and contention between the two camps; the canon reflects a great tug-of-war between two main scripture-shaping camps, and cannot be meaningfully understood when approached as a single, coherent, harmonious construction.
Brock opens up the canon by demonstrating that it reflects opposing efforts to define the structure of the church, the content of Christian doctrine, and the socio-political role of women. The scriptures can be rightly divided, putting aside the familiar Petrine authoritarian tradition which was convenient for the Roman rulers, and freshly opening up the democratic direct experience associated with the Mary Magdalene camp.
I would like to see more about the association of direct mystic experiencing with the Mary Magdalene advocates. This book is more concerned with establishing the evidence for its specific, delimited thesis that there was a struggle for authority, than with speculating about the motives and mode of operation of the Orthodox authoritarian Christians (bishops and other powerful, elite rulers) against the Gnostic Christians.
15 internautes sur 16 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Great book on the disagreements of the early church 31 août 2006
Par Arthur Digbee - Publié sur
Format: Broché
Brock argues that the Bible and other early Christian texts reveal an apparent struggle between two different communities in the early church, one centered around Peter and the other around Mary Magdalene. The Petrine group eventually won out, eventually becoming the male-dominated hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. This victory was strong enough so that Magdalene references were minimized in much of the Bible, though found among many non-canonical texts, including obviously the Gospel of Mary Magdalene.

The book makes this argument in three ways. First, Brock asserts (and demonstrates) the position of Mary Magdalene as an apostle. Because of the Da Vinci Code, Magdalene is trendy right now. As an academic, Brock doesn't go down any of the loony-fringe paths that some people do. Instead, she gives us good solid scholarship. If you were intrigued by the references to Mary Magdalene in the Da Vinci Code, this would be a good place to look for more serious material, devoid of conspiracy theories.

Second, Brock analyzes the apparent rivalry between Mary Magdalen and Peter. As you might expect, she tends to see the rivalry everywhere, and this doubtless gives an exaggerated picture of the true state of affairs. Still, it is clear from this book that such a rivalry existed between the communities attached to each apostle's tradition.

Third, Brock provides a careful history of a part of the early church, inferred from what little information we have. If you view the early church as relatively unified in the face of repression, you probably won't like seeing the many divisions among the various communities. Brock presents them clearly and sympathetically.

This book began life as a doctoral dissertation. It's academic, heavily footnoted (and sourced), and it could be difficult reading for lay people unfamiliar with textual criticism. That said, and as someone who has read a lot of dissertations, this is very well-written and easier to read than most scholarship. It is accessible to the non-specialist educated reader but will require some effort.

The book does not seem to have any axe to grind with contemporary churches, though Brock apparently could grind some axes if she wanted to. (Brock is Lutheran, and moved from the conservative Missouri Synod to the ELCA in order to be ordained.) One could read the implications of her argument for Catholicism and Protestantism more explicitly than she does, and develop a critique of the Roman Catholic church's teachings on women, Peter and the papacy, and apostolic succession. Brock refrains from doing this.

The central claim is obviously too simple, since there were other groups in the Christian community at the time - - most obviously Paul and his followers, as Brock recognizes. That said, this is a great book. Its central claim may provoke many readers, but it provides enough information in the book for a reader to use as part of a criticism.
6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A Worthy Addition to All Feminists' Libraries 14 décembre 2009
Par C. Miller - Publié sur
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Whether associated with or ambivalent about Christianity, feminists
must read this book. The Christian tradition has influenced the
Western tradition for centuries and continues to influence it today.
The fact that such a dominant institution, at best, inconsistently
recognizes women in positions of power should alarm all feminists
regardless of their religious affiliations. The struggle for the
recognition of Mary Magdalene's apostolic authority not only
represents conflict between factions of the Christian tradition, but
more importantly represents the struggle for women's authority
within Christianity.

Like all good soldiers, feminists should not enter battle unprepared.
This text provides feminists with the ultimate weapon against
ignorance, thorough and well-organized knowledge. Brock first
establishes why apostolic authority matters, then she establishes
Mary Magdalene's apostolic authority, and finally she connects her
authority to women's power within the church. Brock accompanies
each argument with thorough textual analysis. To discredit the Lukan
portrayal of Mary Magdalene, a portrayal which Brock strongly credits
with the demise of her reputation as an apostle, Brock places
passages from Luke, Mathew and Mark side by side. She then proceeds
to demonstrate how despite coming from the same contextual tradition
Luke omits facts which support Mary Magdalene's apostolic authority
in order to improve Simon Peter's apostolic authority. This side by
side comparison continues through not one but eight plus series of
excerpts. The organization of these examples makes them reader
friendly and the thorough analysis of Luke makes criticism
significantly more difficult for opponents. Brock's analysis of Luke
represents her overall close reading of biblical texts and writing

Due to its strong organization, thorough references and
accessibility, Brock's text deserves a place on all feminists'
shelves to serve as a reference for how the Christian tradition
supports women's power within the church.
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