The Real Mary: The Marginalization and Transformation of the Jewish Mother of Jesus

Some might think that the “title” of this lecture has to be incorrect–after all, is not Mary the most prominent woman in history? How could one possibly present her as marginalized?

In fact, Mary, the mother of Jesus is at once the “best known” and “least known” woman in human history. Unquestionably her name is more familiar to more people than any other woman over the past 2000 years–yet she was totally TRANSFORMED from the Jewish woman, likely widowed, of seven to ten children, to a barely human–even heavenly figure– of piety.

Mary, the mother of Jesus is at once the “best known” and “least known” woman in human history

She was robbed of her Jewish faith, her children, and her sexuality as a woman. The image of a Nun is one that most often comes to mind–totally removed from the revolutionary time and place in which she lived and raised her family. I cover this in detail in my forthcoming book, Mary Lost: How the Jewish Mother of Jesus Became the Virgin Mother of God (Knopf: 2023)–which is already out in French under the title Marie: De son enhance juice à la foundation du christianisme.

In this lecture, which was part of a Biblical Archaeology Society seminar, is the first time I have begun to lay out the main points of my decade long research on Mary, mother of Jesus.

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