The Darkest Icon
Paperback, 506 Pages
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"The Darkest Icon: the Virgin Mary in her own time" is a unique and exhaustive anthropological treatment of the cultural predicament of the mother of Jesus in her own lifetime and in the earliest and most formative years of Christianity. The author places Mary in the context of the honor and shame patriarchies from the ancient Near East to the modern Mediterranean world, and explores the profound social consequences of her untimely conception of a mamzer child who would become a prolific public figure. Old testament and Talmudic sources are compared to New Testament, patristic and pagan texts with an eye more toward the effects of historical and religious memory on community formation than on theological development or textual hermeneutics. The book considers how the Marian "scandal" played a critical role in Jesus' mission, the Church's formation, the division of Church and Synagogue, the trial of Jesus, and the development of the gospels.
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May 21, 2015Gruber's work here breathes new life into the socio-cultural context in which the historical Jesus and Mary were deeply imbedded! From revealing references in the Book of James that correspond to the Qumran Manual of Discipline to anthropological discussions of Honor/Shame dichotomies present in Mediterranean societies, Gruber shows both his insightful creativity as an anthropologist and his depth of understanding of biblical cultures. Considering the lowly and specialized legal status of "Jesus as Mamzer", Gruber presents a unique perspective on the social ramifications of Jesus' ministry. From this vantage point, Jesus was able to reach prostitutes and tax collectors because mainstream Judaism organized society in such a way as to include him in their lowly ranks; especially in a post-Hillel Temple world-view. Furthermore, Gruber places the Holy Family firmly within the context of an oppressed, Law-bound Jewish cultural milieu whose system of social strata put them in a... More > precarious position. For the unbeliever today, this position now revealed is enlightening, and for the believer, it adds credence to the notion of the Son of God's existential condition being that of the first of the last, the Suffering Servant, etc. One potential criticism some readers may level against this work is Gruber's lack of many parenthetical citations. While his style is somewhat impressionistic, he does warn in his preface that the academician may feel "put off" by the book's paucity of citations. However, I do not believe that his credibility is betrayed by his style. Gruber's musings are the educated estimations of an anthropologist; and can serve to fill in the gaps of the Gospel with ideas of plausible thoughts/behaviors in a given agent's repertoire. While one can argue that some of Gruber's ideas are conjecture, he is beginning, like Mary Douglas (Purity/Danger) and Levi-Strauss (binary oppositions) with a dichotomous culture theory stance and using ethnographically relevant ideas to flesh out the "historical Mary"; and add a cultural dimension to the mystical Christ that is sorely needed. The content is dense with insight. This truly is a one of a kind work and stands as both a social science hypothesis and a hymn to the Mother of God. If, as Gruber says, woman gain prestige in the honor/shame culture to the degree to which she submits to her man, Mary deserves the fullest measure of prestige for the life-long suffering she endured by her submission to God's will.< Less
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- Mark Gruber (Standard Copyright License)
- May 21, 2015
- Perfect-bound Paperback
- Interior Ink
- Black & white
- 1.83 lbs.
- Dimensions (inches)
- 6 wide x 9 tall
- Product ID
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