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Mary Magdalene, Bride in Exile Paperback – 27 Sep 2005

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The controversy surrounding Mary Magdalene and her relationship to Jesus has gained widespread international interest since the publication of Dan Brown's novel "The Da Vinci Code", which specifically cites Margaret Starbird's earlier works as a significant source. In "Mary Magdalene, Bride in Exile", Starbird examines the many faces of Mary Magdalene, from the historical woman who walked with Jesus in the villages of Judea to the mythic and symbolic Magdalene who is the archetype of the Sacred Feminine. Starbird reveals exciting new information about the woman who was the most intimate companion of Jesus and offers historical evidence that Mary was Jesus' forgotten bride. Expanding on the discussion of medieval art and lore introduced in her best-selling book "The Woman with the Alabaster Jar", Starbird sifts through the layers of misidentification under which the story of the Lost Bride of Christ has been buried to reveal the slandered woman and the "exiled" feminine principle.

She establishes the identity of the historical female disciple who was the favoured first witness of the Resurrection and provides an interpretation of Mary's true role based on prophecy from the Hebrew Scriptures and the testimony of the canonical gospels of Christianity. Balancing scholarly research with theological reflection, she takes readers deeper into the story and mythology of how Magdalene as the Bride embodies the soul's own journey in its eternal quest for reunion with the Divine.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 18 reviews
83 of 90 people found the following review helpful
The importance of Margaret Starbird's message 3 Sep 2005
By Mary T. Beben - Published on
Format: Paperback
In this best and clearest of her works Margaret has spelled out what was lost from the very start in Christianity and why this loss of Mary Magdalene's correct place next to Jesus, as his beloved, matters still. This book is not a feminist tirade about women's rights, although it upholds the valid need for this sort of reformation. It goes beyond that point to expose damage done to the human soul/spirit because the paradigm of wholeness or union of the human soul with God was skewed early on. She teaches us about the customs and prevailing mindset of the peoples surrounding Jesus and Mary in first century Palestine and we begin to see that there was surely a heiros-gamos or sacred marriage between Jesus and his beloved. This sacred union should have been the model, since it truly reflects the image of life itself. She has rightly stated that her research and her premises are based on the gospel stories themselves and on a solid Judeo-Christian heritage. They cannot be debunked. This is important, breakthrough work that should be considered seriously for the healing and refreshment it can bring to Christianity. Margaret has brought to light challenges that will not easily be overthrown. It is only lack of information about the era that keeps us ignorant of the importance of her work. While no one can prove or disprove an actual marriage between Jesus and Mary, reading this book may convince one that history is not always the way it has seemed for all these years!
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Outstanding 1 Jan 2007
By Dr. James Gardner - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
With her latest book, Bride in Exile, Margaret Starbird joins a few very select biblical scholars (e.g., Spong, Schoenfeld) whose work remains steadfast at an extremely high level. The current book continues the work she started with Woman witn the Alabaster Jar (1993), the Goddess in the Gospels (1998, and Magdalene's Lost Legacy (2003). Her main theses are that Jesus and Mary were married and that knowledge of this marriage was not included in the gospels. This denial of the "sacred marriage" has left Christianity, particularly Catholic Christianity, lacking the feminine counterpart, and thus incomplete. Some lesser themes center around the true meaning of her name (Starbird believes that it is "Mary the Great" rather than Mary of Magdala) and the many myths and legends about Mary that gave birth to the plethora of artwork in the Renaissance.

Comparing this book with her other works, some readers may be disappointed that the role of Mary in legends and folklore and her portrayal in artwork have been placed somewhat on the back burner in favor of a more scholarly approach to establishing the veracity of her theories. Personally I enjoyed the change and find that this book should silence any critics who harp, unfairly, about her lack of scholarly acumen.

This isn't to say that I am in perfect agreement with Starbird on all her points. For example, I don't believe that "James the Lesser" refers to James, the brother of Jesus (p. 21), or that "the other Mary" is Jesus' mother (p. 75). Nor am I convinced that Mary's marriage to Jesus was purposefully kept from the gospels to protect her (p. 31 and elsewhere). I'm more inclined to believe that the mentions of the marriage were removed by competing Christian sects, just as they removed favorable mentions of the activities of other members of Jesus' family (see Jeffrey Butz' The Brother of Jesus for an excellent exploration of this area). But any disagreements with Starbird are minor compared to the evidence she marshalls to support her main views, and on these points she can't be faulted.

Of all her books I think this is the best all around summary of Mary Magdalene. In addition, it may be the best all around summary of Mary by any author. I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in Mary, from beginning students to advanced scholars. It's well written, has good notes, a chronology, and a CD with a one hour lecture.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
The Sacred Union Re-established 18 April 2007
By John W. Koopmans - Published on
Format: Paperback
Based on historical, symbolical, and mythological records and interpretations, Margaret Starbird examines evidence from the Judeo-Christian scriptures and other early writings that supports the claim that Jesus was an essential partner of a time-honoured sacred relationship that was at the heart of his spiritual message. She argues from both a logical and intuitive perspective that the sacred union of Jesus and his bride was the very cornerstone of early Christianity, and the key ingredient for solving many of the ills still faced by Church and Society today.

The significance of understanding and applying the integrated objectives and values of these teachings to both personal and societal practices and pursuits, while maintaining the necessary balance between the two gender-related components, was subsequently lost and distorted by the unbalanced perspective of the male-dominated Church leaders who sought to institutionalize and control the traditions and teachings for almost two millennia. In the wake of this continuous domination, the voice, role and perspectives of women in the Church have become severely curtailed. The Church became the powerful, dominating Bachelor served by the humble, intimidated Maid, rather than a sacred, balanced union of the Groom and Bride in equal partnership. As a result, balance shifted, strict incomplete and distorted interpretations and practices were imposed, and dissent became punishable by imprisonment or death.

Through a careful examination of the disregarded evidence concerning the exiled bride Mary Magdalene and the feminine archetype, Margaret Starbird elevates the reader back to a conscious awareness of what the Church taught in the very beginning - the Sacred Union, and the intimate partnership of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, reflecting the principles of union and love which are necessary to begin the eventual achievement of all levels of personal and societal advancement.

Margaret Starbird's research traces the esoteric origin and development of the Sacred Union or Hieros Gamos wisdom; how it was reflected in the Old and New Testaments; how it went underground for almost two millennia following the patriarchal impositions; how it survived as an underground stream of esoteric wisdom expressed through art, philosophy, literature and religion; and how it continues to struggle into conscious awareness today, as an important archetypal principle, filling and healing the many forgotten voids left in Church and society alike.

Margaret Starbird skillfully brings the principle of the lost feminine archetype back to awareness, restoring Mary Magdalene to the preeminent and intimate position that she once held as the favoured companion of Jesus. She thereby resasserts the forgotten, balanced view of Christianity based on the sacred union as taught by Jesus and expressed in the Gospels. It makes little sense that any responsible rabbi would not teach what he himself did not fully embrace.

For anyone who feels affronted by the continuing reluctance of top male-dominated Church leaders to once again embrace the feminine principle and change the unbalanced, distorted and disrespectful gender attitudes and influences implicit in the administration of many of the institutionalized Christian Churches, and who seeks a healthier, balanced and respectful understanding of the earliest Christian teachings, this well-written and thought-provoking book is one of the most encouraging and sensible on the subject that I have encountered.

The book is written in a style that can be easily understood and appreciated by a man or woman, regardless of the amount of his or her biblical background. It contains 24 colourful, informative plates of Mary Magdalene-related artwork throughout the centuries, a chronology of key events, an index, and a CD which contains an inspirational one hour talk by Margaret Starbird, elaborating on some of the important parts that were raised in the book.

After reading this book, the reader will be inclined to agree with Margaret Starbird that even if Jesus and Mary Magdalene were not intimate partners of a sacred marriage, then in order for the Christian message to be complete and understandable, they should have been.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Starbird as Scholar 14 Jun 2006
By Media Sophia - Published on
Format: Paperback
I'm baffled by criticisms of Margaret Starbird as a scholar. It almost feels faddish to bash her. Her critics seem compelled to accuse Starbird of doing unscholarly work. Odd.

Starbird is an independant scholar, no longer teaching, now devoted to full-time writing and lecturing. Her academic work is impressive. She completed both a BA and MA in Comparative Literature and German at the University of Maryland. After that, she studied for a year on a Fulbright Student Fellowship to Albrechts Universität in Kiel, Germany. She then pursued Doctoral studies in German, Comparative Literature and Linguistics at the University of Maryland. Following that, she studied at Vanderbilt Divinity School in Theological Studies.

Margaret taught university German as full-time faculty at the University of Maryland and North Carolina State University. Following that, she was faculty, teaching religious education and scripture course for a variety of schools, including U.S. Army schools and Roman Catholic parishes. While Margaret was doing her academic work and teaching, she was also moving around the world with her husband and rasing their five children. It would be interesting to see the credentials of her critics.

Meanwhile, experts don't agree about the Magdalene; all we have are glimpses of scriptural figures in the texts. Scholars don't try to "prove" historical facts about figures in the gospels. They know that the gospels, whether orthodox or apocryphal or gnostic, are not historiography but stories written to persuade, convert, or inspire the reader.

Scholars examine the texts to see what they reveal about those who wrote them -- the religious communities and traditions that produced the texts. Each text represents a perspective or version of the Christian story. None of the texts are seen as literally historical, even if containing historical glimpses or references. Scholars evaluate the texts in comparative ways, posing different texts against each other to see how they comment on each other.

Starbird's work has merit as comparative literature. Her books deal with literary interpretation, not history. It's illogical to say her work is "not history"--she isn't claiming to write history. She is interpretating biblical, Christian, Medieval, and literary texts, analyzing them from a rhetorical approach, engaging rhetorical and creative interpretations.

Margaret knows her texts well, she has compared them extensively, and quotes them from memory. She has a gift for finding deeper meanings embedded within texts. She connects the texts, stories, symbols, and traditions to our 21st-century mindset, making them live in contemporary culture. She knows how to use textual figures, such as Jesus and Magdalene, to teach symbolic or metaphorical ideas.

When critics accuse Starbird of claiming an historical marriage of Jesus and Magdalene, they are missing the point of her work--from her first book to the latest. She is trying to teach a concept, a symbolic idea, which lies at the heart of religious and spiritual imagery--the sacred marriage of opposites. Her point or thesis is that this marriage or union of opposites is a truth that transcends and inhabits material forms, affecting them.

Starbird's message was obvious in _Woman With the Alabaster Jar_, and blatant in her most recent book, _Mary Magdalene, Bride in Exile_. Both books offer the thesis of sacred marriage as a central principle of religion. If readers think she's trying to lodge an historical proof that Mary and Jesus were married, then they've missed the point.
55 of 70 people found the following review helpful
There are good historians to back up this story!!! 15 Sep 2005
By Margaret C. Jacob - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you feel you need other detailed historical research to back up Margaret's story here, Custodians of Truth, The Continuance of Rex Deus, by Tim Wallace-Murphy and Marilyn Hopkins, 2005, will give you wonderful back-up history!!! This is just such an important piece of history to understand thoroughly if you want to appreciate the fascination with the DaVinci Code type stories. This was info subjected to the various Inquisitions over and over again, sadly by some of my own ancestors; but more of my ancestors had Margaret's "story" passed on to them in their Initiatory organizations, and know there is plenty of truth here that now needs to be made public. Thanks to Margaret for helping with that process, as it should make the world a gentler place when we realize we do not need an exterior authority to "save us from sin" and to exterminate those who disagree; we need to realize The Kingdom is Within, and get on with understanding our Oneness with the Quantum worlds now being explained by great physicists like Michio Kaku.

Another great new book written by someone who's studied this for more than 30 yrs. also, is Stephen Mehler's, From Light into Darkness. The connection of Jesus and Mary to ancient Egypt is made clear. This is important information that will be coming out more and more now as it is imperative for our evolution into the higher quantum worlds around us!!
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