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The Making of the Magdalen: Preaching and Popular Devotion in the Later Middle Ages Paperback – 14 Apr 2015

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Winner of the John Gilmary Shea Prize, American Catholic Historical Association

"Jansen's book is both a superb study of the character of Mary Magdalen as interpreted by later medievals as well as a paradigmatic methodological study for approaching the intriguing question of the reception of the medieval sermon. . . . [It will be] a standard for both women's studies and the study of sermon literature. . . .The book should enjoy wide readership, not only by those interested in the Magdalen, but also by students and professionals alike who might look to this study for scholarly guidance--such its intellectual scope and methodological competence."--Joan Mueller, Theological Studies

"Jansen shows that the issue of gender was close to the surface in every phase of the Magdalen cult, bound up with the continuing debate over women as preachers and with questions of authority. On the whole she employs gender analysis convincingly to clarify some puzzling texts."--Donald Weinstein, Renaissance Quarterly

"[An] elegant and learned book. . . . it goes beyond it predecessors in several ways. . .. Jansen has produced a disciplined, tightly focused historical monograph. . .. The final result is theologically sophisticated and sociologically interesting."--Augustine Thompson, American Historical Review

"An ambitious and important book. . . . Having read it one is guaranteed to see medieval representations of the Magdalen with new eyes."--Jussi Hanska, Journal of Ecclesiastical History

"Jansen has a genuine gift for relating the story of the Magdalen to the larger religious and social history of the period. It is highly readable, learned, full of interesting material gleaned from primary archival research, and amply illustrated."--Lawrence S. Cunningham, Commonwealth

"Jansen's careful scholarship, detailed footnotes, and useful bibliography make the book a 'must have' for anyone interested in Magdalenian studies. The 'Royal Response' chapter alone makes the book a 'must have' for anyone interested in the intersection of politics, religion, and the multifaceted relations arising from their heady mix."--Whitney Leeson, Sixteenth Century Journal

"A tremendous, ambitious, and worthy work of erudition and scholarship."--Linda E. Mitchell, The Historian

"This is an important book that deserves to be widely known."--Constant J. Mews, Journal of Religious History

"Jansen offers us a well-written book that brilliantly explores one of the most important saintly cults of the medieval era."--Bernard Schlager, The Historian

From the Back Cover

"An exciting and well-written work based on outstanding research. Katherine Jansen neatly lays out how the late medieval Magdalen was 'created,' partly by errors and misunderstandings, partly as conscious creation for both spiritual and political needs. There are moments in this book that are as much fun as a good mystery story."--Penelope D. Johnson, New York University

"Katherine Jansen's major study emerges as a real masterpiece. With subtlety and clarity she untangles the thread of multiple images of the saint, sometimes contradictory or paradoxical. She has established an exemplary historical study of undeniable solidity and great suggestive force."--Nicole Beriou, University Lumière Lyon 2 (France)

"A wonderful book: exhaustively researched, masterfully crafted, deftly written, strongly persuasive, and full of keen-sighted aperçus."--Robert E. Lerner, Northwestern University

"Spirituality, iconography, saints, cults, religious women, and Mary Magdalen herself, all marginal to historical discourse until recently, are skillfully woven together in this book of central importance for understanding later medieval religion and society."--Lester K. Little, American Academy in Rome

"Thoroughly grounded in the intricacies and history of medieval Magdalen legends, Jansen's superb research of previously unexplored sources highlights new evidence that medieval preachers were convinced that Mary Magdalen indeed preached. This fascinating book casts new light on how Mary Magdalen was represented in sermons, art, and the minds of late medieval Christians. Captivating and essential reading for scholars of medieval religion and history, this clearly written book will appeal to all those interested in Mary Magdalen."--Beverly Kienzle, Harvard Divinity School

"This original and beautifully written book traces change in the image of and devotion to Mary Magdalen from the High Middle Ages to the cusp of modernity. This is a book for historians and history buffs, feminists and all who are interested in Christian popular devotion."--E. Ann Matter, University of Pennsylvania

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
On 9 December 1279 an ancient sarcophagus in the crypt of the church of Saint-Maximin near Aix-en-Provence was opened and its contents inspected. Read the first page
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Laity in the Middle Ages 23 Oct. 2008
By KD - Published on
Format: Paperback
The Making of the Magdalen is a great book, one of the best from my Christian History class. Well written and very interesting, sheds a lot of light on the spiritual lives of the laity during the Middle Ages and the rise of the mendicant orders (Dominicans and Franciscans). I learned a lot about the social history of the middle ages and the psychology of the mendicant preachers...

I also enjoyed it for its joyful, open brush with feminism: it was not at all angry, bitter or revisionist, which sometimes feminist religious writings can be, but was pleasantly honest about the great things going on with women in the church, and a few of the problems as well. But feminism is not a focus of this book- I just wanted to mention that I found it refreshing.

All in all, a fantastic book. Highly recommended.
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
amazing research 1 Oct. 2002
By Isabelle - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is not only well written, it is full of great primary sources. I am doing doctoral work on Mary Magdalen and it has been very helpful in my research.
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