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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superior work to Karen L. King's analysis, 5 May 2013
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E. L. Wisty "World Domination League" (O'er Hill And Dale) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Gospel of Mary: Beyond a Gnostic and a Biblical Mary Magdalene (Paperback)
Whilst I admire Karen L. King's scholarship, her The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle felt unsatisfactory in many ways. This book by Esther de Boer feels much superior in its analysis and depth.

De Boer does not think that the Gospel of Mary is Gnostic. Unlike King who just dismisses the concept of Gnosticism altogether, de Boer goes into great depth to explain exactly why she does not believe it to be a Gnostic work. By analysing the discussion of the material world in the Gospel, and appealing to the ideas of Stoicism and Philo of Alexandria, she cogently argues that it does not demonstrate any evidence of dualism and creation of the material world by the Demiurge. On the section describing the ascent of the soul, de Boer remarks that these ideas are not in themselves unique to Gnostic schools. Personally I am not convinced as the example given feels rather different to what is described in the Gospel of Mary and indeed many other decidedly Gnostic works. Sadly the fragmentary state of our manuscripts means that we will probably never be able to arrive at any answer with certainty short of a future discovery of an intact copy.

Apart from the Gospel of Mary, much of the book also analyses in great depth the portrayal of Mary Magdalene and also of women in general in the canonical Gospels, and the relation to the portrayal in the Gospel of Mary. The Gospel of John is considered to be closest to the Gospel of Mary in its portrayal of Mary Magdalene, and in a slightly outlandish section the possibility of Mary being John's "beloved disciple" is mooted. De Boer notes that, contrary to what some people like to think, the portrayal of women in Gnosticism is not universally positive, nor is it always negative in canonical texts.

De Boer sees the Gospel of Mary as preserving some historical traditions about Mary, and that the purpose of the work is as an exhortation to preach the Gospel, and also to counter any tendency to dismiss the witness of women purely because of their gender.

Whilst I am not convinced by all the conclusions of de Boer, this book is essential reading for anyone studying both the Gospel of Mary itself and the portrayal of women in the canonical gospels.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bless the memory of Esther de Boer, 7 Sept. 2011
This review is from: The Gospel of Mary: Beyond a Gnostic and a Biblical Mary Magdalene (Paperback)
This book is truly "ground-breaking". It is a striding example of fair, well-researched and thought-provoking scholarship and is and was surely the "magnum opus" of Esther de Boer's academic career.

Esther passed away in July of last year (2010). When I read this book at the start of this year; I was not yet aware of the 51 year old author's untimely passing. This knowledge only confirmed to me how special this book really is, and I hope that it becomes well-known, in honour of the woman who wrote it and her incredible life of biblical scholarship which will surely outlive her for many, many years to come.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book, 13 July 2011
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R. Sykes (Mirfield, West Yorkshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Gospel of Mary: Beyond a Gnostic and a Biblical Mary Magdalene (Paperback)
The author, who has sadly died recently, was a leading scholar on Mary Magdalene, and this book is an excellent commentary on The Gospel of Mary. Esther de Boer reviews the evidence fairly and always gives reasonable explanations for her conclusions. The discussion of the possibility that Mary was the disciple Jesus loved is well balanced and she basically leaves the reader to reach his or her own conclusions based on the points raised. Anyone interested in Mary Magdalene will find this book extremely useful and very enjoyable.
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The Gospel of Mary: Beyond a Gnostic and a Biblical Mary Magdalene
The Gospel of Mary: Beyond a Gnostic and a Biblical Mary Magdalene by Esther A. de Boer (Paperback - 3 Jun. 2005)
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