A Virgin Conceived: Mary and Classical Representations of by Mary F. Foskett

By Mary F. Foskett

The virginity of Mary has been an influential guiding principle of Christian trust, a catalyst for Marian devotion, and a origin for the development of lady Christian piety and perform. unlike earlier biblical interpreters who've drawn on both linguistic or historic facts to wonder if Mary the parthenos is certainly a "virgin," during this learn Mary F. Foskett takes a diversified direction. instead of investigating the that means and implications of the Virgin as a reified image, A Virgin Conceived examines the portrayal of Mary as a virgin in very important early Christian narratives: the canonical Luke-Acts and the second-century Protevangelium of James. Foskett explores the a number of meanings and photos that parthenos and virginity exhibit in assets and describes how they take advantage of this variety of attainable meanings of their representations of Mary. Her learn departs from prior biblical interpretation through emphasizing neither the paradox of the time period parthenos nor the background of culture pertaining to Mary. as a substitute, it screens the a number of meanings of "virginity" and their implications for knowing representations of the Virgin Mary.

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Extra resources for A Virgin Conceived: Mary and Classical Representations of Virginity

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44 Hence it is the unsealed jug that ®ows to release blood and also receives semen. Yet the exact images that the medical writers intended to convey remain cloudy. The question remains whether the vagina, in particular, was sealed by a hymen or not. Sissa argues that the Greek writers posited the hymen (membrane) only as an anomaly, a pathological condition. 48 Contra Roman opinion, Soranus argues that menstruation and reproductive health are not contingent upon ¤rst intercourse. Defying both Greek and Roman medical wisdom, he contends that virginity is not dangerous.

Mihi virginitatem eripuit,” Controv. 1). As a bodily condition, it connotes chastity. Thus one speaker argues vehemently that “(n)o one can be convicted of unchastity unless her body has been violated” (Controv. 8). Without physical evidence to the contrary, chastity is assumed. Yet the declamations also include disputation over this very point. The question of whether virginity, in and of itself, is suf¤cient evidence of chastity persists throughout Seneca’s text. Is the body an adequate witness to the chastity that a priestess should exhibit?

Unless there is particular reason to believe otherwise, the parthenia of a parthenos is regularly assumed. ”12 If the sexual life of a parthenos remained clandestine, she would retain her sexual status. Not surprisingly, the surest evidence of virginity lost was pregnancy. Sissa considers the designations parthenios and parthenias (“son of a virgin” and “daughter of a virgin”) in light of ancient stories about parthenoi giving birth to children. Evidence more damning than any test for parthenia, children of parthenoi were public testimonies to their mothers’ forbidden sexuality.

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