Underpinned by a rigorous feminist analysis of ancient religious texts and historical accounts, Miraculous Birth across the Ancient Mediterranean presents detailed evidence indicating that the pursuit of divine conception was considered an organized sacerdotal activity for women. The book does not argue whether or not birth through miraculous means is or ever was actually possible; rather, it demonstrates that divine birth was believed in antiquity to be possible, and served as a significant theme of ancient Mediterranean religions that has not been sufficiently explored.
The analysis reveals while the phenomenon had perhaps its most dramatic expression in the case of the Virgin Mary, its roots predate Christianity. Miraculous Birth across the Ancient Mediterranean centers on the women involved in such stories, figures usually given marginal attention. The interpretation presented of figures purportedly involved in divine birth includes Sarah (mother of Isaac), Anne (mother of Mary), Mary (mother of Jesus), and Elizabeth (mother of John the Baptist). Author Marguerite Rigoglioso demonstrates that their stories did not arise in a vacuum, but were linked to a trajectory of female-oriented lore and practice in the ancient world.
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1. Egyptian Queens: Wives of Gods, Mothers of Divine Pharaohs 2. "Nymphs" and "Heroines": Divine Birth Priestesses in Greece 3. Mothers of the Divinely Born Pythagoras, Plato, and Alexander 4. Vestal Virgins of Rome: Vestige of the Holy Parthenoi 5. Virgin Mothers of Sumerian Divine Kings 6. Sarah: Hebrew Priestess of Divine Birth 7. Anne, Mary, and Elizabeth: Agents of Miraculous Conception 8. Alchemy: Male Appropriation of Divine BirthReview:
‘Miraculous Birth across the Ancient Mediterranean is iconoclastic as well as heralding emerging transformative scholarship.’ -- Lucia Birnbaum, California Institute of Integral Studies, USA
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