Here is the first thorough reflection on the importance of Mary by women writing from the perspective of Latin American liberation theology. Gebara and Bingemer offer a vision of Mary in sharp contrast to the traditional. This is the Mary of the Magnificat: a figure who challenges male-centrism, dualism, idealism, and one-dimensionalism. The authors focus on the idea of Mary as one who lives in God, on the feminine element of the divine, and on the personal factors which color their own perspectives. By delving into the Scriptures, they place Mary in her social, political, and economic context. Reviewing both the Old and New Testaments, they point to Mary as both heir and one who begins something new. In dealing with the traditions of the Church, Gebara and Bingemer rethink Marian dogmas - an area not only ecumenically controversial but also morally challenging. Beginning in the 16th century, the authors survey the history of Marian devotion, exploring the initial appearance of Mary to the Indian Juan Diego (Guadalupe), and reflecting on all the phenomena connected to the figure of Mary. The mystery of Mary brings a new word about God, they note. Her humanity entirely open . . . and her full participation in the enterprise of this Kingdom help us perceive who the God of the Kingdom is: God the Creator, who does not cease to perform wonders on behalf of the poor.
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Ivone Gebara is Professor of Philosophy and Theology at the Theological Institute of Recife, Brazil. Maria Clara Bingemer is Professor of Systematic Theology at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro and Regional Coordinator of the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians.
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