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 prior biblical interpreters who've drawn on both linguistic or ancient facts to wonder if Mary the parthenos is certainly a "virgin," during this examine Mary F. Foskett takes a assorted path. 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 vital 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 resources and describes how they take advantage of this diversity of attainable meanings of their representations of Mary. Her learn departs from prior biblical interpretation via emphasizing neither the anomaly of the time period parthenos nor the heritage of culture referring to Mary. in its place, it screens the a number of meanings of "virginity" and their implications for figuring out representations of the Virgin Mary.
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Extra info for A Virgin Conceived: Mary and Classical Representations of Virginity
As Aune notes, “Plutarch does refer to the Pythia as ‘regaining her composure’ after descending from the tripod (Amatorius 759b), a reference which seems to presuppose a prior state of excitation, and in De Pyth. 73 Just as medical writers identify optimal bodily conditions for sexual intercourse, so does Plutarch insist that particular conditions of the female’s body and soul either inhibit or facilitate reception of the god. The seer is to “surrender herself to the control of the god” only when she is unhindered by bodily and psychic distractions.
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? Or must the virgin produce additional evidence of her chastity?
Given the norm of marriage that permeates the Mishnah, the latter case was likely expected to remain in the minority. Ideally, minor daughters were both constrained by patriarchal authority and attributed sexual and reproductive power. As Wegner observes, the young girl possesses one salient characteristic: She is a sexual chattel. 112 Bodies and Selves 49 Several interpreters have identi¤ed ways in which control of female sexuality, especially that of the minor daughter, permeates rabbinic sexual rhetoric.