Born of a Woman: A Bishop Rethinks the Birth of Jesus

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HarperSanFrancisco, 1992 - Religion - 245 pages
Integrating his love and respect for scripture with his keen understanding of current biblical scholarship and the needs of modern peoples, Bishop John Shelby Spong explores the virgin Mary tradition and its contemporary repercussions. Born of a Woman traces the fascinating evolution of the doctrine in the early Christian church and the Christmas narratives that Jesus' mother was a virgin. Illuminating the implications of these writings, Spong persuasively and provocatively shows the Bible's depiction of a virginal, revered yet subservient, Mary to be a "subtle, unconscious source for the continued oppression of women" and a God-given legitimization of the second-class status of women in Western history. The legacy of the Mary myths, suggests Spong, is pervasive and can be seen in our attitudes toward women and female sexuality, sexual harassment in the workplace, the notion of a celibate priesthood, and the exclusion of women from positions of ecclesiastical power. Applauding the fact that "the feminine aspect of God so long oppressed by the masculine patriarchy is roaring back into our awareness, sweeping away our male prejudices and even our male definitions of the ideal woman", Spong shows that by reclaiming the humanity of Christianity's central female figure, we reshape and liberate our own humanity. "Literalized symbols", writes Spong, "are doomed symbols", and the profound meaning behind the symbolism of Christmas - that God can be experienced fully in human history; that by faith we perceive in the life, love, and being of Jesus the life, love, and being of God; that human life alone could not have created the power that Jesus possessed - becomes available to many only whenliteralism is swept aside.

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User Review  - GaryMiller - LibraryThing

This is another book many would consider heresy, so if offended by different perspectives ignore this. According to the creation story, Adam was “created in the image of God”, but Eve was an ... Read full review

Born of a woman: a bishop rethinks the birth of Jesus

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Spong, an Episcopal bishop and best-selling author ( Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism , HarperSanFrancisco: HarperCollins, 1991), provides a courageous look at the biblical stories of the birth ... Read full review


Escaping Biblical Literalism
Approaching the Story Through Midrash
Born of a WomanPauls Witness

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About the author (1992)

Scholar, author and bishop, John Shelby Spong was born in 1931 in Charlotte, North Carolina. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1952 and received his Master of Divinity degree in 1955 from the Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary in Virginia. That seminary and St. Paul's College have both conferred on him honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees. Ordained in 1955, he is now bishop of the Episcopal diocese of Newark, New Jersey. As the most-published member of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church in the United States, Spong is the author of 14 books and more than 90 articles, including Honest Prayer (1973), Dialogue ? In Search of Jewish-Christian Umderstanding (1975), The Living Commandments (1977), Into the Whirlwind: The Future of the Church (1983), Living in Sin? A Bishop Rethinks Human Sexuality (1988), Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism: A Bishop Rethinks the Meaning of Scripture (1991), and Resurrection: Myth or Reality? (1994). With an active interest in football, basketball and baseball, Bishop Spong was at one time a play-by-play announcer for radio stations in Tarboro, North Carolina, and Lynchburg, Virginia. In addition, he served as sports editor for The Daily Southerner in Tarboro. Bishop Spong resides in Morristown, New Jersey.

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