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Woman With The Alabaster Jar [Paperback]

Margaret Starbird
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 18 2001
Margaret Starbird’s theological beliefs were profoundly shaken when she read Holy Blood, Holy Grail, a book that dared to suggest that Jesus Christ was married to Mary Magdalen and that their descendants carried on his holy bloodline in Western Europe. Shocked by such heresy, this Roman Catholic scholar set out to refute it, but instead found new and compelling evidence for the existence of the bride of Jesus--the same enigmatic woman who anointed him with precious unguent from her “alabaster jar.”

In this provocative book, Starbird draws her conclusions from an extensive study of history, heraldry, symbolism, medieval art, mythology, psychology, and the Bible itself. The Woman with the Alabaster Jar is a quest for the forgotten feminine--in the hope that its return will help restore a healthy balance to planet Earth.

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“Margaret Starbird is a seeker after truth. She seeks to recover the long-suppressed, and not infrequently emotionally opposed, feminine side of the Christian story. Hers is an exciting narrative probing regions of thought long neglected. Magdalen, the Great Mary, emerges with new power.” (John Shelby Spong, Episcopal bishop and author of Born of a Woman)

"This fascinating and courageous narrative takes a fresh look at the true meaning of the Holy Grail and the defeminization of the early church, and comes up with some shocking revelations that may change the way one perceives Christianity forever." (Nexus)

"Margaret Starbird's work is of particular interest to me because it fuses the diverse fields of symbolism, mythology, art, heraldry, psychology, and gospel history. Her research opens doors for each of us to further explore the rich iconography of our own spiritual history." (Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code)

"Offers an alternative view of Christianity for women. . . . It cannot be ignored." (Publishers Weekly)

"Provocative and controversial--it will outrage some and give hope to others." (Catholic Women's Network)

"As Starbird says, 'No wonder icons of Mary weep!' " (National Catholic Reporter)

About the Author

MARGARET STARBIRD is the author of The Goddess in the Gospels, Magdalene’s Lost Legacy, and Mary Magdalene: Bride in Exile. She lives near Seattle, Washington.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Insighful Read July 10 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I found this book to be very insightful and thought-provoking. Not a religious person but I do have my beliefs. A great deal of what Ms. Starbird did in fact make sense. I did read the "Bride in Exile" and found it to be a repeat of this book and not as good.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Putting new wine in the old wineskin July 10 2004
Did Mary Magdalene have an ecstatic relationship with Christ?
Yes, but you will need to look elsewhere to get in touch it. Seeking to understand their relationship is worth the effort. This book will not help, though. Read this book only for cautionary purposes.
This is not a scholarly book. It tries to do many thing, but fails to penetrate deeply into any. For a better encounter with mystic grail followers, see Umberto Eco's "Foucault's Pendulum". Much more challenging, but it will stick with you a lot longer. For the juice on fertility rites, see Joseph Campbell's "The King and the Corpse". To meet Mary herself, see LeLoup's "The Gospel of Mary Magdalene".
Starbird describes Mary Magdalene as a rather inert object of Christ's libidinal passions. Mary never speaks directly in this book. She acts as sublime priestess of matrimonial ritual, but she only acts out the dance others created. She carries/nurtures the seed of Christ, but whatever that involved, StarBird never personalizes. In the end, we are left with something of an argument for divine-right political legitimacy. The patrimony of David is highly exalted here.
Rather than illuminating anything Jesus or Mary Magdalene said while walking this earth, as lovers or otherwise, Starbird shoehorns the couple into the mold of ancient Egyptian and Babylonian magic. Starbird keeps her two lovers silent. It is much easier to keep the revolutionaries under control that way. Starbird is advocating the most conservative of views: Let us return to the rites of the Pharohs, all that was important was known to them. Reports of newer insights are merely mirage.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Well done indeed - deep waters deftly drawn. July 5 2004
Reviewer: Steve Kane (see more about me) from Arcos Valdevez, - Portugal It is no criticism that I was able to speed-read this (unlike the other books I've reviewed in this genre)- after all it re-presents much from "Holy Blood Holy Grail" etc - besides this is home territory to me and as such this is the first good basic contemporary primer to this part of the Historical Angle of this theme.
Now what? Lets drop the kings and aristocracy - this was just to "keep up with the muslims" in the main whose kings (and most of "our" kings including Elizabeth II and the Duque de Bragança) are decended from the prophet via FÁTIMA) - if you as a prosletising faith find yourself able to convert nations via kings (instead of real folk one by one) you want a "royal product". So what if Jesus was descended from David - I am descended from the more ancient Mileasian and Fir Bolg kings of Ireland - should direct me to a humble style not the to grasp for temporal or spiritual "Stuff'n'Status"
Sarah was the divine maid/divinity (Like "Fulla", and as became Vesta/Hestia under the Olympian Tyranny) So she hides. Real gents apprentice themselves to her like the "Male Maids" or the "French Maids". (Of popular derision) Its just that they might allow themselves - like Robert Graves needed to (and many poets) to serve a kindly and patient mistress who is our friend Sara, (rather than the cruel mistress - perhaps the church or dogma?), daughter of Magdalen and maid to all the sacred ladies (particularly the true witness Maria Salome - midwife and "layer out" of our earest friend.)
Her maidship is her badge of authenticity - her black and white the robes of a priest of the Mountain Mother. Keep her in the parlour and attending the mystical bed - a Eunoukhos indeed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very good read June 27 2004
I really enjoyed reading this book. Margaret Starbird obviously dedicated a lot of herself to researching the history and symbolism and also agrees there is no way to prove this hypothesis. Very interesting history in any case. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the Mary Magdalene story or in the politics and how it was expressed in art of the period.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but misleading June 20 2004
I find speculative history as interesting as the next person, but the problems with Starbird's work are fatal. For one, she presents a "straw man" church against which to rail. Obviously, the church has had flaws, but Starbird ignores its complexity. Also, she presents a picture of the Cathars that they would not recognize. As a gnostic movement, they rejected the physical and the bodily completely. How such an idea is transformed into liberation for women is mystifying. Ironically, the strongest women of the age were those who embraced the body and affective piety--Margery Kempe, Julian of Norwich. Her "evidence" that Jesus married Magdalen is, to say the least, highly creative but hardly comvincing. Most bothersome is the way she has posited herself as an orthodox Catholic who finally saw the light for half a dozen books now. How many times can you lose your virginity? Once seems plenty.
Finally, as interesting as I find these kinds of speculations, I am always somewhat troubled by the elitism. There is always, in any brand of gnosticism, the suggestion that a select few get to know and understand the "real" history, the "real" message, the "real" Jesus. If Starbird is right, billions of Christians have been wrong, and only an impossibly small clique in only a few brief moments have had access to the truth. Of course, she is one of them. As are you, the reader. Does that make you feel special? For all of orthodoz Christianity's problems--and they are legion--at least it insists that the gospel is open to all people, everywhere, and in all ages.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Yet more proof...
Amazingly, Starbird uses many biblical sources to prove Magdalen was the wife and mother of Jesus' child. It's staggering the amount of information packed into this book. Read more
Published on July 14 2004 by Tad J. Miller
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Great
This work explores some fascinating ideas about the identity and role of Mary Magdalen. From the perspective of one who does not have an extensive background in Christian theory,... Read more
Published on July 11 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars The woman with the alabaster jar: mary magdalene and the hol
I believe anyone who discredits this book & any other of Margarets publishings is simply not at the level of openness (because of fear based reactions) to awaken to the truth... Read more
Published on May 3 2004 by "neptuneyes"
1.0 out of 5 stars Complete Bunk
In order to believe Starbird's contentions, you have to assume that not only the Gospels were written much later than most Bible scholars now admit, you also have to assume the... Read more
Published on April 17 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book!
For someone who is interested in theology --- this is a great book! Loved every page --- I couldn't put it down.
Published on April 12 2004 by S. Bruce
4.0 out of 5 stars good work for challeging exisiting concepts
The first part of the book is exceptionally well done and provides insight and depth into a challeging concept. Read more
Published on April 2 2004 by "rges"
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Reading!
Despite the ecclesiastical criticisms leveled against them by so-called Christians, Starbird and Sweeney do an excellent job documenting their assertions in this splendid work of... Read more
Published on March 1 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Skeptics beware
This was a great book! There are several reviews posted about this book that blatanly bash it. This is only a possibility, and a good one at that. Read more
Published on Feb. 15 2004 by William Byrd
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