Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Book of Mary

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Book of Mary

Article excerpt

The Book of Mary. By Nicola Slee. London: SPCK Publishing, 2007. 160 pp. £10.99 (paper).

In the introduction to The Book of Mary. Nicola Slee admits that the image of Mary, mother of Jesus, functions in the Christian psyche as Christ does: "as a kind of reflective screen upon which has been projected a culture's shifting ideals and aspirations around humanity, sanctity, and deity. Specifically. Mary has functioned as a mirror for society's notions of the female, of the holy and of the divine feminine at anyone time" (p. 7). Slee, a theologian and poet, has taken on this intriguing, overwhelming, and overdetermined figure through a series of poems that explore different aspects of the Marian interpretive tradition and piety.

Variously earthy, ecstatic, and funny, the poems engage with the wellknown motifs of Mary's faith, expressed by her "yes to God," her uniqueness. and her emblematic representation of maternal suffering and loss. Slee expands the tradition by naming denied or suppressed dimensions of Mary and giving them narrativi- and imaginative shape. These include Mary's companionship, not only with Elizabeth, but xxith other sisters through history; her sexuality; and her resistance and refusal: "Mary Says No." One section celebrates the image of Mary as an authoritative teacher and writer and another identifies her with ministry and the priesthood of women. Treating these different themes as concrete and narrative poems, rather than as speculative and deductive theology. Slee invites readers into imaginative engagement with the contradictions of the subject rather than arguing for one perspective or interpretation. Hermeneutics of suspicion, retrieval, and creative representation all contribute to the critical and appreciative treatment of Mary. …

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