The Miriam of history and the Mary of faith?

The Miriam of history and the Mary of faith?

The professional debunkers of Tradition and faith have turned their eyes from Jesus to His Mother, including this professor of theology at two local Catholic colleges, Virginia Kimball.

“Unraveling the myths about Mary”

Mary is a near-total cipher in terms of documented biography; like her son, she is a canvas on which different cultures and generations have painted their own notions. The result, Kimball says, has been to discard the real Miriam, her Hebrew name, and the scene at Bethlehem.
“Many people today look at the Nativity scene as if it’s a pageant . . . where everybody’s there: the kings, the shepherds, the baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the angel, the star, everything,” says Kimball, who teaches at Merrimack College in North Andover and Assumption College in Worcester. That sacrifices historical reality (for instance, she says, there’s no way three kings would have attended the birth in the company of lowly shepherds).
Meanwhile, Mary has morphed into myth, reflected in the reverent titles piled on her head—queen of heaven, mother of the church—that “are pushing the figure of Mary almost to the position of an Isis,” the ancient Egyptian goddess, rather than a historical woman, Kimball says.

Fisking this would take forever and be nearly as long as the original article. For instance, Scripture doesn’t call the three men “kings” but “wise men”, and neither does it say that they were present at the birth of Christ, but some time later at the Epiphany. With such elemental mistakes, it’s not surprising how quickly she goes off the rails on Mary too.

What we have here is the “demythologizing” of Mary, akin to what the Jesus Seminar has done to her Son. Just as we have been told that there is a Jesus of history and Christ of faith, we are now being told of a Miriam of history and a Mary of faith.

Perhaps the occupation most dangerous to your salvation is the study of theology. I think the reason is self-evident.

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  • for instance, she says, there’s no way three kings would have attended the birth in the company of lowly shepherds

    I always want to ask people who make such statements: “Because you say so?”; by what authority does she make such a claim?

  • Well, fisking it may take forever, but let’s take a start:

    Mary is a near-total cipher in terms of documented biography.

    OK, so Matthew and Luke don’t really count.  But if (let’s say) Flavius Josephus the historian had been there, and had published an account in his Antiquities, that would count.

    Didn’t Pope Benedict say something recently about people who only accept truth if it can be empirically measured? 

    Pardon me while I thonk my head against the wall a few more times.

  • “Catholic university theologian Bashes Catholic beliefs” is the only way to get a journalist’s attention.  Is there anyone more credulous than a lazy religion reporter?

  • If you read the entire article it isn’t quite so bad. For example:

    Kimball’s own spiritual life has zig-zagged from childhood Quakerism to Catholicism to her current Greek Orthodox Christianity. Far from rejecting all that tradition says about Jesus’ mother, she believes in the virgin birth and other Christian theology about Mary.

    Just because someone converts a lot doesn’t mean they’re crazy. I am 100% against this historical crap (the Jesus Seminar, et al.). But it’s important in a blog to show both sides. This is a bit of a “prooftext” entry which I don’t think paints a full picture. I think bloggers need to give people the benefit of the doubt. Don’t judge this lady’s thought just based on a short piece in the Globe.

  • I have heard that the study specifically of the Bible in great depth has actually led straight past Phariseeism to outright loss of faith. 

    I’m thinking that the study of theology as it affects the loss of faith is directly proportionally to the orthodoxy of the teacher.  Thus I would not consider any program associated with teachings that are so…confused as anything but “anti-theology”.

    Unfortunately, most anti-theology degrees are usually hidden behind the term “Theology” even at the most dissenting universities.

  • Wouldn’t it make more sense for her to say, “Since the word referring to Jesus in the Wise Men scene is ‘paidion’, and that means a toddler kid, it obviously takes place a whiles after the shepherds and the baby bit. But artists conflate both scenes for reasons of symbolic and artistic unity.”

    Of course, maybe she did and the reporter didn’t.

  • Herod ordered the killing of all babies two years and under.  If Jesus was a newborn at the time of the Magi’s arrival the killing of babies 6 months and under would have been ordered.

    Why is it that dissidents trot out old stuff e.g the Magi and the shepherds weren’t there together as if they had made an earth shaking discovery which discredited belief in Christianity.

    Let’s not cut people like these or the bishops who don’t require a mandatum any slack because they are probably responsible for the stealing of the Catholic Faith from thousands of young people; millstones is the picture which presents itself to my mind.