Picturing Mary: History’s Best-Known Jewish Woman

Carpaccio

Vittore Carpaccio. “Marriage of the Virgin.” c 1502–05. Pinacoteca di Brera/National Museum of Women in the Arts


An exhibit about the Virgin Mary, which is curated by a Florentine priest, makes the case that the mother of Jesus must be understood, at least in part, as a Jewish woman.

That the Christian messiah’s mother was born in a Jewish home is one of several seeming contradictions with which the Gospel of James wrestles, wrote Miri Rubin, a history professor at London’s Queen Mary University, in the “Picturing Mary: Woman, Mother, Idea” exhibit catalog.

Speaking at a press preview of the exhibit, on view at the National Museum of Women in the Arts until April 12, curator, Msgnr. Timothy Verdon, a priest and director of Florence’s Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, reminded reporters that Mary is also relevant to Jews and Muslims. (“If anything,” he said, Mary has “a more fascinating place in the Koran than her son does.”)

“Mary is, after all, a daughter of her people,” he said. “The way the Christian gospels describe her, she is the fullness of all that the Jewish scriptures propose as significant and courageous and noble in womanhood.”

Picturing Mary: History’s Best-Known Jewish Woman” appears in the Jewish Daily Forward.

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