Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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pp. viii-xii

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Introduction

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pp. 1-9

Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you. . . . Do not be afraid, Allah has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above women. According to both Christianity and Islam, the angel Gabriel delivered the above pronouncements to Mary, informing her that she would give birth to a son even though she was a virgin. Mary obeyed God’s will and bore ...

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One: Holy Women in Context

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pp. 11-26

Hagiographers certainly embellished Mary and Fatima’s roles in Christianity and Shi'ite Islam for rhetorical purpose. Throughout sacred texts these women perform various miracles such as healing the (pious) sick and punishing the (heretical) evildoers with righteous anger. Historians, on the other hand, have struggled to locate Mary and Fatima chronologically, ...

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Two: Holy Women in Holy Texts

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pp. 27-40

One of the most important goals of comparative religion is not simply to detail historical similarities and differences in religious systems but to discover new ways of understanding them.1 To that end scholars often as-sign categories or topical classifications to specific cultural elements, for example, ritual, myth, or mysticism.2 Hagiography and gender also serve ...

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Three: Virgins and Wombs

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pp. 41-66

In her work Purity and Danger, the anthropologist Mary Douglas explains that concerns for the physical body—its intactness, purity, and integrity—reflect concerns held by the body politic.1 Douglas sees purity and pollution rituals relating to the body as symbols for society and social boundaries. The Israelites’ halakhic (legal) preoccupation with ...

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Four: Mothers and Families

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pp. 67-98

In his work The Body and Society, Peter Brown poses this interpretive option for scholars of ancient texts: “Rather, they [the Apocryphal Acts] reflect the manner in which Christian males of that period partook in the deeply ingrained tendency of all men in the ancient world, to use women ‘to think with.’ ”1 Brown’s approach resembles Douglas’s notion ...

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FIve: Sacred Art and Architecture

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pp. 99-118

Early medieval Christians and Muslims created artistic images to illustrate their cosmologies and theologies in the social sphere. Much like hagiographers and theologians, artists and architects employed Mary and Fatima as symbols in their chosen space to depict constantly shifting theologies, political agendas, and gender expectations.1 Material ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 119-124

According to early medieval Christian and Shi`ite tradition, God chose Mary and Fatima as vessels for his sublime progeny. Mary, an obedient maiden, gave birth to the God-Man Jesus; Fatima, sharing in the divine nur, held the Imamate within her womb. The attention to two female figures did not stop with theological concerns; hagiographers also chose ...

Appendix: Genealogies

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pp. 125-128

Glossary

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pp. 129-132

Abbreviations

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pp. 133-134

Notes

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pp. 135-178

Bibliography

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pp. 179-200

Index

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pp. 201-208