Lola is our guide on this provocative article on Sin, Salvation, and the Menstrual Cycle in the Middle Ages. Just a few thoughts: Yikes! “What else is woman but a foe to friendship, an unescapable (sic) punishment, a necessary evil, a natural temptation, a desirable calamity, a domestic danger, a delectable detriment, an evil of nature, painted with fair colors….” The charge of being more carnal than men of course stems from that day in the garden of Eden. But what do you make of Gregory’s conceit that sin is committed in three ways? Again, this leads us back to the identification of women with nature (flesh) and men with mind and spirit (culture). How does the definition of menstruation intersect with Marian piety? Why does the stain threaten Mary’s Bodily Assumption into heaven? How do medieval theologians get around the fact that Mary lactates, and does so copiously at that? How do medieval exegetical writers get around the fact that Mary is in a sense the last in a line of female fertility goddesses? What is the Dominican position on Mary’s physiology? How does Albertus Magnus reconcile Aristotle’s conclusions about the lifespan of men and women with the contradictory data culled from the 13th century? How does the Virgin unwittingly become a source of misogyny? Does the Virgin ultimately save the female day? Confession: If I couldn’t be a medieval art historian or a bard in ancient Greece, I would love to be and Early Christian Church Father, shaping exegetical thought for the theologians of the future ….Onward!
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