Love, Loss, and Abjection
The Journey of New Birth in the Gospel of John
Imprint: Pickwick Publications
"Melanie Baffes has undertaken this project to repair a matter of significant neglect on the part of the scholarly treatment of the Gospel of John. Her concern is with the lack of appreciation or notice of Mary of Bethany, her person, role in the Jesus narrative, and the symbolic value that her presence has in the story. . . . Baffes surprises the reader with the amazing amount of material she is able to generate out of the limited references to Mary in John's Gospel. She sees profound implications in each turn of phrase and linguistic element in the narrative. This book will challenge the community of Johannine scholars with its remarkably nuanced view of the character in the Jesus story that Baffes lifts as one of the chief of the disciples, and apparently the first one to really 'get' the point of Jesus's life and ministry."
--J. Harold Ellens, Director of the MCECS, University of Michigan, and Professor of Biblical Interpretation and Christian Spirituality, Ecumenical Theological Seminary of Detroit; author, The Son of Man in the Gospel of John (2010)
"Unfolding a transformative faith that arises from love and loss, Melanie Baffes journeys with Mary of Bethany and befriends Julia Kristeva, giving us a reading in which psychoanalytic theory and biblical narrative reveal the semiotic emergence of selfhood. Intriguing! A must-read for scholars of the Gospel of John, especially on the aesthetic relationship between 'abjection' and 'fully human' in biblical faith, communal discipleship, and interdisciplinary hermeneutics."
--K. K. Yeo, Kendall Chair of New Testament, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary; Affiliate Faculty, Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, Northwestern University
"Melanie Baffes approaches the often confusing and misunderstood figure of Mary of Bethany through the interpretive lens of psychology/psychoanalytic theory, analyzing Mary's transformation in part through the work of Julia Kristeva and the theory of the development of selfhood, along with the Johannine idea of 'being born from above.' This is an exciting new look at the book of John for all scholars, but even more for those who have searched for a new way to look at Mary of Bethany, not simply as a shadow figure behind Martha, but as a transformed figure brought to new life, fully alive in faith."
--Diane Capitani, Lecturer in Literature and Religion, Northwestern University; author of Truthful Pictures: Slavery Defended from Scripture in the Domestic Sentimental Novel of the 19th Century South (2009)