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Tuesday, 12 April 2016

New D+Q: Chester Brown's Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus

Well today is an exciting day - new Chester Brown hits the shelves! In Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus, Brown revisits the subject matter of his previous D+Q title, Paying For It, insofar as both books discuss sex work. However, rather than being a continuation of the personal account of the author's own experiences paying for sex, Mary Wept is compiled of biblical tales that present sex work in a positive light.

Adapting several such stories from the Book of Matthew, including those of Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba, Brown posits this as evidence that Mary, mother of Jesus, was also engaged in sex work.

It's uncustomary for women to be mentioned in biblical genealogies, so their inclusion, according to Brown's interpretation, is purposeful.

Brown theorizes that if Matthew could show that several other women in Jesus' genealogy were working as prostitutes, then it would be easier to imply that Mary was as well.

By crafting this message subtly rather than stating it outright, Matthew could evade censorship and hope that readers would understand the underlying conclusion.

Certainly a non-traditional take on these stories, Brown backs up his claims with extensive footnotes detailing the research he undertook in creating the book, and citing sources that support his reading of these stories. Brown's pro-sex work interpretation of the Bible may be an unconventional one, but Biblical texts have long been interpreted in different ways according to the personal beliefs of the interpreter, and used to justify various agendas. It's refreshing to see them presented in a new way that respects sex workers.

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