Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Religion & Culture / Religious Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Michel Desjardins

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


The Protevangelium of James is an important early Christian text narrating the birth, childhood and adolescence of Mary, the mother of Jesus. This thesis explores Mary's transformation from a secondary New Testament figure into the embodiment of sacred purity. The image of Mary in the Protevangelium of James is different than other early Christian representations, emphasizing both purity and a recapitulation with Eve. As a means to better understand Mary's purity in the narrative, I explore the theories of three scholars: Jacob Neusner, Beverly Roberts Gaventa and Mary Douglas. I conclude that Douglas's theories make the most sense for comprehending Mary's purity in the Protevangelium of James. Applying Douglas's view of purity to the narrative, I establish that it is the author's religious construction of reality that creates an entirely new perspective of Mary. These conclusions are not only important for the study of Mary in early Christianity, but also for contemporary perceptions of Mary. This new representation of Mary promotes both equality for women and a brighter picture of humanity.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season