Kennesaw State scholars to discuss the Virgin Mary and Lilith

An upcoming Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters program will feature two Kennesaw State University scholars.

Aria Fiore, who produced the program, “AIB Presents: Feminine Representations of the Divine,” said she wanted a “fresh perspective” when she reached out to the scholars.

Laura Dabundo, a professor of English and interdisciplinary studies, will discuss the Virgin Mary. Although Mary is mentioned only a few times in the Bible she appears at crucial points in Jesus’ ministry, said Dabundo, who is also the coordinator of the Religious Studies Program at Kennesaw State. Mary is also the woman who is mentioned most frequently in the Quran, she said.

“Mary was singled out at a time when most women were not,” Dabundo said. “She is present at the first miracle and at the Crucifixion, when most of the apostles have fled. She shows great faithfulness. Luke shows her thinking about things. She has been endlessly fascinating for thousands of years.”

Yvonne Wichman, an English instructor, will discuss Lilith, a demon figure from Jewish folklore who goes back thousands of years to the ancient Sumerian and Babylonian cultures. She appears in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Ancient traditions have her as Adam’s first wife, who refused to be subservient to man. Depictions of her appear in art through the ages, from stone carvings to the Sistine Chapel and into our modern culture.  

“I look at her as the original feminist,” said Wichman, who discovered Lilith while an undergraduate. “She is a feisty, independent female spirit. Some artists depict her as the serpent in the tree in the Garden of Eden. A relief in Notre Dame Cathedral depicts her as a serpent with a woman’s head.”

Jeffrey S. Lidke, an associate professor of religion and philosophy at Berry College, will also be on the program discussing the goddess Devi, who is at the core of every Hindu goddess.

The program will be broadcast on  March 18 at 7 p.m. on Comcast channel 5 and AT&T U-Verse channel 6. It will be rebroadcast on: March 19 at 12 p.m.; March 21 at 9 a.m.; and March 23 at 12:30 p.m. There will be a livestream on http://www.aibtv.com/aibeverywhere. It will be available online for a limited time.

Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters was founded in 1969 as nonprofit organization to promote dialogue among those of different faiths, socioeconomic backgrounds and cultures.