The iconoclastic and bestselling cartoonist of Paying for It: A comic-strip memoir about being a john and Louis Riel returns and with a polemical interpretation of the Bible that will be one of the most controversial and talked-about graphic novels of 2016. Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus is the retelling in comics form of nine biblical stories that present Chester Brown's fascinating and startling thesis about biblical representations of prostitution. Brown weaves a connecting line between Bathsheba, Ruth, Rahab, Tamar, Mary of Bethany, and the Virgin Mother. He reassesses the Christian moral code by examining the cultural implications of the Bible's representations of sex work.
Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus is a fitting follow-up to Brown's sui generis graphic memoir Paying for It, which was reviewed twice in The New York Times and hailed by sex workers for Brown's advocacy for the decriminalization and normalization of prostitution. Brown approaches the Bible as he did the life of Louis Riel, making these stories compellingly readable and utterly pertinent to a modern audience. In classic Chester Brown fashion, he provides extensive handwritten endnotes that delve into the biblical lore that informs Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus.
"Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus is a strange, effectively touching, and surprisingly rigorous exploration of prostitution as found in the Christian bible . . . The meticulously rendered stories, eleven in all, have a strange, disarming innocence about them. There are moments of truly felt compassion and generosity encoded in some of these panels. But the comics are really only half of the book. The second half, over a hundred pages, contains all of the notes from Brown’s research. I found it an absolutely fascinating look, not only into the academic research and religious texts that he cites, but into his own thinking, and his confirmation biases. The whole book feels more like a captured thought process, a research notebook, than a typical narrative or expositional work. That’s part of what makes this book so unique and interesting to me . . . I found Mary Wept extremely engaging and thought provoking. It is eccentric, ponderous, and beautifully rendered books like this that renew my faith in humanity."—Gareth Branwyn, Boing Boing
"This book of lay Biblical scholarship is simultaneously idiosyncratic, meticulous, imaginative and heretical. It's also deeply emotional . . . Mary Wept brims over with earnest faith and compassion . . . In the course of 270 pages he makes compelling cases for a whole gamut of unconventional claims. Regarding prostitution, he asserts that Mary, Jesus' mother, was a prostitute, that the early Christians practiced prostitution, and that stories like the Parable of the Talents were pro-prostitute. Equally absorbing is Brown's contention that the Bible lends itself to a 'mystical,' rather than legalistic, interpretation . . . The religious nature of Mary Wept is also reflected in its design. It's a very small hardcover that's easy to flip through—delightful, when you're dealing with endnotes — and cleverly evokes a pamphlet or tract."—Etelka Lehoczky, NPR
“The Bible is Chester Brown’s holy harlot. He plumbs the mysteries of her depths while she schools him in the ways of love. Like all of Chester’s work, Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus is confounding, yet addictive, instantly re-readable, and expands with revelations in his hundred pages of notes. A work of passion, research, and elegant clarity. My new favourite.”—Craig Thompson, author of Blankets and Habibi
“Chester Brown is both God’s and the devil’s gift to the world.”—David Henry Sterry, author of Hos, Hookers, Call Girls and Rent Boys
“Chester’s work never fails to surprise and delight me. Since I always enjoy mythic and legendary tales of harlots, I knew I would like Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus, but I was pleased and impressed by the way he used all these stories to illustrate a larger theme about humanity’s relationship to Divinity and the role my profession plays in that relationship. Chester shows that spirituality and sexuality, which are so often depicted in our culture as opposed to one another, are actually deeply intertwined.”—Maggie McNeill, author of The Honest Courtesan