Since time immemorial women have been cast into two opposite categories - either the 'Madonna', respectable wife, mother, daughter, sister, or the off-limits mistress, vamp, or common whore. This book traces the so-called Madonna/whore syndrome from its roots in the Judeo-Christian tradition to the present day. Drawing on works of art, literature, and the theater, we find that every age recreates the two principle feminine archetypes in its own image. As mirror images of the ways in which society views and treats women, they remain deeply buried within our collective unconscious, shaping men's perceptions of women and women's perception of self. Neither a feminist nor a religious polemic per se, this book considers several especially timely issues. Jesus' strikingly liberal stance on women, their active role in the Jesus movement and early Church pertains to the current debates on the ordination of women. Similarly, the discussion of Jesus' position on sexuality, marriage, celibacy is especially pertinent to the critical debate about celibacy and the priesthood today. Ultimately, however, by stripping away layers of mythology and restoring the 'two Marys' to their original vital roles - wife, mother, lover, creator, nurturer, scholar, teacher - they become complementary rather than separate categories, a holistic view not only of woman, but of our universal and fundamental humanity.