Introduction to Mary
Mary is a complex figure to analyze historically because, though she is not the main focus in many parts of Scripture, her symbol and the ideals of purity, love, humility, and devotion that she represents have been venerated by groups of all kinds over time. The analysis of Mary by individuals with different backgrounds of knowledge and beliefs has resulted in many different interpretations throughout history. Mary has been interpreted as a handmaid of the Lord, a matriarch, an ideal disciple, the Mother of God, a virgin, and a prophet. The Virgin Mary has been understood through different means, such as Scripture and art, yet she is widely regarded as the ideal woman and mother, as well as an expression of human perfection.