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The New Testament is comprised of four Gospels by different authors, one prophetic book, and numerous letters by various authors. Women occur in many different roles in the New Testament. Perhaps the most important woman is the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, who appears in English (and European) literature an art as an ideal of motherhood, an innocent and humble young woman who displays a certain ideal of femininity. Mary Magdalene, the prostitute who gives up her trade to follow Jesus, is often portrayed in English literature as the archetype of a fallen woman who is redeemed. Mentions of important female leaders in the early Christian community and "deaconesses" in the Pauline letters are used in English literary texts as models for women being active in charitable and other roles in the church.
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