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GraduateTheology: : St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 50.1

Paul Ladouceur, “Old Testament Prefigurations of the Mother of God,” St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly, 50:1-2 (2006): 5-57.

In this article, Paul Ladouceur reviews the Old Testament references to the Mother of God in the four major Marian feasts of the Orthodox Church. He explains the way these references function in Marian theology (for instance, analogies between Mary as the ark, fleece, lamp, ladder, sea monster, etc.) and follows with some commentary on these passages by Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Origen, Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, and John Chrysostom. For the non-Orthodox, this article offers an insightful glimpse into patristic exegesis, especially for comparing multiple figures' treatments of the same passage (in that respect, it is a little like the project Professor Burns is working on right now).

Stephen J. Shoemaker, “Death and the Maiden: The Early History of the Dormition and Assumption Apocrypha,” St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly, 50:1-2 (2006): 59-97.

Shoemaker’s article reads like an article from a biblical scholar, but in this case, instead of comparing one synoptic Gospel to another, he traces the history of New Testament apocrypha with respect to the Dormition of Mary. These texts, he argues, demonstrate the existence both of early Marian devotion and a rich extrabiblical tradition (that was later repressed as the limits of orthodoxy were narrowed). He takes issue with scholars who have attempted to discover a shared source in what little these different accounts hold in common. He argues instead for their diverse, early, and independent origins. The reader of this article runs the risk of getting bogged down in the debates over the authenticity and origins of various manuscripts, but the article itself offers a useful glimpse into the early extrabiblical traditions of Christianity (that were later taken up and “canonized” in liturgy).

C. Clark Carlton, “‘The Temple that Held God’: Byzantine Marian Hymnography and the Christ of Nestorius,” St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly, 50:1-2 (2006): 99-125.

Carlton looks at Christology from the perspective of Marian theology, focusing on Byzantine hymnography, and for the sake of space, confining himself to the feast of “The Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple.” This is not an arbitrary selection. The comparisons between Mary and the temple were what first troubled Nestorius, who had no problem saying that Mary housed the flesh of the Lord, but objected when Proclus of Cyzicus (whose sermon first gave rise to the controversy) compared Mary to the Temple in such a way that made her the bearer of Christ's divinity. Thus, Nestorius felt that Proclus attributed birth, growth, and death to the Logos, and the role of Christ's humanity in the divine economy had been ascribed to Mary. Carlton reaches the interesting conclusion that Nestorius’ response to Proclus calls into question the old stereotype that Antioch is somehow more concerned with the “human dimension” of Christ than the divine (but this may only be looking at the same phenomenon from its backside).

Mary B. Cunningham, “‘All-Holy Infant’: Byzantine and Western Views on the Conception of the Virgin Mary,” St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly, 50:1-2 (2006): 127-48.

This article focuses mostly on the development of Marian theology in the East, mentioning the West only in juxtaposition. Despite some similarities between Marian theology in both traditions, they part significantly over the Immaculate Conception. The chief reason for this difference has to do with the western notion of original sin. The East does not share the Augustinian position that all acts of intercourse are “tainted by sin.” Therefore, the Orthodox tradition was able to hold to Mary’s holiness and purity without needing to credit this to special circumstances surrounding her birth.

Nonna (Verna Harrison), “The Entry of the Mother of God into the Temple,” St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly, 50:1-2 (2006): 149-60.

Nonna’s article reads like a sermon with a bit of scholarly fact added in. She makes an interesting, but all too fleeting, comparison between the feasts of the Church and the mythical reenactments of primordial events by “indigenous cultures.” The difference for the Church is that the reenactments of these events do not depart from history but focus upon the sanctification of history that takes place at its “mid-point.” God’s “new acts” in the center recall creation of the present age and anticipate its eschatological conclusion. The rest of the article consists of a typological reflection comparing the various images of the Temple in the Scripture to Mary, and Mary to the Temple of the Church as the people of God today.

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