Gathering fresh information from such neglected sources as early liturgical texts and Dormition and Assumption apocrypha, Shoemaker believes that Marian devotion played a far larger role in early Christian belief and practice than previously was recognized. He uncovers unmistakable evidence dating back to the last half of the second century. 320 pages, hardcover. Yale University.
For the first time a noted historian of Christianity explores the full story of the emergence and development of the Marian cult in the early Christian centuries. The means by which Mary, mother of Jesus, came to prominence have long remained strangely overlooked despite, or perhaps because of, her centrality in Christian devotion. Gathering together fresh information from often neglected sources, including early liturgical texts and Dormition and Assumption apocrypha, Stephen Shoemaker reveals that Marian devotion played a far more vital role in the development of early Christian belief and practice than has been previously recognized, finding evidence that dates back to the latter half of the second century. Through extensive research, the author is able to provide a fascinating background to the hitherto inexplicable "explosion" of Marian devotion that historians and theologians have pondered for decades, offering a wide-ranging study that challenges many conventional beliefs surrounding the subject of Mary, Mother of God.
Stephen J. Shoemaker is professor of religious studies at the University of Oregon, specializing in the history of Christianity and the beginnings of Islam. He lives in Eugene, OR.
"Medieval Europe is a remarkably detailed and readable book, and, at only 250 pages in length it is, unlike the Middle Ages, both brief and clear."Dominic Green, Minerva
"Mary in Early Christian Faith and Devotion is almost the only recent attempt at any¬thing like a comprehensive study of the development of the cult of the Virgin in late antiquity. . . . [Shoemaker] brings together more than twenty years of studies . . . to argue for a new version of how Mary emerged in these early centuries as a focus for Christian devotion."Rachel Fulton Brown, First Things