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Mary in Early Christian Faith and Devotion$
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Stephen J. Shoemaker

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780300217216

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300217216.001.0001

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A Virgin Unspotted

A Virgin Unspotted

Devotion to Mary in the First Two Centuries

Chapter:
(p.30) Chapter One A Virgin Unspotted
Source:
Mary in Early Christian Faith and Devotion
Author(s):

Stephen J. Shoemaker

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300217216.003.0001

This chapter examines the evidence of Marian piety from the first two Christian centuries. It begins with the New Testament, highlighting some perspectives on Mary’s role in the process of salvation from a number of writings of the second-century fathers. In particular, it discusses the Gospel of Luke, which offers the most developed reflection on Mary and her role in the beginnings of Christianity in the New Testament. It then considers early Christian apocrypha, and especially the Protevangelium of James, an early Christian biography of the young Virgin that attests to a surprisingly advanced piety centered on Mary’s ‘sacred purity’ and exceptional holiness already by the later second century. It shows that the Protevangelium’s Marian piety poses a puzzling anomaly that is difficult to relate not only to other elements of second-century Christianity but also to later developments in Marian devotion. The chapter also looks at other texts such as the Ascension of Isaiah and the Odes of Solomon.

Keywords:   sacred purity, Marian piety, New Testament, Mary, salvation, Gospel of Luke, Christianity, apocrypha, Protevangelium of James, Marian devotion

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