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The Ancient Traditions of the Virgin Mary's Dormition and Assumption (Oxford Early Christian Studies) Paperback – December 28, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0199210749 ISBN-10: 0199210748

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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford Early Christian Studies
  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (December 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199210748
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199210749
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 1 x 5.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,476,930 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


`Review from previous edition What is truly striking about this book is its meticulous and thorough research. Specialists in the Dormition materials and Marian devotion will henceforward meed to take into account Shoemaker's claims. Likewise, students and scholars of early Christianity will welcome the translations he provides in the appendices.' Church History

`impressive ... both rich and illuminating: it offers many new insights on the development of legends surrounding the departure of the Mother of God from earthly life and her sojourn in paradise thereafter ... a valuable contribution to the field. Shoemaker treats both primary and secondary sources comprehensively and skilfully, adding critical and imaginative insights to the work which has been done in the field.' Sobornost

`the book's extensive bibliography is impressive ... The thesis is meticulously referenced with full and detailed footnotes ... Shoemaker's scholarship in this area will make his a name to reckon with in the future.' Journal of Theological Studies

`learned survey of the literary, archaeological, and liturgical sources for early traditions of the Dormition.' Bryn Mawr Classical Review

`...essential for the study of Mary in early Christianity.' Journal of the American Academy of Religion

About the Author

Stephen J. Shoemaker is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, University of Oregon.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By JordanJasper on December 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
Shoemaker's book represents a crucial culmination and new bench mark in the study of the ancient Dormition/Assumption traditions for myriad reasons.

For one, Shoemaker quite convincingly exposes and refutes some of the fundamental flaws of very noble prior studies on this issue: Cothenet; Mimouni; Jugie; etc. Shoemaker also brings the convincing (yet less cohesive) works of Wenger and van Esbroeck to fruition by creating a work that effectively delineates and characterizes the diverse origins of the ancient Christian traditions about Mary's fate in one pertinent volume.

As the author himself notes in the preface (and reiterates throughout the book), he felt compelled to write a volume establishing these origins with some reasonable measure of clarity before tackling his chief goal: a work exploring the cultural and social impact of these traditions in late antiquity, particularly for Byzantine Christians. It is imperative that he finish this work.

The book is quite user-friendly to scholarly readers, even those not terribly familiar with the topic; Shoemaker's wise inclusion of several translations of the early narratives helps facilitate this.

Of particular note is his divergence from the contentions of Danielou, Bagatti, Testa, etc. that the earliest dormition trads emerged within some hypothetical Jewish-Christian milieu. Shoemaker has blown that theory out of the water for good, I'd say. His own conclusion--that the Book of Rest trad, for example, emerged in what was probably some 3rd-century Christian backwater-community tinged with both Gnostic and proto-Orthodox brushstrokes, is far more convincing, but could have been more fully elaborated.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Marie Farrell on November 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This volume is a most worthwhile compendium of traditions - apocryphal, cultic and pre-historical - concerning the apotheosis of the Virgin Mary. It is the fruit of meticulous scholarship that is well served by the inclusion of select translations of ancient Dormition narratives and figures illustrating various traditions and indicating marian shrines celebrating the theosis of the Virgin. The extensive bibliography citing primary and secondary sources makes the work invaluable for doctoral studies in marian theology.
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