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Mary and the Fathers of the Church: The Blessed Virgin Mary in Patristic Thought Paperback – September 25, 2006


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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Italian
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 450 pages
  • Publisher: Ignatius Press (September 25, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0898706866
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898706864
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #310,003 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 73 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
I purchased this book a year or so ago and while reading it, made copious notes and cross-references throughout and what did I do with the book? Left it on an airplane. Just my luck.
Anyway, this is an incredible book. Fr. Gambero demonstrates over and over again that the early church fathers clearly taught the idea of Mary as "Theotokos" (or "Mother of God"), and Mary as the New Eve. They also sought Mary's intercession, a thought anathema to most Protestants, and they took for granted that she was a perpetual virgin (from the earliest they rejected as heretical the idea of "Jesus's brothers" being sons and daughters of Mary).
Over and over we see great teachers of the early church espousing uniquely Catholic (and Orthodox) doctrine. Cardinal Newman said a century ago that to be deep in history is to cease to be a protestant. This book demonstrates how true those words are. You will find no 20th Century American Evangelicalism pervading the writings of the Fathers. These men were Catholic.
If you are an openminded non-Catholic and are interested in learning what the historic Christian interpretation of Mary really is, you cannot afford to miss this book.
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book will clearly destroy any arguments from those who would think that the Catholic Church "invented" her teachings on Mary, and that the early Christians never taught or believed such things. This book starts from the founding of the Church and cites the writings of the earliest Christians and clearly shows how these early Christians WERE Catholics and everything they taught and believed about Mary is what the Catholic Church has always taught, teaches today, and will always teach. Sources cover the 1st century through the 8th century, and how devotion to Mary was something always practised in the Church--not a 4th Cent "invention". If you criticize the Catholic Church's teachings on Mary, then you owe it to yourself to be fair and open minded and read this book! You will clearly see how the early Christians had no problem with this devotion.
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51 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Shawn Tzu on April 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
...for anyone who is interested in learning about the manner in which theology surrounding the Virgin Mary developed in the Church from the earliest of times.
This book covers the first 8 centuries of the Church which are generally referred to as 'The Patristic Period'. The importance of this work is it is a textbook example of the concept of development of doctrine. In this aspect alone it is valuable but it also aids in dealing with a subject (Mary) that is often so problematical for those our Protestant brethren whose faith paradigms are so far afield from Christianity as understood by those closest to the Apostles. Fr. Gambero's work highlights Newman's dictum of history being fatal to Protestantism well including pointing out the all-important Christological underpinnings of almost all Marian doctrines (including the pivotal core doctrine from which all Marian developments spring from: The role of the 'Second Eve').
To not confuse the reader, development is not understood in the sense of evolution (at least not of the Darwinian sense) where a teaching develops outside the body of beliefs (this is properly termed a 'corruption'). No, development is (to quote St. Vincent of Lerens - one of Newman's primary Patristic influences):
"The growth of religion in the soul must be analogous to the growth of the body, which, though in process of years it is developed and attains its full size, yet remains still the same. There is a wide difference between the flower of youth and the maturity of age; yet they who were once young are still the same now that they have become old, insomuch that though the stature and outward form of the individual are changed, yet his nature is one and the same, his person is one and the same.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Stratiotes Doxha Theon VINE VOICE on January 10, 2008
Format: Paperback
The doctrines of Mary are, in effect, doctrines of Christ. And for that reason, one cannot be challenged without weakening the other. For instance, when Pelagius offered Mary as an example of the strength of the human will to obey God, St. Augustine responded by offering that Mary was given a special grace that kept her from sin, thus hinting at the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. When the Arians and Manichees attacked the dual nature of Christ as the God-Man, the early fathers gathered at Ephesus and declared Mary with the title Theotokos (Mother of God) as a reminder that Jesus was fully God when he became fully man in the Virgin's womb. However, it is clear that the term Theotokos was already in popular use for many centuries prior to the council of Ephesus declaring it as a test of orthodoxy.

With simple logic the early church could deduce that in order for Jesus to be born, Mary said `yes' to the Holy Spirit's work making her an indispensable part of the redemption story. And, when confronted with the question of how a sinless Christ could be born without the tarnish of original sin, the Immaculate Conception of Mary was further inferred.

Following that reason and Paul's reasoning of Jesus as the second Adam, the early fathers began to speak of Mary as the second Eve. Just as the first Eve led the first Adam to sin, so the second Eve led the second Adam to obedience. Mary redeemed the role of women and canceled the disobedience of Eve. Just as Eve was the mother of all the dead in sin, so Mary has become the mother of the living in Christ. The book of revelation follows this reasoning well in verses 11:19-12:17, drawing the parallel of Mary to the Ark as the bearer of the Word of God and identifying all Christians as children of Mary.
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