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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seminal Contribution to Marian/Byzantine Studies
Stephen Shoemaker is not, by any means, a mariologist in the mold of, say, Sarah Jane Boss, but he is a Marian historian of exceeding skill and insight. Some of the best Marian historical work, currently, is being done by Shoemaker, and it is being done with astonishing results. I mean, you know the guy is making some serious headway when his latest discoveries make his...
Published on June 11, 2012 by JordanJasper

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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Insightful in the origins of the Marian traditions
Very useful in understanding the origins of the Marian traditions in the Church. Not as spiritual as the early writings of the Church but does sown the evolution of the Church albeit from voices well removed from the first centuries.
Published 2 months ago by Samuel D. Fink


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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seminal Contribution to Marian/Byzantine Studies, June 11, 2012
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Stephen Shoemaker is not, by any means, a mariologist in the mold of, say, Sarah Jane Boss, but he is a Marian historian of exceeding skill and insight. Some of the best Marian historical work, currently, is being done by Shoemaker, and it is being done with astonishing results. I mean, you know the guy is making some serious headway when his latest discoveries make his previous discoveries almost obsolete within a decade (his ground-breaking 'Ancient Traditions of the Virgin Mary's Dormition and Assumption' being a case in point).

Anyhow, his analyses of the Byzantine origins of the Mary-cult are not to be missed, and this new work really delivers. The obvious achievement, here, is the fact that we have an accessible English translation of the late ancient work, at last. There is a poignant scholarly side to this offering: Shoemaker is carrying on the pioneering work of Van Esbroeck, who died a bit unexpectedly before actualizing the considerable scope of his work on the Maximus 'Life of the Virgin'.

Shoemaker renders apologies ahead of time for any possible defects in his translation, but it is not going out on a limb to trust his diligence, here. What we are presented with is a panoramic "full bio" of Mary from the ancient 7th century church, and there is no doubt that this one was compiled utilizing even more archaic sources/traditions about the "Big V".

The stunner, of course, is that Shoemaker makes an ironclad case for the 7th century dating of this 'Life' and its Mariology is tantalizingly "high" and complex for such an early date. Shoemaker has been forcing some big-hitters in Byzantine mariological studies to frankly go back to the drawing-board, as it were, and this publication throws down the latest gauntlet.

It is a considerable gauntlet: scholars who have hitherto denied or altogether ignored the attribution of this amazing work to Maximus are frankly going to have to confront the issue, now. I don't see how the matter could be avoided, after this. Shoemaker's case is, as usual, compelling and remarkably undergirded. This work (whoever wrote it--and Shoemaker is careful to point this out) gives brow-raising evidence of a rather developed Marian theology (at least in Constantinople and its environs, but DUH--there was already a widespread Marian veneration in almost all the provinces) at an early juncture.

Of note, this work places extraordinary emphasis upon Mary's compassionate presence at the crucifixion, and also upon her very active participation in Christ's public ministry, beyond the insinuations offered by the "canonical" accounts. Shoemaker is now forcing scholars to reconsider the antiquity of the "Mary Suffered, Too!" piety that was so entrenched in the medieval and late-medieval religious consciousness. He does a bang-up job in making his case for that; the book's preface is outstanding.

Another amazing thing about the work is its portrayal of Mary as a "power player" in the public ministry of Christ, and the early days of the "church" in Jerusalem. The canonical works offer tantalizing hints about the importance of Jesus' family (often by polemic against them, which shows you they were important players!), but the traditions of Mary's leadership in this 'Life' are quite developed. It would seem that these traditions were not all mere extrapolations upon the canonical accounts, but possibly vestiges (or continuations) of some bedrock ancient traditions of Mary's actual matriarchal role in the nascent Christian movement. Shoemaker does not delve into this, unfortunately, and in some ways dismisses the possibility of Mary's leadership by invoking (rather vaguely) the "likelihoods" based upon the historical-critical method of Biblical criticism, which is lovely, but we all know how that "method" can be manipulated to arrive at any number of prevalent conclusions, according to one's desire.

But Shoemaker is not as adept when it comes to first or second century Christian history as he is with late antique Byzantine. For my money, he owns that territory. This book is an obvious "must have" for any church historian's library, or for anyone interested in Mary's impact in the ancient church. Researched and end-noted to the hilt, and the preface is written in Shoemaker's clinical but compelling (and occasionally quite witty) style. The translation of the 'Life' itself (trusting him, here) comes off as breathtaking in many respects.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, May 15, 2014
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This review is from: The Life of the Virgin: Maximus the Confessor (Kindle Edition)
Amazing book, the way Maximus uses words to describe God and Mary are something I have never read before, simply wonderful book hard to put down once you start reading it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Book, March 11, 2014
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This review is from: The Life of the Virgin: Maximus the Confessor (Kindle Edition)
This book is a rare treasure and gift into the hidden mysteries of Our Lady. None of the writings of this book goes against the Gospels of Jesus Christ. I encourage those who have the love of our Lady in their hearts to venture deeper into the mysteries of the Virgin Mary.
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5.0 out of 5 stars What you didn't know about St Mary, Mother of Jesus., July 11, 2014
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Unless the sands of Egypt deliver us an as yet unknown papyrus document concerning the Virgin Mary, this book is the nearest we are going to have to a full biography of St Mary, Mother of Jesus. It is written in a florid classical style and closely follows the Scriptures, complete with modern reference details.
In addition, it is a beautiful, deeply devotional work, full of love for the subject, and intense, insightful exegesis of the scriptural and other texts and traditions which were current in early 7th century Orthodox Christianity, all of which gives a surprisingly detailed picture of St Mary's life from her Immaculate Conception to her Dormition. A strikingly modern feature of this biography is the portrayal of St Mary as being very actively involved in Jesus' Mission, where she managed and guided the women who followed and supported Jesus; and after his Ascension, she is shown to have been a keystone of the early Church, guiding and directing the Apostles in their missions from a house she shared with St John in Jerusalem. At one point, she set out with St John to evangelise in Ephesus, but received a divine command to return and lead the believers, directing the Church in Jerusalem with James the Less, first Bishop of Jerusalem.
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9 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important Addition to an Orthodox Christian Library, July 26, 2012
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This life by St. Maximus is written in the same prayerful manner and is an excellent companion book to the life of the Holy Virgin written by the Holy Apostles Convent; especially since it appears that the Holy Apostles Convent did not have St. Maximus' account available to them.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Go Maximus!, March 2, 2014
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This review is from: The Life of the Virgin: Maximus the Confessor (Kindle Edition)
Maximus wrote a great book on how and why the Blessed Mother is important to Christians. It was even better when our pastor explained it to us, as translations can be a bit puzzling. Apparently he also influenced Augustine.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Insightful in the origins of the Marian traditions, May 19, 2014
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This review is from: The Life of the Virgin: Maximus the Confessor (Kindle Edition)
Very useful in understanding the origins of the Marian traditions in the Church. Not as spiritual as the early writings of the Church but does sown the evolution of the Church albeit from voices well removed from the first centuries.
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The Life of the Virgin: Maximus the Confessor
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