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Mother of the Lamb: The Story of a Global Icon Hardcover – October 4, 2022

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Editorial Reviews


"Matthew Milliner's Mother of the Lamb: The Story of a Global Icon is a book of remarkable scholarship combined with deep humanity. The story of the pervasive influence of a single, poignant icon of Mary and Christ--first painted in the hills of Cyprus in the last days of the Crusades and the sad twilight of Byzantium, then copied throughout the world--opens the mind and the heart to a long-neglected chapter in the history of the Christian imagination. It challenges the reader to give thought to what its serene, sad lines and gracious posture might yet have to say to our own times." --Peter Brown, professor emeritus, department of history, Princeton University

"Byzantine icons, fruit of Byzantium's distinctive material theology, exert an unexpected claim on our attention now. Matthew Milliner explores the vast, evolving afterlife of one great icon, variously known as the Virgin of the Passion or Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Welding the events of a passionate and violent era to his own passionate response to the icon, Milliner roots the image in the circumstances of its earliest surviving rendition: a fresco of consummate artistry painted on the island of Cyprus in the immediate wake of its Crusader conquest. Wrenched forever from its parent culture of Byzantium, an empire triumphant for centuries under the aegis of a conquering Mary, Cyprus saw the birth of a new image of Mary. Here a half a millennium's ardent Marian veneration, expressed in Byzantium's radiant theology of liturgical worship and holy imagery, was distilled into a new image of Mary for a coming half-millennium of inexorable imperial decline. It is an image of sustained and compassionate sorrow. Milliner unfolds the image's many theological dimensions--Trinitarian, sacramental, ecclesiological, and emotional--and then traces the paths by which it traveled from a small Mediterranean island on the verge of an encroaching Islam to the heart first of Orthodoxy and then of Roman Catholicism, and from there into the hearts of people literally across the entire globe. The book's early chapters vivid with evocations of Byzantium's luminous and beautiful forms of worship give way by the end to earnest inquiries about this image's message for issues of contemporary faith: social justice, political violence, ecumenism, the role of women in a faith system that revolves around a figure like Mary. The book is written with energy and clear theological conviction, and it reveals how simple and yet how deeply complex a creation like the Virgin of the Passion is. Readers must not slight the endnotes. They are dense with interest." --Annemarie Weyl Carr, university distinguished professor of art history emerita, Southern Methodist University

"Abounding with vivid detail and told with unerring dramatic flair, Matt Milliner's new book traces the evolution of one of Christianity's central motifs--the Virgin and Child--as it evolved across the Eastern Mediterranean from the eleventh to the fifteenth century. We have a front-row seat as Milliner takes us through the many dramatic twists and turns in Byzantine icon theology and practice and its tangled political and ecclesial background. Mother of the Lamb is an absorbing and compelling story unfolded by an immensely gifted art-historian and storyteller." --Thomas Pfau, professor of English and professor of German, Duke Divinity School

"This captivating book invites readers on a spiritual adventure. Starting from his own first encounter as a young scholar, the author introduces us to a special icon: the Virgin of the Passion. This extraordinary image witnessed both the glory and the downfall of an empire, providing both protection and succor. As her story unfolds, we understand her unparalleled power to humble the proud, to encourage the meek, and to console the defeated." --Robin M. Jensen, Patrick O'Brien Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame

About the Author

Matthew J. Milliner holds an MA and a PhD in art history from Princeton University, and an MDiv from Princeton Theological Seminary. He is associate professor of art history at Wheaton College.

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Fortress Press (October 4, 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 298 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1506478751
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1506478753
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 11.2 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.5 x 1.25 x 9.5 inches

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