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The Orthodox Veneration of Mary The Birthgiver of God Paperback – 1994

4.3 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Having experienced all the difficulties of earthly life, the Intercessor of the Christian race sees every tear, hears every groan and entreaty directed to Her. Especially near to Her are those who labor in the battle with the passions and are zealous for a God-pleasing life. But even in worldly cares She is an irreplaceable helper.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 88 pages
  • Publisher: Saint Herman of Alaska Brotherhood; 4th edition (1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0938635689
  • ISBN-13: 978-0938635680
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #889,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
If anyone has read any of my previous reviews they are probably a little perplexed over the high rating I gave this book, especially after I was so critical in my reviews of Scott Hahn's book, Hail, Holy Queen, and Fulton Sheen's book, the World's First Love. The reason why I have given this book a higher rating is because I actually agree with much that was said, and I believe the Orthodox have avoided the extreme elevation that many Catholics have granted to Mary. That being said, I would like to analyze the arguments presented in this book and state why I believed many of them were valid. First, many of the arguments presented in this book aimed at defending the Theotokos are arguments that evolved very early in Church history. In fact, many of the things discussed in this book, Mary's perpetual virginity, and her definition as the Theotokos were doctrines that were readily accepted by the Reformers. Therefore, many of the things argued for in this book are not alien to Protestant teaching, but were in fact inherent in Protestant teaching and weren't eschewed until centuries later. I believe that the arguments made in this book that Mary was a perpetual virgin and that Jesus' brothers were step-brothers from a previous marriage of Joseph is not only a substantive argument, but makes sense of the Scriptural data provided.
Second, I believe that the idea that Mary is the Theotokos is not only valid but is also a valid development obtained from Scripture. The problem with most arises when this term is translated into the Mother of God which is a loose translation, but is more accurately rendered as she who gave birth to God. The Orthodox regularly refer to Mary by her title Theotokos, and only usually translate it as Mother of God for convenience in dialogue with Western Christians.
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Format: Paperback
Author: St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco (St. John Maximovitch), of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. Preface by Father Seraphim Rose (d. 1982), noted American Orthodox monastic and theologian.

Topic: The proper veneration of the Blessed Mary from the Eastern Orthodox perspective.

When St. John died in 1966, he little imagined that this work would be resurrected. It had originally been published in a Serbian church journal in the 1930's. It is a short exposition, grounded in Holy Scripture, Patristics, and Orthodox liturgy (including Vespers and Akathists).

St. John does an amazing amout of theological exposition in this short essay. He explains from church history and the sources noted, the role always accorded the Theotokos in Christianity. This includes her full humanity, the fact that she was ever-virgin but not immaculately conceived herself, and that she led an exemplary life. St. John does this in no uncertain terms and with a clean simplicity of faith rather than speculation, legalism, or theorizing.

In so doing, he presents the Orthodox refutation of the Protestant failure to give Mary the veneration scripture commands (Luke: "for, behold, from henceforth ALL generations shall call me Blessed"). He also refutes the Roman church's over-veneration to the point of adoration, semi-deification, and raising Mary to an incarnation of a hypostasis of Trinity and co-redemptrix.

In the latter, St. John does a wonderful job of pointing out how, in misplaced love, humans in the Roman church may have actually lessened Mary's stature by attempting to ascribe unto her gifts beyond those given by God.
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Format: Paperback
I read this book in one sitting and really enjoyed it. It's a collection of immensely readable essays on Mary that anyone with an interest in religion will enjoy - regardless of your faith. An added bonus is the collection of icons and art that is used to illustrate this great little book.
This protestant came away from my hour of reading this book with a much greater love of the Mother of Jesus, and recommend it to anyone who wants to grow in their faith.
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Format: Paperback
THE ORTHODOX VENERATION OF MARY THE BIRTHGIVER OF GOD by Archbishop John Maximovitch, later canonized Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco by elements of the Russian Orthodox Church, is a short pamphlet. Seraphim Rose translated it as the first of a series of archbishop's writings in English.

The book is not a work of Orthodox apologetics directed towards Protestants searching for a solid basis for veneration of the Theotokos, as one might think. It is meant for Orthodox Christians to encourage them to more sincerely venerate the Theotokos and to guard against heresies involving her. The book consists of three main parts. The first is an account of attempts made against her veneration by heresiarchs from her dormition through the Jewish slander of her relationship with a Roman soldier, and finally on to the Nestorian and iconoclast heresies which were defeated by the Ecumenical Councils. The second part is a refutation of the Roman Catholic doctrine of the "immaculate conception", where Archbishop Maximovitch shows that in their zeal to praise the Theotokos, they really strip her of her saintly qualities. Finally, the last part summarizes all of Orthodoxy's hagiographical teachings on the life of the Theotokos.

While most of the book seems sound Orthodox theology and will better equip Orthodox Christians to respond to Protestant criticisms and Latin innovations, I was uncomfortable with a reference to the "aerial toll house" concept, where the soul is beset by demons after death and can only make it through by the grace of God. Most Orthodox consider this a gnostic heresy, and it derives from old Slavic schismatics. While I do think highly of much of the material in the book, I would only recommend it to people aware of the controversy of Rose's views on the soul after death.
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