Mary Through the Centuries: Her Place in the History of Culture

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Yale University Press, 1996 - Religion - 267 pages
The Virgin Mary has been an inspiration to more people than any other woman who ever lived. For Catholics, Protestants, Jews, and Muslims, for artists, musicians, and writers, and for women and men everywhere she has shown many faces and personified a variety of virtues. In this important book, a world-renowned scholar who is the author of numerous books--including the best-selling Jesus Through the Centuries--tells how Mary has been depicted and venerated through the ages.

Jaroslav Pelikan examines the biblical portrait of Mary, analyzing both the New and Old Testaments to see how the bits of information provided about her were expanded into a full-blown doctrine. He explores the view of Mary in late antiquity, where the differences between Mary, the mother of Christ, and Eve, the "mother of all living," provided positive and negative symbols of women. He discusses how the Eastern church commemorated Mary and how she was portrayed in the Holy Qur'an of Islam. He explains how the paradox of Mary as Virgin Mother shaped the paradoxical Catholic view of sexuality and how Reformation rejection of the worship of Mary allowed her to be a model of faith for Protestants. He considers also her role in political and social history. He analyzes the place of Mary in literature--from Dante, Spenser, and Milton to Wordsworth, George Eliot, and Goethe--as well as in music and art, and he describes the miraculous apparitions of Mary that have been experienced by the common people.

Was Mary human or divine? Should she be revered for her humility or her strength? What is her place in heaven? Whatever our answers to these questions, Mary remains a symbol of hope and solace, a woman, says Pelikan, for all seasons and all reasons.

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User Review  - davidpwithun - LibraryThing

A truly excellent introduction to the place of the Virgin Mary in the Christian Faith and the various ways she has been seen throughout history. Perhaps the most interesting parts of the book were ... Read full review

MARY THROUGH THE CENTURIES: Her Place in the History of Culture

User Review  - Kirkus

A disappointingly superficial treatment of the most revered female figure in the Western world. Pelikan, of Yale University, undoubtedly one of the outstanding scholars of Christian history, repeats a ... Read full review


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The Daughter of Zion and the Fulfillment of Prophecy
The Second Eve and the Guarantee of Christs True Humanity
The Theotokos the Mother of God
The Heroine of the Quran and the Black Madonna
The Handmaid of the Lord and the Woman of Valor
The Adornment of Worship and the Leader of the Heavenly Choir
The Paragon of Chastity and the Blessed Mother
The Mater Dolorosa and the Mediatrix
Her Assumption
The Woman for All SeasonsAnd All Reasons

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About the author (1996)

Jaroslav Pelikan is Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University. He has received honorary degrees from universities all over the world, as well as medals and awards from many scholarly societies and institutions, including the Jefferson Award of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the highest honor conferred by the U.S. government on a scholar in the humanities. He is currently president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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