Thursday, 5 February 2015

Mary B. Cunningham: Patristic Theology and Apocryphal Narratives in Byzantine Devotion to Mary, the Mother of God (Sixth to Twelfth Centuries)

This workshop, to be held in three sessions, will explore the reception and reshaping of patristic themes concerning the Virgin Mary in the Byzantine theological and liturgical tradition between the sixth and twelfth centuries. The first session of the workshop will deal with hymnography between the sixth and ninth centuries, starting with the imaginative contribution of Romanos the Melodist and including later Byzantine kanons. The second session will examine the homilies associated with the Marian feasts that were being introduced into the liturgical calendar between the sixth and eighth centuries. In the third and final session, our attention will turn to a corpus of largely unstudied hagiographical and homiletic texts that were composed in honour of the Virgin Mary in the ninth through twelfth centuries. The narrative strategies, biblical exegesis, and theological preoccupations of these texts differ in significant ways from conventional liturgical treatment of the Virgin; however, these texts also reveal influence from earlier apocryphal, patristic, and historical sources to a degree not evident in the liturgical material. The development of doctrine and devotion concerning the Virgin Mary in the Late Antique period has been heavily studied in recent years, sometimes creating the impression that later contributors had little to offer, short of repeating traditional formulas. It is the aim of this workshop to prove that Byzantine writers, working creatively within a variety of literary and liturgical genres, continued from the sixth century onward to develop new theological, rhetorical and spiritual approaches to Mary, the Mother of God.

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