Thursday, 2 April 2015

Mary B. Cunningham: 'Apocryphal and Hagiographical Influences on Epiphanios of Kallistratou's Life of the Virgin Mary' (WS)

The Life of the Virgin Mary that is attributed to the early ninth-century monk, Epiphanios of the Kallistratou Monastery in Constantinople, displays unique characteristics which set it apart from the rest of the Marian hagiographical corpus. The author seeks to provide an authentic biography of the Virgin Mary, describing her activities before, during and after the life of her son, Jesus Christ. The narrative is enriched by material that is drawn from apocryphal texts such as the second-century Protevangelium of James, canonical scripture, and early Byzantine Marian homilies. Epiphanios also cites patristic authorities such as Dionysius the Areopagite and Andrew of Crete as sources of inspiration. This paper will examine the various literary influences on Epiphanios’s Life, attempting also an explanation of its theological purpose and intended audience. So far, apart from a few brief references to the work, scholars have ignored its importance in a developing Byzantine hagiographical tradition surrounding the Virgin Mary, which would find its fullest expression in tenth-century works such as theLife of the Virgin by John Geometres. It will be argued that Epiphanios’s contribution to this genre reflects a concern for history, topography, and authentic tradition in response to growing veneration of the Mother of God during the period of iconoclasm.

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