The Life of the Virgin

The Life of the Virgin: Maximus the Confessor

TRANSLATED WITH AN INTRODUCTION AND NOTES BY Stephen J. Shoemaker
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 192
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1nq01n
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  • Book Info
    The Life of the Virgin
    Book Description:

    Long overlooked by scholars, this seventh-centuryLife of the Virgin, attributed to Maximus the Confessor, is the earliest complete Marian biography. Originally written in Greek and now surviving only in Old Georgian, it is now translated for the first time into English. It is a work that holds profound significance for understanding the history of late ancient and medieval Christianity, providing a rich source for understanding the history of Christian piety.

    ThisLifeis especially remarkable for its representation of Mary's prominent involvement in her son's ministry and her leadership of the early Christian community. In particular, it reveals highly developed devotion to Mary's compassionate suffering at the Crucifixion, anticipating by several centuries an influential medieval style of devotion known as "affective piety" whose origins generally have been confined to the Western High Middle Ages.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-18372-6
    Subjects: Religion, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-35)

    The text here translated for the first time into English is the earliest complete biography of the Virgin Mary, a work ascribed unanimously by its manuscript tradition to Maximums the Confessor (580—662), one of the most important theologians of the early Byzantine period. To be sure, this is not the first work to concern itself with the events of Mary’s life: in this it is preceded most importantly by theProtevangelium of James, a second-century biography of Mary in her youth, from her own miraculous conception until the birth of her son Jesus. Other important precursors also exist in...

  5. Chapter 1 BIRTH AND CHILDHOOD
    (pp. 36-49)

    I Hear this, all you nations, and take heed, all you inhabitants of the earth (cf. Isa 34.1)! Come all believers and gather all lovers of God, kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all judges of the earth, boys and girls, the old with the young, every tongue and every soul, let us hymn, praise, and glorify the all-holy, immaculate, and most blessed Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary,

    the throne of the king more exalted than the cherubim and seraphim,

    the mother of Christ our God,

    the city of God of which glorious things are spoken (cf. Ps...

  6. Chapter 2 THE ANNUNCIATION
    (pp. 50-60)

    19 And in the sixth month after Elizabeth’s conception the archangel Gabriel was sent by God to the city of Nazareth, to the house of Joseph, and he announced to the Virgin Mary the glorious and wonderful Annunciation, ineffable and incomprehensible, the foundation and beginning of all good things. And when, how, and where did the Annunciation take place? The virgin was fasting and standing in prayer near a fountain (cf. Protev 11.1), because she conceived the fountain of life (cf. Ps 35.10). It was in the first month, when God also created the whole world, in order to show...

  7. Chapter 3 THE NATIVITY
    (pp. 61-74)

    30 Nevertheless, when Joseph recognized her pregnancy, he could hardly bear it, because he was unaware of the great mystery. That is why he was filled with sadness, because he was a just man, and he thought that allowing her to remain in his own house would be a transgression of the Law and a cause of suspicion against himself. And he likewise thought that exposing her and handing her over to the high priests for punishment would be cruel, so on account of his great virtue and godly life, he spared her and had mercy on her. Therefore he...

  8. Chapter 4 THE PRESENTATION IN THE TEMPLE
    (pp. 75-91)

    46 And on the fortieth day after the Nativity theywent up to Jerusalem to present him before the Lord, as is the ordinance of the Law, which says that every child that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord(Luke 2.22—23). Now it is understood by all that he is purifying and also is purified.¹ But it is not known to all that this was seemingly spoken and fulfilled only with respect to every first-born child, who were also brought before the Lord according to the saying of the Law, and an offering of two...

  9. Chapter 5 THE REVELATION (OR THE EPIPHANY)
    (pp. 92-100)

    64 And let us now hear the story of the revelation and the baptism of the Lord. Jesus was thirty years old, and John was a little older. At that time,in the fifteenth year of emperor Tiberius, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert, and he went to all the region surrounding the Jordan and proclaimed a baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sins(Luke 3.1–3).Then Jerusalem and Judea were going out to him, and all the country around the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the Jordan...

  10. Chapter 6 ON THE PASSION
    (pp. 101-118)

    73 When the time of the life-giving Passion arrived, when the gracious and sweet Lord was judged by the high priests and princes and was tortured and crucified, not only was the immaculate mother inseparable from him, but she shared his pain. And I would say, even though it is a bold statement, that she suffered more than him and endured sorrows of the heart: for he was God and Lord of all things, and he willingly endured suffering in the flesh. But she possessed the frailty of a human being and a woman and was filled with such love...

  11. Chapter 7 ON THE RESURRECTION
    (pp. 119-129)

    92 Nevertheless, the immaculate mother was inseparable from the tomb, and she was watching and listening to everything that was happening and being said. She saw the great earthquake that woke thefirst fruits¹ of those who have fallen asleep(cf. 1 Cor 15.20) and put the guards to sleep and rolled away the stone (cf. Matt 28.2, 4), and then the waking of the guards again and their entry into the city (cf. Matt 28.11). All this the women who had gone and come back again were not able to see, but the blessed mother of the Lord, seized...

  12. Chapter 8 THE DORMITION
    (pp. 130-148)

    103 Now by her grace let us speak about her Dormition and removal from the world to the eternal kingdom, for it is the joy and the light of pious souls to hear such a story. When Christ our God wanted to bring his all-holy and immaculate mother forth from the world and lead her into the kingdom of heaven so that she would receive the eternal crown of virtues and supernatural labors, and so that he could place her at his right hand beautifully adorned with golden tassels in many colors (cf. Ps 44.10, 14) and proclaim her queen...

  13. Chapter 9 CONCLUSION
    (pp. 149-160)

    125 Behold, what mind will fathom, or what tongue will express, or what master scribe’s hand will write the innumerable multitude of the graces and benevolences of the holy and evervirgin Theotokos, which she manifested and manifests from day to day among the human race?

    She is the ardent intercessor with her son, Christ God, for all those who entreat her.

    She is the calm harbor of all those buffeted by waves, who rescues them from spiritual¹ and fleshly waves.

    She is the guide on the way of life for all who have gone astray.

    She is the one who...

  14. APPENDIX: A Guide to Liturgical Reading of the Life of the Virgin from an Eleventh-Century Manuscript from the Monastery of Mar Saba near Bethlehem
    (pp. 161-164)
  15. NOTES
    (pp. 165-204)
  16. INDEX OF NAMES AND SUBJECTS
    (pp. 205-210)
  17. INDEX OF BIBLICAL CITATIONS AND REFERENCES (INCLUDING THE PROTEVANGELIUM OF JAMES)
    (pp. 211-216)