Sunday, November 22, 2020

Fortnightly Book, November 22

 The next fortnightly book is one that I've been intending to do for a while, the seventh century The Life of the Virgin, the first extant hagiography devoted specifically to the Virgin Mary, and one of the most influential hagiographies of all time. It is attributed universally in the manuscripts to St. Maximus the Confessor; modern scholars have occasionally attempted to question this attribution, but beyond the fact that it would be the only extant hagiography written by Maximus, whose other works are more technical works in theology, there's not really any reason to deny the attribution.

Unfortunately, the original Greek version of the work no longer exists; the extant version is a translation of the Greek into Old Georgian. So I will be reading an English translation (by Stephen Shoemaker) of the Old Georgian translation of Maximus's original Greek work. Despite the Greek being missing, the work would have considerable influence on the course of Mariology, and is perhaps the single most influential early work on the Virgin Mary. As a fortnightly book, though, I will be reading it less as a mariological work and more as a story. This is in any case as good a time to read it as any; yesterday was the feast of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary and a fortnight will take us to December 5, just before the feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8; between two Marian feasts, one ancient and one more modern, seems a propitious time for reading it.