Mary of Galilee (Volume III): The Marian Heritage of the Early Church
Bertrand Buby
New York: Alba House, 1997

Mary of Galilee is the name of a trilogy of works by Fr. Buby, volumes inspired by the vision and spirit of Vatican II's Lumen gentium (chapter 8), Dei Verbum, and the Congregation for Catholic Education's letter, "The Virgin Mary in Intellectual and Spiritual Formation." From these seeds germinated this three-volume study of Mary in the Scriptures and in its earliest commentators.

Volume I treated Mary in the New Testament; volume II examined Mary in the Hebrew Scriptures, the Liturgy, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The third volume explores the Marian doctrine and devotion of the first five centuries of Christianity. A pervading theme throughout the work is that the Marian heritage of the Church must be continually reexamined, reappropriated, and transmitted to future generations. The author outlines the Marian teachings of the early preachers and writers, while calling the reader to affirmation and response. The early writers pondered the Scriptures, while involved in all the controversies of the era. Each wrote in a distinctive style as they searched for fresh images to communicate the Christian message. Slowly, new terms developed. Political terminology was used: Jesus became the "Pantocrator" (the Almighty), the extension of "Kyrios" (Lord). Mary was "Theotokos," God-bearer or forth-bringer of God.

More than twenty vignettes are presented to entice the reader to respond to the image of the Mary which the authors present. Excerpts are taken from Ignatius of Antioch, Justin, Irenaeus, the Protogospel of James. A chapter deals with Mary in the Koran.

The final chapter contains ten biblical principals employed by the early writers, together with six conclusions about their way of presenting the Virgin Mary. The select bibliography is a significant contribution, providing an overview of the apochryphal and patristic literature. The text reads smoothly and is always mindful of the pastoral implications of each topic. Both the reader seeking general information as well as the student looking for bibliographical leads will find this volume interesting and useful.

-John Samaha, S.M.

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The Thousand Faces of the Virgin Mary
George H. Tavard
Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1996

Fr. Tavard began his book on Anglican orders saying that he had resolved not to write more on that topic unless something new could be said. He could have made a similar resolve about the Blessed Virgin, for much in this book has not been said before. Marian titles are not the subject of this book. Rather it is an examination of Mary's relation to "Christian doctrines in a broad ecumenical perspective." The broad ecumenical perspective includes the place of Mary in the Scriptures, the apochryphal literature, the Koran; the images of Mary in Eastern Orthodoxy, in Protestantism, in poetry, in popular devotion and apparitions. There are also instructive chapters on female symbols of the Absolute in Hinduism and Buddhism.

Tavard should be recognized as a pioneer of Christian feminism, one who wrote on the topic before the term gained currency. He insists that grammatical gender is no indication of the reality. He also shows that the equality of women is independent of whether a society is matriarchal and patriarchal, both of which have alternated in the course of history. He is concerned about Scriptural texts cited to justify destruction of the earth--Gaia--and its resources. To the medieval trilogy which related Church, Mary, and soul, he adds Gaia.

To attempt an ecumenical treatise on Mary is no small challenge, since both the World Council of Churches and the bilateral ecumenical discussions have shown great reluctance to discuss Marian doctrine and devotion. When the churches are ready to discuss the Marian doctrine, Tavard suggests the two Marian definitions of 1854 and 1950 be restated in a way that the whole of Christian tradition, including Orthodoxy and Protestantism can contribute to its formulation. This may well be the "ultimate test of ecumenical commitment."

There is an impassioned ecumenism in these pages, not unlike the insistence on the need for Christian unity found in John Paul II's encyclical That All May Be One. In both works, unity is not something which is added to the Gospel, but something which stands at the heart of the Christian message (#9). Its absence is a "grave obstacle" to the preaching of the Gospel." In the matter of definition of doctrines, Tavard states that "authorities of the Church should strive for pastoral reasons to make the path of salvation less onerous." The Pope states, that in the journey toward unity, "one must not impose any burden beyond that which is strictly necessary." (#78) (cf. Acts 15, 28)  The encyclical asks "What more needs to be done?" Fr. Tavard's book is full of suggestions.

--Thomas A. Thompson, S.M.

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Our Lady, the Mother of Jesus in Christian Faith and Devotion
Norman Pittenger
London: SCM Press, 1996

While it may be "an exaggeration to speak of a Marian movement in contemporary Anglicanism," recent works by Donald Allchin, John Macquarrie, and Norman Pittenger suggest some stirrings. In this work, Pittenger continues his life's project of making the entire fabric of Christian theology accessible in process conceptual categories.

Pittenger sees the roots of Marian reflection in the gospel traditions, refracted through the experience of the Christian community. The gospels are written ex fide, in fidem, to express and invoke faith. The virginal conception in the Lukan and Matthaean infancy narratives affirms that "Jesus [is] genuinely from God rather than to assert the supposed virginity of his mother." In the apocryphal literature, Pittenger distinguishes between sheer legend and genuine myth. The second Eve, the perpetual virginity, and the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of Mary are all classified as "mariological mythology." The Freudian discovery that a mother has an overwhelming influence for good or bad on the conduct of her child is an inductive indication of the Immaculate Conception.

In the Annunciation, Mary's response to the divine initiative makes her "a model of all genuine Christian discipleship." The doctrine of the communion of saints expresses our reliance and interdependence upon one another in the order of grace which, for Pittenger, corresponds also to the order of nature. The inter-connexion of all actual entities in the becoming of creation reflects God's Being as Communion, and Mary's Fiat exemplified that appropriate response as God lures creation eschatologically to himself. The most problematic aspect of Pittenger's work are his references to Jesus as "a peculiarly vivid and decisive revelation of the deity," "a disclosure of God as 'pure unbounded Love," and the consequent reluctance to speak of Mary as "Mother of God."

This book is announced as his "last work" in the career of man who has dedicated himself to "bringing the truth of Christianity out of the cloister or the study and giving it currency in the living thought of men and women today." While affirming his contribution to rendering theology accessible, the highest accolade for this his final work is one of firm and critical appreciation.

--Owen F. Cummings
Mount Angel Seminary

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In Search of Mary: The Woman and the Symbol
Sally Cunneen
New York: Ballantine Books, 1996

In Search of Mary is a personal search. It is the author's attempt to piece together images of Mary that have been important to her but whose meaning has changed. In this inquiry, she examines the New Testament, looks at the role of Mary in the struggling church of the early centuries, evokes the emergence of the God-bearer in the patristic era. Sally Cunneen deals with differing views toward Mary among Catholics and Protestants, her inculturation in the nations of the New World, and the nineteenth-century developments of Marian apparitions and devotions. As the author reaches the present, her image of Mary escapes the purely traditional expressions and offers fresh discoveries that are meaningful to contemporary men and women. This attractive and readable book on Mary evokes a matured Marina Warner but does not espouse her conclusions. Mary is not a fossilized symbol anymore. Both woman and symbol, she is very much alive and even useful. "Whether we are believers or nonbelievers, it is worthwhile to think about Mary today if only to clarify our attitude to religion in general." In Search of Mary attempts a dialogue between theological insights and artistic creation, between the place of Mary in earlier eras and interpretations by contemporary, mostly feminine, viewers. The result is that of a complex Marian figure almost infinitely malleable but a powerful presence for millions and women for two thousand years.

--Johann Roten, S.M.

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Our Lady of Guadalupe: the Origins and Sources of a Mexican National Symbol, 1531-1797
Stafford Poole, C.M.
Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1996

Stafford Poole writes as a historian seeking documentation for apparitions at Guadalupe to Blessed Juan Diego, popularly believed to have taken place in 1531. In the past quarter century, there have been many serious studies on Guadalupe--Jacques Lafaye, Mauro Rodriguez, Edmundo O'Gorman. The story of Guadalupe is "complex and tortuous in the extreme," and this is perhaps the fullest and clearest available, thanks to the author's familiarity with Nahuatl, the native language.

That a Marian shrine existed at Guadalupe from the first half of the sixteenth century is not disputed. Popular literature will continue to date Guadalupe in 1531 under Bishop Zumarraga, but scholarly opinions will date it to the mid-1550s and Archbishop Montufar. What is questioned is why the account of the apparition was not written until 1648 by Miguel Sanchez, who appeared to use the shrine to promote a national criollo identity. The author seems unaware of the twin traditions, found from 1556 to 1666, one of which stresses the role of the Bishop Zumarraga and the gift of the image, and the other which speaks of Mary's promises and the cure of Juan Diego's uncle. The work concentrates on the written accounts, while the oral traditions which allowed Sanchez to synthesize the traditions are neglected. Though the style is readable, the author writes as a dispassionate observer, rarely showing the sympathy of a William Christian or William Taylor towards the pilgrims, nor much admiration for their trust in Providence.

--Martinus Cawley, OCSC

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