Virgin of Guadalupe: Theological Reflections of an Anglo-Lutheran Liturgist.
Roman & Littlefield, 2002.
Recently, the Episcopal Church in the USA (ECUSA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) produced official liturgical books in Spanish (Libro de oración commun and Libro de Liturgía y Cántico) to assist those ministering to Hispanics. The Virgin of Guadalupe is celebrated in some Protestant churches on December 12. (A publication of the Augsburg Fortress Press, Sundays and Seasons, designates December 12 as "Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.") With the growth of the Hispanic population in the United States, the Virgin of Guadalupe is being studied by all Christians. This book by Maxwell Johnson, a Lutheran church historian and liturgist, now teaching at Notre Dame University, deals with Guadalupe from different perspectives--especially the historical and liturgical--but appears mainly to deal with the concerns non-Catholics might have about Guadalupe.
The work begins with a historical study of the Guadalupan narrative (the Nican Mopohua) and the recurring question of the absence of early written records for the event, an objection raised by many historians. In his response, Johnson frequently gives examples from the formulation of the Scriptures and of early church documents where at times there was a considerable lapse between an event and its formal written record. In preliterate cultures, records were preserved in the oral tradition.
A second part of the work deals with contemporary interpretations of Guadalupe from current American Catholic writers--Virgilio Elizondo, Orlando Espín, Robert Goizuet, Janet Rodriquez--who view Guadalupe within the context of popular religion, at times beyond official religion. Here Guadalupe is seen as a prism of evangelization, of inculturation, and of liberation; it represents the maternity of God and the new creation.
The last chapter corresponds most directly to the reason the book was written. The Guadalupe event appears so foreign to classical Protestantism, which is traditionally reserved in its Marian devotion and especially wary of apparitions and popular religion. Most Protestants now accept the image of the biblical Mary, but Guadalupe involves Mary's spiritual motherhood and her intercession. Is there a way in which Protestantism can embrace Guadalupe while being true to its founding principles? Part of the response is that Guadalupe is "dynamic parable of justification and a beautiful New World parable of the reign of God . . . it is a vehicle for the doctrine of justification by grace.” This book is a great guide through the thicket of ancient and contemporary literature on Guadalupe, as well as a sensitive discussion of the integration of Guadalupe into the liturgy of the churches.
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