The Life of the Virgin


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Maximus the Confessor

Translated, with an Introduction and Notes, by Stephen J. Shoemaker

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Long overlooked by scholars, this seventh-century Life 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.

This Life is 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.

Stephen J. Shoemaker is associate professor of religious studies at the University of Oregon. He lives in Springfield, OR.

“Shoemaker has provided us not only with the translation but also with a thorough introduction to the whole work . . . [an] important addition to the literature.”—Lawrence S. Cunningham, Commonweal
“Charming and indeed edifying . . . accessible . . . engaging.”—Bruce Foltz, Books and Culture

“Shoemaker has done a great service . . . eminently readable . . . important.”—Jacob N. Van Sickle, Journal of Early Christian Studies
ISBN: 9780300175042
Publication Date: May 29, 2012
232 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4