Mother of God: A History of the Virgin Mary

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9780300105001: Mother of God: A History of the Virgin Mary

How did the Virgin Mary, about whom very little is said in the Gospels, become one of the most powerful and complex religious figures in the world? To arrive at the answers to this far-reaching question, one of our foremost medieval historians, Miri Rubin, investigates the ideas, practices, and images that have developed around the figure of Mary from the earliest decades of Christianity to around the year 1600. Drawing on an extraordinarily wide range of sources—including music, poetry, theology, art, scripture, and miracle tales—Rubin reveals how Mary became so embedded in our culture that it is impossible to conceive of Western history without her.

In her rise to global prominence, Mary was continually remade and reimagined by wave after wave of devotees. Rubin shows how early Christians endowed Mary with a fine ancestry; why in early medieval Europe her roles as mother, bride, and companion came to the fore; and how the focus later shifted to her humanity and unparalleled purity. She also explores how indigenous people in Central America, Africa, and Asia remade Mary and so fit her into their own cultures.

Beautifully written and finely illustrated, this book is a triumph of sympathy and intelligence. It demonstrates Mary’s endless capacity to inspire and her profound presence in Christian cultures and beyond.

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About the Author:

Miri Rubin is professor of history, Queen Mary University of London. She lives in Cambridge, UK.

Review:

"Miri Rubin's Mother of God is an intellectually exuberant tour-de-force. Like the great cloak that in some medieval images billows out from the Virgin, enclosing her rapt worshipers, this book reaches out to embrace a startling range of human dreams, fears, and hopes across many centuries."—Stephen Greenblatt, Harvard University (Stephen Greenblatt)

“This is a book to fascinate the social historian. Here is wide learning, elegantly expressed. A brilliant and enlightening study of the religious imagination.”—Sr. Wendy Beckett, author of Sister Wendy on Prayer

(Sr. Wendy Beckett)

Mother of God is a breathtaking work of scholarship, surely the finest account of Mary’s impact on world culture from biblical up to modern times. Miri Rubin captures Mary’s profound appeal—as mother and virgin, chaste and fertile, chosen and modest, life-giver and mourner—and as an inspiration to countless artists, writers, and believers. It’s a remarkable achievement by one of the most gifted historians at work today.”—James Shapiro, Columbia University (James Shapiro)

“Rubin is adept at keeping the reader turning the pages. She has a gift of the bon mot.”—History Today
(History Today)

"In this magisterial work . . . Rubin traces Mary's rise to global prominence from the time of the early Christian empire to the 16th century. . . . [D]epict[s] the shift in representations of Mary through history. . . . Extensively researched and written for a wide audience."—From the citation for the April Selection of the Catholic Book Club (Catholic Book Club America)

“Miri Rubin captivatingly elucidates the history of one of the world’s greatest narratives.”—The Rumpus  (Rumpus)

"The most comprehensive and detailed account of the devotional response to the Virgin Mary at varying social and cultural levels through the centuries. . . . Unparalleled in scope, clarity, and scholarly reach, the book immerses readers in many forms of private and public veneration. . . . The story and history of Mary's unique holiness, her sacred and emotional presence, the awe and mystery of her, has never been told so well."—Timothy C. Miller, Magill's Literary Annual 2010 (Timothy C. Miller Magill's Literary Annual 2010)

"This book is an important new landmark in the study of Marian piety."--Stephen J. Shoemaker, American Historical Review (Stephen J. Shoemaker American Historical Review)

"Rubin's book takes its place as primus inter pares among a handful of general and magisterial studies. . . .Rubin's book is and will long be indispensable to future work on this most prominent of global religious figures."—Cleo McNelly Kearns, Speculum  (Cleo McNelly Kearns Speculum)

"The strength of her volume lies chiefly in those well-chosen texts, reinforced by her ability to sketch brief profiles of major contributors to doctrine in each period. . . . Rubin's fuller scholarly analysis and richer references will provide firmer grounding."—Larry Silver, Sixteenth Century Journal (Larry Silver Sixteenth Century Journal)

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