A Presbyterian Academic and the Virgin Mary

“Ironically, of course, that Mary even needs me to make this argument is thanks above all to Protestants like the Presbyterians, who in their insistence on sola scriptura managed to erase a whole tradition of reading with one fell swoop of the pen: “Medieval Catholics were making it up.”

Well, obviously I also wish she would come to Catholicism, but it’s perfectly true that the Scriptures are full of Mary and that Marian devotion is full of the Scriptures. I don’t know why most people don’t get this.

(Of course, I also think that Beatus of Liebana is fun and personable, so maybe I’m not the average person.)

But then, we modern Christians all find ourselves in a world that doesn’t recognize that the Old Testament is full of Jesus, even though Christians have been explaining all of that for centuries. I still keep finding “new” things in the Gospel that directly refer to the Old Testament, even though any early Christian or medieval scholar would have known all that from childhood.

Her forthcoming book sounds like it will be nifty. Here’s more from her blog post:

Would I have come to this way of reading the Scriptures about Mary if I had not been raised a Presbyterian, convinced that all the secrets of divinity lay hidden in the Book? Would I have taken the thirteenth-century Augustinian canon Richard of St. Laurent seriously when he insisted that Mary is the Book in which it is possible to read all the mysteries of God, if I did not already believe it were possible to find the whole of God’s plan for creation therein? Would I have paid proper attention to the thirteenth-century Franciscan Servasanctus of Faenza when he said that Mary is the book of life containing all the creatures of Creation, who herself promises, speaking as Wisdom: “They that explain me shall have life everlasting” (Ecclesiasticus 24:31), if I were not already seeking Wisdom in the Word? Would I have noticed the twelfth-century Cistercian Amadeus of Lausanne insisting that Mary is the key to the mystery, the one standing between the two golden baskets filled with the flowers of the Old Testament and the fruits of the New (he is commenting on Song of Songs 2:5: “Support me with blossoms. Stay me with apples, for I am sick with love”), if I had not been attending to the way in which he commented on the Song of Songs? As Amadeus tells it, one basket stands on the left of Mary and one on the right, while Mary is seen standing in the middle, mediating between the promise and the fulfillment, and “like the tree planted in the midst of paradise, she raises her head to the height of heaven and, conceiving by the heavenly dew, brings forth the fruit of salvation, the fruit of glory, the fruit of life, and he who eats of it will live forever.”

Heh, heh… and people think St. Alphonsus gets hyperbolic and overly poetic about Mary. Understated, he was. 🙂

And here’s a bit about the author’s religion and roots, which may be of interest.


1 Comment

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One response to “A Presbyterian Academic and the Virgin Mary

  1. Well, darn it, this professor lady is up to something weird. Apparently involving the whole “there used be a goddess married to the Lord, back in the Temple” thing. Well, hopefully she can pull out something orthodox, but….me not hopeful.


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