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Between Scripture And Tradition: The Marian Apocrypha Of Early Christianity

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Chapter Summary

In the study of ancient Christianity one frequently meets a tendency to regard early Christian apocryphal literature as rejected scriptures, produced largely by a variety of heterodox movements to rival or even replace the collection of New Testament writings that gave protoorthodox Christianity its core identity. Schneemelcher?s widely adopted description of ?New Testament? apocrypha largely ensured that for much of the last century early Christianity?s extra-biblical traditions would be regarded as unsuccessful, frequently heterodox, candidates for inclusion in the Christian canon. The Marian apocrypha of early Christianity in many instances belie Schneemelcher?s definition of apocrypha, and perhaps this explains why apocryphal traditions about the Virgin fare so poorly in his collection, which is in fact a virtual Marian wasteland. The most important of the various Lives of the Virgin is a seventh-century biography attributed to Maximus the Confessor that survives only in a Georgian translation.

Keywords: early Christian apocryphal literature; early Christianity?s extra-biblical traditions; Marian apocrypha; New Testament writings



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