The Byzantine Traditions of the Virgin Mary’s Dormition and Assumption

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Fundamental to the development of preaching on the Mother of God was the introduction of special feast-days in her honor into the liturgical calendar. This process is unfortunately difficult to reconstruct, owing to the lack of liturgical and historical sources for the period before the ninth century. The end of the Virgin Mary’s life remains a relatively uncertain moment in the Christian story. Our understanding of the end of Mary’s life improves considerably, however, once we reach the late fifth and sixth centuries,
when there was suddenly an efflorescence of diverse traditions, both narrative and liturgical, all celebrating the Virgin’s departure from this world. This sudden proliferation
of traditions calls for an explanation: something about this topic and its narrative traditions must have resonated with the issues and concerns of the early Byzantine world.
The present contribution will focus on the origin of the Byzantine traditions of the Virgin Mary’s dormition and assumption, as also as on the christological and doctrinal
signification of the Virgin Mary’s cult. Our analysis will be based on the previous scholarschip and the Marian canons promulgated by the Councils of Ephesus (431) and
Chalcedon (451).