Proclus of Constantinople and the Cult of the Virgin in Late Antiquity: Homilies 1-5, Texts and Translations

Proclus of Constantinople and the Cult of the Virgin in Late Antiquity: Homilies 1-5, Texts and Translations

Proclus of Constantinople and the Cult of the Virgin in Late Antiquity: Homilies 1-5, Texts and Translations

Proclus of Constantinople and the Cult of the Virgin in Late Antiquity: Homilies 1-5, Texts and Translations

Synopsis

Proclus of Constantinople was an outstanding pulpit orator who established the rhetoric and rationale for the Byzantine devotion to the Mother of God. In this book, the critical editions of Proclus most celebrated Marian sermons (Homilies 1-5) provide the point of departure for a far-reaching study of the rise of the Virgins cult in Late Antiquity. The homilies are supported by a historical introduction to the life and work of Proclus, situating him within the larger religious culture of fifth-century Constantinople. Richly documented chapters explore the symbolism of the incarnation and virgin birth, including the notion of virginal conception through hearing," and the image of Marys womb as a textile loom wich weaves a veil of flesh the bodiless divinity."

Excerpt

Proclus of Constantinople (sed. 434–46) was an outstanding pulpit orator who indulged in lavish praise of the Virgin Mary. When, in a series of controversial sermons, his bishop Nestorius banned the use of the popular Marian epithet 'Theotokos,' Proclus moved to unseat him. Proclus' defense of the Virgin was closely intertwined with his emphasis on a unity of subject in Christ that alone could explain her 'giving birth to God.' Upon his subsequent elevation to the see of Constantinople, Proclus became the first native of the newly-founded Byzantine capital to attain that city's highest ecclesiastical office. From his position as archbishop, Proclus worked avidly to promote the rising cult of the 'Godbearing' Virgin, and continued to develop the idea of a single incarnate person, or 'hypostasis,' in Christ, which his successors conveyed to the Council of Chalcedon. Proclus' theologically brilliant conception of the Theotokos, which is inseparable from his christology, profoundly and lastingly influenced the rhetoric and rationale of the Byzantine cult of the Virgin Mary.

This study of Proclus of Constantinople and the cult of the Virgin in late antiquity is organized around three major focal points: history, philology, and theology. The centerpiece is a critical edition of five of Proclus' most important festal sermons on Christ and the Theotokos, framed by a historical introduction and a study of Proclus' signature images of the Virgin Mary. Chapters 1–3 provide a detailed introduction to the life of Proclus, situating him within the intellectual and historical milieu of fifth-century Constantinople. Critical moments in Proclus' career, and in the development of his christology, took place on the eve of the Council of Ephesus (A.D. 431), and, again, in the period between the Council of Ephesus and the Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451). When compared to the Councils themselves, these periods have received relatively little scholarly attention, but are here explored in depth. As will be seen, the supposed historical margins and theological peripheries are no less fascinating and formative than the celebrated events to whose shadows they have commonly been relegated.

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