Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ/Studying Mary: The Virgin Mary in Anglican and Roman Catholic Theology and Devotion

By Flanagan, Brian P. | Anglican Theological Review, Fall 2009 | Go to article overview

Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ/Studying Mary: The Virgin Mary in Anglican and Roman Catholic Theology and Devotion


Flanagan, Brian P., Anglican Theological Review


Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ. The Text with Commentaries and Study Guide. Edited by Donald Bolen and Gregory Cameron. New York: Continuum, 2006. xi + 258 pp. $21.95 (paper).

Studying Mary: The Virgin Mary in Anglican and Roman Catholic Theology and Devotion. The ARCIC Working Papers. Edited by Adelbert Denaux and Nicholas Sagovsky. London: T & T Clark, 2007. xii + 277 pp. $130.00 (cloth).

The publication in 2005 of Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ, the socalled "Seattle Statement" of the second phase of the Anglican- Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC II), was met with joyful surprise in some sectors of the two communions, outraged concern in others, and, sadlv, ignorance or polite indifference in most. Suffice it to say that the headline of the Times- Picayune of New Orleans - "Divisions That Sparked Reformation Settled" - might be a bit premature. These two books will not assuage all concerns or, on their own, settle any arguments, but they have great potential to address the surprise many felt upon hearing the commissioners' judgment that the Roman Catholic dogmas regarding Mary "can be said to be consonant with teaching of the Scriptures and die ancient common traditions" (Mary, p. 85) and that "issues concerning doctrine and devotion to Mary need no longer be seen as communion-dividing" Mary, p. 87). It may also be hoped that, given the document's call for a shared re-reception by Anglicans and Roman Catholics of Marian doctrine, diese two books might assist in overcoming our ignorance of each ouher and of this text.

While both books aim to assist such a re-reception, they are suited to different authences. The 2006 book, bearing the same name as the document, is the more accessible of the two, in both style and price. It begins with the text of the document itself, laid out with ample margins for notation and comment. It is followed by an impressive six-week study guide for use in parishes and in small-scale ecumenical discussions, suggesting a plan for reading the document in prayer and in conversation with Scripture. Four commentaries on the document follow. The first pair comprises a response to the document by Timothy Bradshaw, commissioned by the Anglican Communion Office, and another by Jared Wicks, S. J., commissioned by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. These two responses by theologians who were not members of the Commission provide the service of reading the document horn constructively critical Anglican and Roman Catholic perspectives, respectively. They will be useful in articulating the concerns and questions members of the communions will raise for any process of shared reception, as well as in making clear the real differences diat remain in and through the irenie tone of the document.

The next two commentaries are by Charles Sherlock and Sara Butler, M.S.B.T., Anglican and Roman Catholic members of the Commission, respectively, who were central in its deliberations as well as in die drafting of the text. Butlers commentary explores the document's relation to the Roman Catholic Marian dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and Ü\e Assumption. Sherlock's essay, entitled "The Journey: An Anglican Perspective," is particularly informative, and even moving, in relating the history of the Commission's work on die document and la's own personal history as the selfdescribed "most 'protestant' member of die Commission" (Mary, p. …

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