This book explores how the Virgin Mary's life is told in hymns, sermons, icons, art, and other media in the Byzantine Empire before AD 1204. A group of international specialists examines material and textual evidence from both Byzantine and Muslim-ruled territories that was intended for a variety of settings and audiences and seeks to explain why Byzantine artisans and writers chose to tell stories about Mary, the Mother of God, in such different ways. Sometimes the variation reflected the theological or narrative purposes of story-tellers; sometimes it expressed their personal spiritual preoccupations. Above all, the variety of aspects that this holy figure assumed in Byzantium reveals her paradoxical theological position as meeting-place and mediator between the divine and created realms. Narrative, whether 'historical', theological, or purely literary, thus played a fundamental role in the development of the Marian cult from Late Antiquity onward.
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