The Prehistory and Origins of the Dormition and Assumption Traditions

Stephen J. Shoemaker

in Ancient Traditions of the Virgin Mary's Dormition and Assumption

Published in print January 2003 | ISBN: 9780199250752
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600746 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Early Christian Studies

 The Prehistory and Origins of the Dormition and Assumption Traditions

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Many previous interpreters have sought to locate the origins of the Dormition traditions within ancient “Jewish‐Christianity.” Although they are quite correct in identifying a number of heterodox features present in some of the narratives, Jewish‐Christianity is a highly problematic construct that does not offer the best explanation for these features. Contact with some sort of gnostic Christianity can better explain these elements. Most importantly, these traces of contact with early Christian heterodoxy very strongly suggest that the narratives in question most likely were composed by the third century at the latest. This early date, along with several other features, makes very unlikely the frequently suggested hypothesis that the origin of the Dormition traditions is somehow linked with resistance to the council of Chalcedon.

Keywords: Chalcedon; Gnostic Christianity; heterodoxy; Jewish‐Christianity; origins of the Dormition traditions

Chapter.  31169 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

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