subtitle: her place in the history of culture
renowned Yale historian compiles in 233 pages (yale U. press) the doctrines or teachings about Mary, the most well-known woman (“the most inspiring woman”)
in world history.
He was a Lutheran and converted to the Orthodox faith before his death in 2006. The book carries his biases, for sure, as he admits. But, such as that, he does list the Catholic doctrines about Mary and presents the arguments against the doctrine.
The doctrines about Mary have had an evolution starting in the early Church. As a body of doctrine, they rival the evolution of the doctrine of the Trinity – neither of which doctrines are given explicitly in scripture.
So, in looking at their history, he points out the process of the development of doctrine, itself, and holds this up for examination. [it is good to point out that Protestants have developed doctrines, too]
For example, the doctrines about the Trinity developed in the Eastern Greek churches and were hammered out by ecumenical councils. In contrast, the dogmas (greek for “decree”) about Mary were issued by papal authority, giving papal authority in such matters an equivalence with scripture.
He covers the Old Testament verses which are thought to pertain to Mary.
His discussion includes the discussion of the psychological significance of Mary.