Author Topic: Presentation of Mary into the Temple  (Read 4086 times)

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Offline sprtslvr1973

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Presentation of Mary into the Temple
« on: November 22, 2010, 09:08:58 AM »
We just celebrated this feats yesterday. I have always been confused where this comes from. Can someone please help?
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Offline quietmorning

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Re: Presentation of Mary into the Temple
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2010, 09:40:49 AM »
St. Luke wrote a very popular book - which was not included into the cannon -  of the life of the Theotokos up to the birth of Christ Jesus?  I can't remember, I need to read it again.  But it explains why the Blessed Mother of God was brought to the temple.  The book I read is: The Lost Gospel of Mary: The Mother of Jesus in Three Ancient Texts [Hardcover] by Frederica Mathewes-Green.  St. Luke. St. James writes the Text of the Gospel, Frederica Mathewes-Green does a wonderful job of commenting/explaining the piece.  The Church has held this account as part of Her Tradition.  

A very short synopsis would be:  The Theotokos, St. Mary. was a long awaited birth - as her parents could not conceive.  Her mother dedicated her to the Lord upon conception - and brought her to the temple as dedicated when Mary was three, much in the same way Hannah brought Samuel.  

Correction:  This was written by James, not Luke, sorry about that - toooooo early in the morning!
« Last Edit: November 22, 2010, 09:51:36 AM by quietmorning »
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Offline recent convert

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Re: Presentation of Mary into the Temple
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2010, 09:48:14 AM »
There is a writing attributed to St James see http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0847.htm it is from the very early 2nd c. & I asked our priest whether this is perhaps a second hand but true account of the testimony of St. James & he told me that is probably the case. There are some accounts I have wondered about but truly trust this tradition of the Theotokos as from St. James.
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Offline genesisone

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Re: Presentation of Mary into the Temple
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2010, 11:20:08 AM »
There is a writing attributed to St James see http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0847.htm it is from the very early 2nd c. & I asked our priest whether this is perhaps a second hand but true account of the testimony of St. James & he told me that is probably the case. There are some accounts I have wondered about but truly trust this tradition of the Theotokos as from St. James.
Those are my feelings exactly. I rather think it was a case of someone writing down "the story that St James told my grandfather." This may account for what some claim to be "embellishments", without denying the basic historicity of the events.

That there would have been such a story comes as no surprise. There must have been many stories in circulation about the Theotokos and other key persons mentioned in the Gospel narratives. We should be thankful that we have this very early written record.

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Re: Presentation of Mary into the Temple
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2010, 11:34:43 AM »
There is a writing attributed to St James see http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0847.htm it is from the very early 2nd c. & I asked our priest whether this is perhaps a second hand but true account of the testimony of St. James & he told me that is probably the case. There are some accounts I have wondered about but truly trust this tradition of the Theotokos as from St. James.
Those are my feelings exactly. I rather think it was a case of someone writing down "the story that St James told my grandfather." This may account for what some claim to be "embellishments", without denying the basic historicity of the events.

That there would have been such a story comes as no surprise. There must have been many stories in circulation about the Theotokos and other key persons mentioned in the Gospel narratives. We should be thankful that we have this very early written record.
Yes, this is one that is truly most faithful & prior to the emperors. Also St. Ignatius in a section of his epistle to the Ephesians (100 AD) testifies to events that seem to proceed from the Protoevag. of St. James re the Theotokos & the incarnation. So although the document of the Proto is about 130 AD, the continuity of tradtion from St.Luke to St. James to St. Ignatius attests to its holiness.
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Offline biro

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Re: Presentation of Mary into the Temple
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2010, 01:02:15 PM »
Not to be too technical, but why was the Protoevangelion of James not selected for the New Testament canon? I am just curious, as it seems to be reliable in part. Thank you.  :)
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Offline sprtslvr1973

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Re: Presentation of Mary into the Temple
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2010, 01:15:48 PM »
The thing that confuses me now is that many people are referencing apocryphal texts whereas many Orthodox apologists have boasted about how their church protected people from these very books (e.g. Lost Gospel of Mary).
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Re: Presentation of Mary into the Temple
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2010, 01:40:19 PM »
I think much of this is because there was a state of flux because of persecutions in the early church & only what was directly attested to the apostles became New Testament scripture & what was accepted by the Jews became old testament scripture. The Protoevg of St. James was not accepted as scripture but upheld Orthodoxy & is probably a second hand account in the true tradition of St. James but his original account lost during the destruction of Jerusalem & somebody faithfully preserved this tradition. Obviously a gnostic document like the Gospel of Mary (written later & no0t Orthodox in content) is to be rejected. The epistles of St. Ignatius are true but not scriptural & uphold tradition. Also, many of these ancient writings  were lost for centuries & only recovered within the last 200 years or less. One can be amazed as to what was long just known as based on oral tradtion was also written down; for ex. the fast days of Wed. & Fri. were written down in the Didache (Ca. 95-100 AD) but this original account lost for perhaps over 800 years.
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Re: Presentation of Mary into the Temple
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2010, 01:46:39 PM »
The thing that confuses me now is that many people are referencing apocryphal texts whereas many Orthodox apologists have boasted about how their church protected people from these very books (e.g. Lost Gospel of Mary).

Actually they boast that they can do both simultaneously, sometimes dividing up a single work into "hunky dory" parts vs. "Gonna send you to hell" parts (e.g. the Apostolic Constitutions).
« Last Edit: November 22, 2010, 01:47:27 PM by Asteriktos »

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Re: Presentation of Mary into the Temple
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2010, 02:12:30 PM »
Not to be too technical, but why was the Protoevangelion of James not selected for the New Testament canon? I am just curious, as it seems to be reliable in part. Thank you.  :)

Because it was held that it did not proclaim the preaching that the Apostles were to preach to the ends of the Earth.  Not that it contradicted it, but the circumstances surrounding the Holy Theotokos' birth did not go to the heart of the message of salvation as did the circumstances surrounding Christ's birth. Similarly the lost epistles of St. Paul: if they were found, they would not be added to the canon, as the Church, which had them, decided on the ones she preserved to proclaim the Apostles' Faith.
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Offline biro

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Re: Presentation of Mary into the Temple
« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2010, 02:22:09 PM »
Thank you.   :)
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Offline Iconodule

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Re: Presentation of Mary into the Temple
« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2010, 05:08:08 PM »
The thing that confuses me now is that many people are referencing apocryphal texts whereas many Orthodox apologists have boasted about how their church protected people from these very books (e.g. Lost Gospel of Mary).

The Orthodox Church protects people from heretical books. Simply being apocryphal doesn't mean anything as to whether the text contains sound teaching or not. When it comes to that, there is no comparison between Gnostic texts purporting to be gospels and books of the Church like the Protoevangelium of James.
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Offline HabteSelassie

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Re: Presentation of Mary into the Temple
« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2010, 05:36:29 PM »
Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

While the pseudo-canonical gospel that directly narrates this story has been not accepted as legimate, the near verbatim versions of this story which permeate the calendars and synaxarium of many jurisdictions of this Holy Tradition have indeed already canonized the story.  Personally, I love this story, and it always enhances my prayers of the Psalms of Ascent.  In the Tewahedo tradition, the first of each month celebrates this solemn occasion, and the event is allegorical of all of our own deification as God brings us into His Temple through the Divine Economy of the Incarnation.  Just as Mary, a human being, in the Grace of God fulfilled these miraculous requirements, so to can God bring such into our own lives.  Our Lady is the Mother of us All because we are all like the Virgin Mary, human beings searching to live within the Will of God.

stay blessed,
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Re: Presentation of Mary into the Temple
« Reply #13 on: November 22, 2010, 10:40:03 PM »
The thing that confuses me now is that many people are referencing apocryphal texts whereas many Orthodox apologists have boasted about how their church protected people from these very books (e.g. Lost Gospel of Mary).

Church councils have endorsed the Orthodox apocryphal works ad good for reading; they just rejected them as scripture. The only reason these works are extant is that people copied them down and read them for centuries.

Offline sprtslvr1973

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Re: Presentation of Mary into the Temple
« Reply #14 on: November 22, 2010, 11:08:53 PM »
Thanks everyone but I still struggle with some of this. If Mary in the temple is not in Scripture does it not have the the possibility of being more of a story than truth? Should it be accepted as truth enough to make it a high point of the calendar?
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Re: Presentation of Mary into the Temple
« Reply #15 on: November 22, 2010, 11:31:00 PM »
Thanks everyone but I still struggle with some of this. If Mary in the temple is not in Scripture does it not have the the possibility of being more of a story than truth? Should it be accepted as truth enough to make it a high point of the calendar?

Without denying the historicity of the feast, the significance of it is the theological type of the Virgin entering into the Holy of Holies: she herself is the true Holy of Holies, in which God directly dwells. Hence it is a Christological feast.

The Kontakion:
    The sacred treasury of God's holy glory,
    The greatly precious bridal chamber and Virgin,
    The Saviour's most pure temple, free of stain and undefiled,
    Into the house of the Lord on this day is brought forward
    And bringeth with her the grace of the Most Divine Spirit;
    Her do God's angels hymn with songs of praise,
    For she is truly the heavenly tabernacle.

Offline Benjamin the Red

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Re: Presentation of Mary into the Temple
« Reply #16 on: November 22, 2010, 11:33:05 PM »
It is my understanding that the Gospel of James was excluded from the canon because authorship was somewhat questioned and that there are some historical inaccuracies. Of course, both of these can be found in other canonized books (The census mentioned in the Gospel of St. Matthew, IIRC, apparently did not happen. Authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews has always been somewhat suspect, etc.) I'm not sure of the full story of it's canonization (or lack thereof) but that's what little I do know.

I also believe that many of the traditions held in that Gospel pre-date the writing in the church calendar. The Presentation of the Theotokos is a VERY old feast of the Church, and it is this long-standing tradition of the feast itself that we can take it on good authority. The Gospel of St. James recorded the event, yes, but that does not mean the tradition began there.

And, I must second the comment from Rufus. That sounded like a one-sentence synopsis of my priest's homily this Sunday. :P
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Offline Salpy

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Re: Presentation of Mary into the Temple
« Reply #17 on: November 22, 2010, 11:56:07 PM »
Years ago, I heard a Russian monk speak about the New Testament canon and what determined which books would get in and which would be excluded.  He said there were three criteria each book had to meet to get in:

1.  The book had to be consistent with Tradition.  That excluded such things as the gnostic gospels.

2.  The book had to be authored by an apostle.  That excluded such books as the letters of St. Ignatius, who was not an apostle.  (I guess the Gospels of Mark and Luke got in because they were direct accounts given by apostles.)

3.  The book had to be about Christ.  That would exclude things like the Didache and the Protoevangelion.

The books that were excluded by only the last two criteria were still good reading; they were just not to be read liturgically.


Regarding the Feast of the Mother of God's Entrance into the Temple, it was celebrated yesterday by the Armenian Church.  I find that when a tradition exists among both the Oriental Orthodox and the Chalcedonians, it is a very ancient tradition. 

Offline podkarpatska

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Re: Presentation of Mary into the Temple
« Reply #18 on: November 23, 2010, 09:11:42 AM »
Years ago, I heard a Russian monk speak about the New Testament canon and what determined which books would get in and which would be excluded.  He said there were three criteria each book had to meet to get in:

1.  The book had to be consistent with Tradition.  That excluded such things as the gnostic gospels.

2.  The book had to be authored by an apostle.  That excluded such books as the letters of St. Ignatius, who was not an apostle.  (I guess the Gospels of Mark and Luke got in because they were direct accounts given by apostles.)

3.  The book had to be about Christ.  That would exclude things like the Didache and the Protoevangelion.

The books that were excluded by only the last two criteria were still good reading; they were just not to be read liturgically.


Regarding the Feast of the Mother of God's Entrance into the Temple, it was celebrated yesterday by the Armenian Church.  I find that when a tradition exists among both the Oriental Orthodox and the Chalcedonians, it is a very ancient tradition. 

Well said, I would just add that when the EO, OO and Chalcedonians concur on a tradition, it is both ancient and worthy.

Offline HabteSelassie

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Re: Presentation of Mary into the Temple
« Reply #19 on: November 23, 2010, 04:43:38 PM »
Thanks everyone but I still struggle with some of this. If Mary in the temple is not in Scripture does it not have the the possibility of being more of a story than truth? Should it be accepted as truth enough to make it a high point of the calendar?

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I can relate, but I had to learn over time to shed away my Protestant bias of assuming that everything simply has to be narrated in the Scriptures.  Then I began to become more familiar with the Holy Tradition, and I began to understand that the Scriptures are half of the story, and the active, living Tradition of the Orthodox is the other half.  When I reason about this with folks who are less persuaded, I try to remind them that who is the source and origin of these Scriptures, who are the copyists, the translators, the interpreters, the patrons and librarians? It was the Church all along, and so we must learn to trust the Church's views about what is Scriptural or not, and firstly acknowledge that Scripture is not the center of worship, the center of worship is Jesus Christ.  We must not consult books or canons, we must affirm our faith directly with our Lord and Savior, who is living and real. 

The Church teaches that the Holy Tradition is of equal veneration as the Holy Scriptures, so in Orthodox in truth your question is rather irrelevant.  I pointed out earlier that many Synaxarium and Calendars already canonize this story of the Virgin Presentation to the Temple, regardless of the pseudo-gospels which also tell the story are legitimate or accepted.  Honor the Tradition, trust in the Fathers, who may have rejected that text, but surely the continuation of the celebration of the event up unto this day testifies to its authenticity within the Church. 

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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Offline Shanghaiski

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Re: Presentation of Mary into the Temple
« Reply #20 on: November 23, 2010, 05:42:41 PM »
Thanks everyone but I still struggle with some of this. If Mary in the temple is not in Scripture does it not have the the possibility of being more of a story than truth? Should it be accepted as truth enough to make it a high point of the calendar?

It is part of holy tradition, as is Scripture. The feast was placed in the position it is liturgically by the holy fathers, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It has the authority of the Church, the same whose authority wrote and codified Scripture.
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