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BOOK REVIEWS General and Miscellaneous Mary through the Centuries: Her Place in the History of Culture. By Jaroslav Pelikan. (New Haven:Yale University Press. 1996. Pp. xii, 267. $25.00.) In this companion volume to his highly successful Jesus through the Centuries (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985), Jaroslav Pelikan, Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University, offers an educated but nonspeciaUst audience an engaging and informative account of the multi-faceted impact of the Blessed Virgin Mary on devotion, theology, and culture. Pelikan concentrates on material from the patristic period through the nineteenth century : bibUcal texts are presented briefly and incompletely, and apart from discussion of Pope Pius XII's definition of the Assumption and a few pages on the Second Vatican CouncU, little attention is paid to the twentieth century. Lavishly Ulustrated with thirty-seven well-chosen photographs (about hatf in color), Mary through the Centuries is structured chiefly as an account of diverse but often complementary titles and images of Mary, usuaUy presented in pairs chosen to reflect polarities and thus to suggest a certain balance in overaU estimation. A loose historical framework is gained by examining the titles and images in the sequence Ln which they achieved their greatest prominence, but the book does not take the form of a straightforward chronological presentation . This procedure, whUe effective in some respects, has certain disadvantages : it causes, for example, patristic and medieval theological and liturgical developments relevant to the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption to be relegated to the concluding chapters of the book, since the timing of the dogmatic definitions of 1854 and 1950 ultimately determines the location of this material. As a result, Pelikan does not fufiy succeed in conveying a clear picture of the historical development of Mariology. Particularly useful sections include the accounts of Mary as Second Eve and as Theotokos and the treatment of the Marian teaching of the Reformers. Much attention is devoted to art (especiaUy depictions of the Annunciation) and literature (especially Dante and Goethe). Doctrinal and devotional material is treated sympatheticaUy and on the whole accurately, while modern revisionist interpretations are viewed with notable reserve. Mary through the Centuries may be recommended as a reUable guide to its chosen topic. There are deficiencies: some repetition, often of minor points, 305 306BOOK REVIEWS perhaps due to the book's origin as a lecture series; disproportionate focus on material which the author has studied in earlier publications; attribution of exaggerated content to the dogma of the Assumption in an attempted paraphrase using the words of the seventeenth-century Spanish mystic Maria de Agreda (p. 204); misidentification of Lumen Gentium as the first document adopted by the Second Vatican Council (p. 212). But the book fulfills the author's goal of providing an appealing popular account ofthe varied and generaUy positive impact of Mary on the history of culture. John P. Galvin The CathoUc University ofAmerica Histoire de lapénitence des origines à nosJours. By Philippe RouiUard. [Petits Cerf-Histoire.] (Paris: Les Éditions du Cerf. 1996. Pp. 210. 140 FF.) This concise survey of penance from the New Testament to the present is at once a history of the subject and a historical document. It is history written from the perspective of the present, by a not-disinterested reformer. The author is a Benedictine monk who teaches sacramental theology at St. Anselm's in Rome, and thus knows his subject. Aside from certain emphases one might quarrel with, the only error I found was the identification of De vera etfalsa penitentia as a letter of the late tenth century (p. 159). He obviously sympathizes with some of the reforms and reformers he describes, but he can also betray his disapproval (e.g., of the Roman Catechism's gloss on "ego te absolvo," p. 172). In his conclusion he invokes the pluralism of this long history to establish the fact and legitimacy of institutional change and to suggest ways to remedy the current decline in confession. That situation is dramaticaUy conveyed by a supporting document that records "une chute spectaculaire" of confession among French Catholics. Frequency% 1952 % 1974 % 1983 at least once a month151 1 a few times a year18168 once a year18125 less...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-0708
Print ISSN
0008-8080
Pages
pp. 305-306
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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