The Apocalypse of the Holy Theotokos, first edited from a single manuscript in 1866, has only recently become available in an English translation and commentary. However, the work enjoyed enormous pop-ularity in the later Byzantine period of the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries, when the Greek text was translated into almost a dozen other languages. An equally popular work of the mid-tenth century was the Vision of Anastasia. This paper considers Mary’s role in the two Apocalypses of the ninth to eleventh centuries in the broader context of Byzantine apocalypticism of the period. In particular, I focus on Mary’s role as a selective intercessor for Christian souls in torment, but not Jews. The increasing recognition of Mary’s humanity in the cult of the Theotokos (Mother of God) emerges as the justification for her discrim-ination against those who were perceived as the murderers of her son.
This paper considers Mary’s role in two Apocalypses of the ninth to eleventh centuries in the broader context of Byzantine apocalypticism of the period.* The Apocalypse of the Holy Theotokos has recently become available in an English translation and commentary by Jane Baun. Selections of this text were edited from a single manuscript, Venice Marc. VII.43 in 1866. Its relative inaccessibility to scholars does not reflect the enormous popularity of the work in the later Byzantine period of the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries, when it was translated into almost a dozen other languages, including a sixteenth-century Romanian version and Old Church Slavonic versions, as well as medieval Greek.3
*Some of this material has been included in my chapter ‘Mary as Intercessor in Byzantine Theology’, The Oxford Handbook of Mary, ed. Chris Maunder (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming).
1. Jane Baun, trans., Tales from Another Byzantium. Celestial Journey and Local Community in the Medieval Greek Apocrypha (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 391-400. This paper was originally presented at the conference on The Theotokos in the Oriental Churches, 18-20 August 2015, University of Winchester, UK.
2. Konstantin von Tischendorff, ed., Apocalypses Apocryphae Mosis, Esdrae, Pauli, Iohannis, item Mariae dormitio, additis Evangeliorum et actuum Apocryphorum supplementis (Leipzig, 1866; repr.. Hildesheim: G. Olms, 1966). A completed edition followed, made from Paris BN graecus 390, by Antoine Charles Gidel, ‘Étude sur une apocalypse de la Vierge Marie’, Annuaire de l’association de l’encouragement des études greques 5 (1871): 92-113. Another two editions appeared in 1893, the first in Athanasius Vasiliev, ed., Anecdota graeco-byzantina. Pars prior (Moscow: Imperial University, 1893; repr., Moscow, 1992), 125-34, and the other in Montague R. James, ed., Apocrypha Anecdota. A collection of thirteen apocryphal books and fragments, Texts and Studies 2.3 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1893), 109-26, the latter edition based on Oxford Bodleian Library MS Auct. E.5.12 (olim Misc. Greek 77).
3. See Baun, Tales from Another Byzantium, 37.