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Brian K Reynolds: Gateway to Heaven

Brian K Reynolds

Gateway to Heaven – Marian Doctrine and Devotion, Image and Typology in the Patristic and Medieval Periods (Vol. I Doctrine and Devotion)

ISBN: 9781 5654 8449 8

New City Press, 2012, 414 pp, £27.50

If, like me, you have a passionate devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary as Theotokos – as life giver to the Word Incarnate – but are slightly less comfortable with more modern (i.e. post eleventh century) articulations of Marian dogma for theological and/or feminist reasons then this book will make a valuable contribution to your thinking. In the Introduction Professor Reynolds, a linguist by profession, states that the book is a result of his wish to understand the place of Our Lady in the Christian faith. In so doing it is very clear that he has taken this challenge extremely seriously and has read exceptionally widely: the bibliography is over forty pages long of which twelve pages are devoted to primary source material, some of it ‘mainstream’ but also containing some rarer gems. Such is the breadth of Professor Reynold’s reading (which encompasses a truly awe-inspiring range of writers from Egeria, that redoubtable Religious and traveler of the fourth century to our own equally redoubtable Anthony of Padua) that Sarah Jane Boss (a theologian who has contributed greatly to our contemporary understanding of Marian theology) notes that Gateway to Heaven supercedes Hilda Graef’s Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion and the fascicle of Georg Söll in the Handbuch der Dogmengeschichte in its thoroughness – high praise indeed.

Each Chapter focuses on a different Marian doctrine and explores not only its development in the East and West but also its reception and application in a written style which is accessible without being patronising and, more importantly, without any obvious bias (Roman Catholic or Orthodox). Gateway to Heaven is an excellent book; a genuine exploration of the place of the Blessed Virgin in our faith and a must-have for any aspiring Mariologist – I hope that I might be asked to read and review Volume 2!

Joseph Emmanuel SSF