This unit will explore the understanding of the Virgin Mary in ecclesiology, Christology, iconography, and liturgy within the Coptic tradition. A critical engagement with scripture through a patristic lens will be developed to understand the Virgin Mary’s position in the Christian tradition throughout the centuries. Students will examine Marian doctrines as observed and expressed in Copto-Arabic literature as well as reappraise the liturgical tradition and practice surrounding Mary in the ancient, medieval, and modern Coptic tradition.

Unit code: DL9330A

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit discipline: Liturgy

Proposing College: St Athanasius College

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Learning outcomes


Evaluate the Coptic church`s teaching and its understanding of the Virgin Mary


Critically analyse and compare the ecumenical practices and representations.


Critically evaluate the biblical and patristic texts relating to the theology of the Virgin Mary


Demonstrate a capacity to research a specific topic in a critically rigorous, sustained and self-directed manner.


Assess critically the liturgical and iconographical representations in various traditions.

Unit sequence

Prerequisite: 1xCT or DL unit.


Asynchronous and synchronous lectures and tutorials

Indicative Bibliography

  • Awad, Magdi Rashidi Beshai. Untersuchungen zur koptischen Psalmodie: christologische und liturgische Aspekte. Vol. 41. LIT Verlag Münster, 2007. (Excerpt translation provided in lecture material)
  • Awad, Magdi. "Η Θεία Ευχαριστία και η σωτηριολογική σημασία της στην κοπτική λειτουργική και θεολογική παράδοση." PhD diss., Αριστοτέλειο Πανεπιστήμιο Θεσσαλονίκης (ΑΠΘ). Σχολή Θεολογική. Τμήμα Θεολογίας, 2004. (Excerpt translation provided in lecture material)
  • Arentzen, Thomas, and Mary B. Cunningham, eds. The Reception of the Virgin in Byzantium. Cambridge University Press, 2019.
  • Brubaker, Leslie, and Mary B. Cunningham, eds. The cult of the Mother of God in Byzantium: Texts and images. Vol. 11. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2011.
  • Constas, Nicholas. Proclus of Constantinople and the cult of the Virgin in late antiquity: homilies 1-5, texts and translations. Brill, 2002.
  • Cunningham, Mary B., trans. Wider than Heaven: Eighth- Century Homilies on the Mother of God. New York: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2008.
  • Cyril of Alexandria. Against Those Who Are Unwilling to Confess That the Holy Virgin Is Theotokos. Edited by George Dion Dragas. New Hampshire: Orthodox Research Institute, 2004.
  • Farkasfalvy, Denis M. The Marian Mystery: The Outline of a Mariology. St Pauls, 2014.
  • Gambero, Luigi. Mary and the Fathers of the Church: The Blessed Virgin Mary in Patristic Thought. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1999.
  • Himmelfarb, Gertrude. Mary Through the Centuries. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017.
  • Khodr, George. "The Mother of God, the Theotokos, and her role in God's plan for our salvation." The Ecumenical Review 60, no. 1-2 (2008): 29-35.
  • Malaty, Tadros. Saint Mary in the orthodox concept. Egypt: St. George Coptic Church, 1978.
  • Maunder, Chris, ed. The Oxford Handbook of Mary. Oxford University Press, 2019.
  • McGuckin, John Anthony. The Harp of Glory: Enzira Sebhat: An Alphabetical Hymn of Praise for the Ever-blessed Virgin Mary from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2010.
  • Shoemaker, Stephen J. Mary in early Christian faith and devotion. Yale University Press, 2016. (Available in library hub)
  • Shoemaker, Stephen J. Ancient Traditions of the Virgin Mary's Dormition and Assumption. Oxford University Press on Demand, 2002. (Available in library hub)
  • Vassilaki, Maria, ed. Images of the Mother of God: Perceptions of the Theotokos in Byzantium. Routledge, 2017.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Essay 40000 50.0
Essay 40000 50.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Maggie Kappelhoff on 26 Jul, 2021

Unit record last updated: 2021-07-27 09:49:11 +1000