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: DL3330A

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 3

Unit discipline: Liturgy

Proposing College: St Athanasius College

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Learning outcomes


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


Engage with and compare the ecumenical practices and representations.


Evaluate the biblical and patristic texts relating to the theology of the Virgin Mary


Demonstrate critical understanding of Marian doctrines in the Coptic tradition


Analyse the liturgical and iconographical representations

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)
  • Arentzen, Thomas, and Mary B. Cunningham, eds. The Reception of the Virgin in Byzantium. Cambridge University Press, 2019.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Farkasfalvy, Denis M. The Marian Mystery: The Outline of a Mariology. St Pauls, 2014.
  • Maunder, Chris, ed. The Oxford Handbook of Mary. Oxford University Press, 2019.
  • Shoemaker, Stephen J. Mary in early Christian faith and devotion. Yale University Press, 2016. (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 2500 50.0
Essay 2500 50.0

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

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