Assumption of the Virgin
ASSUMPTION OF THE VIRGIN. In Roman Catholic doctrine, that “privilege” of Mary by which, having completed the course of her earthly life, she was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.
Catholic Biblical scholars today readily admit that there is no explicit reference to the assumption of Mary in the NT. They will even say that neither the NT, the
Nevertheless, Pope Pius XII in his 1950 encyclical Munificentissimus Deus used his infallible teaching authority to make the dogma of the assumption de fidei for all Roman Catholics. He insisted that in some sense the Scriptures must be seen as the ultimate foundation of the dogma. Catholic Biblical scholars have thus sought implicit support for this teaching in the pages of the NT.
Mary’s assumption is broadly based on
Catholic writers today readily admit, however, that neither the NT nor any other source gives reliable information about Mary’s life after Pentecost. The assumption, they agree, is the result of pious devotion and tradition developing out of a pre-scientific interpretation of Biblical passages.
For patristic and later theological developments, and for the debate over the death of Mary (transitus Mariae), see the Bibliography.
Protestants, too, see the dogma of the assumption as a result of post-Biblical devotional piety and can even appreciate the factors which led to its rise. But no matter how much Christians may revere Mary, Protestants will insist that such a dogma should not be treated as a fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith.
Pius XII, “Munificentissimus Deus,” Catholic Mind, XLIX (January, 1951), 65-78; The Thomist, XIV (January, 1951), entire issue; J. B. Carol (ed.), Mariology, 3 vols. (1954-1961); R. Laurentin,(1956), 114-125; W. Burghardt, The Testimony of the Patristic Age Concerning Mary’s Death (1957); C. X. Friethoff, A Complete Mariology (1958), 143-164; K. Rahner, “The Interpretation of the Dogma of the Assumption,” Theological Investigations, I (1961), 215-227; K. Rahner, Mary Mother of the Lord (1963), 83-92; Thomas O’Meara, “Marian Theology and the Contemporary Problem of Myth,” Marian Studies, XV (1964), 127-156; R. Laurentin, The Question of Mary (1965); T. O’Meara, Mary in Protestant and Catholic Theology (1965), esp. 72-119; G. C. Berkouwer, The Second Vatican Council and the New Catholicism (1966); J. W. Langlinais, “Assumption of Mary,” New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967), 1:971-975.