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The Six Books Apocryphon : towards a ritual analysis Golland, Ana H.


The dormition narratives, concerned with relating the last days of Mary, seem to have emerged in the late fourth century. This thesis will focus on one example of the dormition narratives, the Syriac Six Books Apocryphon. By comparing The Six Books Apocryphon with other dormition narratives, and through analysis of the text within a ritual theoretical framework, this thesis will aim to discuss its significance and relevance as an example of marginal Christian groups, syncretism, and the diversity of Christian groups in the third to fifth centuries. It will also demonstrate the value of ritual theories for the study of religious texts. Dormition narratives are important because of what we are able to glean from them regarding the history of Christianity prior to the triumph of orthodoxy as we know it today. I find The Six Books Apocryphon particularly interesting as an example of the wide range of popular groups and beliefs in late antiquity considered heretical in nature by figures such as Epiphanius of Salamis, as well as for exploring the reasons why texts such as this and the groups that produced them remained marginal. Furthermore, this text exemplifies the syncretism that has characterized Christianity since Antiquity. For the purposes of this thesis paper, my main focus is Wright’s version of the Syriac Six Books Apocryphon, the features that render this text different from all the other dormition narratives, and what those differences can tell us about the communities in which the text was produced and used.

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