August 15 is the feast day of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary. Earlier in my blog, I posted a three part series about one of the earliest dormition stories (which includes various gnostic thought), so please check out that if you haven’t. Links at the end. With this post, I wanted to focus on the spirit of Mary after she left her body. (Take note, I personally view the soul and spirit to be different entities, but these stories present them as equals, thus I will go with that for this blog posting.) With the MidJourney A.I. artwork generator, I created the picture (above) based on the description from the Book of Mary’s Repose:
And the apostles saw Mary's spirit as it was given into Michael's hands: a perfect form, but its body was both male and female, and nevertheless one, being similar to every body and seven times white.
Very interesting androgynous description of the spirit, which makes sense. I wanted to compare this description to other stories of the dormition. Up next is from the earliest Greek Dormition narrative:
The Lord embraced her, and he took her holy soul and placed it in Michael's hands, wrapping it in indescribably splendid skins. And we, the apostles, beheld the soul of Mary as it was given into Michael's hands: it was perfect in every human form, except for the shape of male or female, with nothing being in it, except for a likeness of the complete body and a sevenfold whiteness.
The description in the early Greek narrative is pretty much the same as the Book of Mary’s Repose, except a bit more wordy. The “Ethiopic Six Books” do not describe Mary’s soul like the other two. This particular text has Mary and others saying prayers right up to her dormition. Once she passes, this is what is said:
At the time Mary's soul went forth, and he brought it to the treasuries of the Father. Then John stretched forth his hand and straightened her out and closed her eyes. Peter and Paul straightened her hands and feet, but the clothes that she was wearing did not go forth, for the Holy Spirit clothed her with a great light, which cannot be comprehended.
This next sentence is from the Golden Legend (Medieval Roman Catholic) story of Mary’s assumption.
And the apostles saw the soul of her being so white that no mortal tongue might express it.
A longer description of this comes from the sixth century Assumption of the Virgin – Latin Narrative of Pseudo-Melito :
And the apostles saw that her soul was of such whiteness, that no tongue of mortals can worthily utter it; for it surpassed all the whiteness of snow, and of every metal, and of gleaming silver, by the great brightness of its light.
Links to my review of the Book of Mary’s Repose: https://culminationofwisdom.org/2022/03/28/the-book-of-marys-repose-1-of-3/ https://culminationofwisdom.org/2022/03/28/the-book-of-marys-repose-2-of-3/ https://culminationofwisdom.org/2022/03/28/the-book-of-marys-repose-3-of-3/