In Mary’s Bodily Assumption, Matthew Levering presents a contemporary explanation and defense of the Catholic doctrine of Mary’s bodily Assumption. He asks: How does the Church justify a doctrine that does not have explicit biblical or first-century historical evidence to support it? With the goal of exploring this question more deeply, he divides his discussion into two sections, one historical and the other systematic.
Levering’s historical section aims to retrieve the rich Mariological doctrine of the mid-twentieth century. He introduces the development of Mariology in Catholic Magisterial documents, focusing on Pope Pius XII’s encyclical Munificentissimus Deus of 1950, in which the bodily Assumption of Mary was dogmatically defined, and two later Magisterial documents, Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium and Pope John Paul II’s Redemptoris Mater. Levering addresses the work of the neo-scholastic theologians Joseph Duhr, Aloïs Janssens, and Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange before turning to the great theologians of the nouvelle théologie —Karl Rahner, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Louis Bouyer, Joseph Ratzinger—and their emphasis on biblical typology. Using John Henry Newman as a guide, Levering organizes his systematic section by the three pillars of the doctrine on which Mary’s Assumption rests: biblical typology, the Church as authoritative interpreter of divine revelation under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the fittingness of Mary’s Assumption in relation to the other mysteries of faith.
Levering’s ecumenical contribution is a significant engagement with Protestant biblical scholars and theologians; it is also a reclamation of Mariology as a central topic in Catholic theology.
“Mary’s bodily Assumption continues to garner much disagreement, both among Protestants and Catholics, rendering a book on the topic worthwhile. This is especially so since little recent work has been done by way of careful Catholic apologetic. Matthew Levering now fills that void with Mary’s Bodily Assumption; his is a thorough, well-conceived, clearly structured, well-written book, one that displays a fair-minded approach to how he thinks we can and cannot arrive at the doctrine of the Assumption.” — Hans Boersma, J. I. Packer Professor of Theology, Regent College
“Combining observations based in typological exegesis, systematic theology, and magisterial teaching, Levering provides a well-argued explanation of, and justification for, the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary . . . . Levering provides a solid basis for further ecumenical conversation.” — Choice
“In taking up Catholic teaching on the Assumption, Levering engages in a theological development that touches on Scripture, magisterial teaching, critical scholarship and objections in a manner that speaks to theological process and faith development. The mind is enlightened and the heart inspired in this work that provides a solid basis for understanding the Church’s dogmatic teaching that Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven.” — The Catholic Journalist
“. . . Levering sheds welcome light on a variety of topics, from biblical hermeneutics to eschatology. Above all, Levering comes across as an able champion of typological exegesis, which forms the basis for the dogma of Mary’s Assumption.” — Catholic Library World
“Levering’s unbiased approach and his admittance of misinterpretations from Catholics render this book appealing and an asset to ecumenical dialogue. The author’s hope is that the doctrine of Mary’s Assumption will further illumine our Christian understanding of the eschaton.” — Church Life Journal
“Levering . . . has written a beautiful book which takes into account the two demurring sources about Mary’s assumption. Levering argues clearly and convincingly that belief in Mary’s assumption, body, and soul into heaven rests on three ‘scriptural pillars.’. . . Her destiny prefigures the destiny of all who believe in her son. The author obviously would think it was impoverishing not to have this belief as part of one’s faith.” — Theological Studies
First Place Award in Theology in 2015, Catholic Press Association