ART: The Tao of Mary: Images of the Virgin in the Church of the East

The Jesus Sutras are an extraordinary series of documents that have yet to be fully considered by those who explore the terrain between Buddhism, Taoism, and Christianity. Written in China’s Tang Dynasty by Church of the East Christians who transposed the Gospel into a Taoist and Buddhist key, these documents make much of the Virgin Mary, even while the Christians who wrote them officially demurred from the doctrine of Mary as “Theotokos” (Mother of God), defined at the Council of Ephesus in 431CE. Departing from the way the Jesus Sutras have affected my classroom at a Christian college, this talk looks specifically at visual evidence for Marian devotion by the community that wrote the Jesus Sutras, and describes my experience worshipping with Church of the East Christians, many of whom reside in the Chicago area today.