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date: 29 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter provides a cultural rather than a theological reading of the Annunciation story, locating it historically from its beginnings in Luke to the pre-Enlightenment, and then, by interrogating that history, speculating about why for a millennium and a half (and beyond), the Gospel’s story of Gabriel’s appearance to Mary (Luke 1: 26–38) has had such a powerful hold over the Western imagination. The early modern period saw the discovery of multiple versions of the Annunciation story, and from Ersamus onwards, the emergence of critical history calling into question the historicity of the Gospel accounts.

Keywords: Annunciation, Baroque, Counter-Reformation, feminist theology, Medieval drama, Reformation, representation, scopophilia, Shakespeare, Virgin Mary

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