There exist a variety of Christian views on Mary ranging from the focus on Marian veneration in Roman Catholic Mariology to Protestant objections, with Anglican Marian theology in between. As a field of theology, in recent centuries the most substantial developments in Mariology (and the founding of specific centers devoted to its study) have taken place within Roman Catholic Mariology, as Orthodox views on Mary have been mostly expressed in liturgy and are not subject to a central dogmatic teaching office.
A significant number of Marian publications were made in the 20th century, with theologists Raimondo Spiazzi and Gabriel Roschini achieving 2500 and 900 publications respectively. In terms of popular following, membership in Roman Catholic Marian Movements and Societies has grown significantly. Ecumenical differences continue to exist in substance and style but are easier understood because of the very existence of Mariology.
Protestant views of Mary vary from denomination to denomination. They focus generally on interpretations of Mary in the Bible, the Apostles' Creed, (which professes the virgin birth), and the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus, in 431, calling Mary the Mother of God. While some early Protestants created Marian art and allowed limited forms of Marian veneration, Protestants today do not share the veneration of Mary practiced by Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox. Martin Luther's views on Mary, John Calvin's views on Mary, Karl Barth's views on Mary and others have all formed modern Protestant views.
A better mutual understanding among different Christian groups regarding their Mariology has been sought in a number of ecumenical meetings which produced common documents.
Outside Christianity, the Islamic view of the Virgin Mary, known as Maryam in Arabic, is that she was an extremely pious and chaste woman who miraculously gave birth while still a virgin to the prophet Jesus, known in Arabic as Isa. Mary is the only woman specifically named in the Qur'an and the nineteenth chapter of the Qur'an, which is named after her, begins with two narrations of "miraculous birth", although she is not considered divine by Muslims.
Yet, as an active theological discipline, Mariology has received the larger amount of formal attention in Roman Catholic Mariology based on four dogmas on Mary which are a part of Roman Catholic theology. The Second Vatican Council document Lumen Gentium summarized the views on Roman Catholic Mariology, the focus being on the veneration of the Mother of God. Over time, Roman Catholic Mariology also received some input from Liberation Theology, which emphasizes popular Marian piety, and more recently from feminist theology, stressing both the dignity of women and gender differences.
While systematic Marian theology is not new, Pope Pius XII is credited with promoting the independent theological study of Mary on a large scale with the creation or elevation of four papal mariological research centres, e.g. the Marianum. The papal institutes were created to foster mariological research and to explain and support the Roman Catholic veneration of Mary. This new orientation was continued by Popes John XXIII, Paul VI and John Paul II with the additional creation of Pontifica Academia Mariana Internationale and Centro di Cultura Mariana, a pastoral center to promulgate Marian teachings of the Church, and, Societa Mariologica Italiana, an Italian mariological society with interdisciplinary orientation.
Some prominent theologians such as Karl Barth or Karl Rahner, in the 20th century viewed Mariology only as a part of Christology. But differences exist even within families, e.g. Hugo Rahner, the brother of Karl Rahner, disagreed and developed a Mariology based on the writers of the early Church such as Ambrose of Milan, Augustine of Hippo, and others. He sees in Mary the mother and model for the Church, a view later highlighted by the Popes Paul VI through Benedict XVI. The Wikipedia articles (listed in the template on the right) use a mainly historical approach.
The concept that by being the “Mother of God” Mary has a unique role in salvation and redemption was contemplated and written about in the early Church. In recent centuries, Roman Catholic Mariology has come to be viewed as a logical and necessary consequence of Christology: Mary contributes to a fuller understanding of who Christ is and what he did. In these views, Mariology can be derived from the Christocentric mysteries of Incarnation: Jesus and Mary are son and mother, redeemer and redeemed.
Of special importance in this context is the application of biblical hermeneutics (the analysis of synonym words for a better understanding of their meaning). Hermeneutics assists in the analysis of the relation between biblical statements on Mary, the faith of the early Christians and the Marian tradition of the Church. Because of the mother-son relation, The historical Life of Jesus Research is of obvious interest to Mariology.
In the Roman Catholic context, patrology and dogmatic history have at times provided a basis for popes to justify Marian belief, veneration and dogmas like the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption. Thus, in Fulgens Corona and Munificentissimus Deus Pope Pius XII explained these two dogmas in terms of existing biblical references to Mary, the patristic tradition, and, the strong historical faith (sensus fidelium). He employed a deductive theological method.