Saturday, July 24, 2021

Early Marian Veneration

So, when did Marian veneration begin?

The earliest record we have of something approach Marian veneration is this:

Luke 11:27

And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked.

Jesus responded:

28 But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

I don't think this was a turn of phrase especially created for Mary, but presumably rather a general blessing of mothers for having offspring (particularly notable offspring).  Jesus turns it on its head later in Luke:

Luke 23:28-19 But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.

Jesus response of curbing excessive reverence of his mother is similarly illustrated in Matthew 12

Matthew 12:46-50

While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him.  Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.  But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?  And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!  For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

Notice the common theme in both Matthew and Luke of Jesus promoting a different priority.

Was there early veneration of Mary?  Undoubtedly there was.  We know of the sect of the Collyridians, for example, whose worship of Mary was condemned by orthodox Christians of the time.  Epiphanius of Salamis, writing in the late fourth century speaks of them, presumably as contemporaries to him.

Ultimately, though, it is sufficient that the practice lacks New Testament warrant or positive example.  

Sometimes it is alleged that this is because Mary was still living during the time when the New Testament was composed.  This should puzzle anyone who bought the argument that veneration of the dead is the same asking living people to pray for them.  It also presumes we know when Mary died, which we don't.  No one knows when she died.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Early Marian Prayers?

 Continuing the series (first response)(second response) of responses to an article about allegedly early veneration of Mary (link to original article), we now examine some alleged early prayers to Mary.  I will quote the post author and then provide my additional comments.

1) Sub Tuum Praesidium

The Sub Tuum Praesidium petitions: “O Mother of God: do not despise our petitions in time of trouble: but rescue us from dangers, only pure, only blessed one.”

I certainly agree that the STP is an example of early Marian devotion.  I don't agree with the idea that this prayer is particularly early.  It uses the term "Theotokos," which was in popular use to describe Mary only after Nicaea.  So, this is presumably a fourth century or later prayer.  It's origin is not known, although it was eventually adopted for use in many otherwise orthodox churches (along with other inappropriate worship).

2) Anaphoras of Coptic/Egyptian Basil

The Anaphoras of Coptic/Egyptian Basil in its oldest Sahidic manuscript has the following within a Litany: “…the holy and glorious Mary, Theotokos (Mother of God), and by her prayers have mercy on us all…” This work is dated by Anglican scholars to be “at least three hundred years older” than the mid-seventh century (Cuming and Jasper 1990, 67) and “the early fourth century” by the most recent scholarly treatment of the subject. (Shoemaker 2016, 231)

As with the STP, this dates to the fourth century at the earliest.  On top of that, it is puzzling why we would resort to a prayer of a church that is not orthodox by Orthodox standards.

3) Gospel of Bartholomew

The Gospel of Bartholomew contains a short prayer in an apocryphal context: “Bartholomew raised his voice and said thus: ‘O womb more spacious than a city, wider than the spreading of the heavens, that contained him whom the seven heavens contain not, but thou without pain didst contain sanctified in thy bosom!’” (4:17 in Vienna Manuscript)

This initially puzzled me, because the Gospel of Bartholomew is the name of a lost apocryphal work.  It is, however, also an alternative name of the Questions of Bartholomew (not lost), from which the quotation comes.  The work is (best scholarly guess) a fifth century Greek work.   By then, of course, Marian veneration was flourishing in many places.

2) Grotto of Jerusalem Graffiti

The Grotto of Jerusalem has a graffiti that has survived the test of time which states, “Under the holy place of M[ary?] I wrote there the [names?], the image I adored of her.” One source states that “the grotto can be interpreted, according to Bagatti, as an indication of an image of Mary.” (Bigham 2004, 101)

This is the most obscure of the group.  Bigham identifies the location as the Grotto of the Annunciation (which is in Nazareth).  It's hard to date wall writing, but the floor is evidently dated to around the 5th or 6th century.  I am not sure if any expert has opined on the date of the wall writing: Bigham doesn't seem to be interested in the precise date.

In short, however, none of these provide evidence of early Marian veneration.

Does Ode of Solomon 19 Evidence Early Christian Veneration of Mary?

In a previous post (link), we demonstrated an error that alleged veneration of Mary in Psalm 45.  The same author (link to post) argued that Ode of Solomon 19 provides an example of early Christian veneration of Mary.  On the other hand, while the Odes of Solomon are certainly "Christian" in some sense, they are not orthodox (nor Orthodox, for that matter).  They seem to have a Gnostic origin, as evidenced in Ode of Solomon 19, by statements about the Father having breasts that give milk and Mary giving birth "as if she were a man."  There are other reasons to identify the writing as Gnostic, as distinct from Christian, but suffice to say that it is a bizarre writing on a Christian theme.

Is it veneration of Mary?  It doesn't explicitly venerate Mary.  Nevertheless, it is a poem (presumably intended to be sung) partly about Mary.  It may have been intended to be used in worship, though presumably not in a Christian church (one is hard pressed to find early liturgies with space for human compositions). 

On the other hand, while the poem mentions Mary, and she's an important figure in it, it is not primarily about her, does not address her, nor otherwise exalts or extols her in any obvious way.  It seems to simply describe her and her actions with respect to Jesus' birth.

In short, if this is one of the supposedly best examples of early Christian veneration of Mary, it falls far short.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

The Queen in Psalm 45

I recently came across an argument asserting that there is veneration of Mary in Psalm 45 (Septuagint Psalm 44).  I thought it might be interesting to get a Patristic take on this.  In particular, the first part of the argument is that the Queen in Psalm 45 is Mary.  I could not find a single patristic source to support that interpretation.  The two interpretations I found were the church (which I believe is the correct interpretation) and the human nature of Christ.  The "Ancient Christian Commentary" set also mentions that Basil and Jerome identify the Queen as the soul.  

The author of the argument does not provide any patristic support for his seemingly novel interpretation.  Instead he argues (original post here) as follows (bracketed letters are added by me for ease of reference below):
[A] Not surprisingly, there is a clear, Biblical example of veneration being paid to the Theotokos—provided one takes a Christological interpretation of Ps 44 (LXX)/45 (MT). Take a moment to open your Bible so you can follow along.

[B] The Psalm itself, at least on the surface, is about a King and his Queen. We must have a Christological interpretation, however. Ps 45:6-7 is clearly identified as pertaining to Jesus Christ by Saint Paul in Heb 1:8-9. So, the King is Jesus Christ.

[C] Who is the Queen? Let’s start unpacking the Psalm:

[D] The King has at His “right hand…the Queen.” (Ps 45:9) He also has “daughters.” These are clearly in reference to different people. We know that standing at both Jesus Christ’s left and right hands is not for Him to grant, but the Father. (Mark 10:40) So, for the Queen to be at the King’s right hand is a serious position to be in. A simple interpretation, that the Queen is solely the Church, is insufficient. Who are the King’s daughters given such a reading?

[E] Who is actually at God’s right hand? Orthodox tradition has taught that it is the Theotokos. This Queen is “greatly desired” for her spiritual “beauty.” (Ps 45:11) This is highly similar to Mary who is “blessed among women” (Luke 1:28), which means due to her exceptional holiness she “found favor with God” (Luke 1:30). It is reasonable to presume the one who is blessed among women will have a special standing with God.

[F] The Psalm then addresses the Queen directly: “[T]he daughter of Tyre will come with a gift, the rich among the people will seek your favor.” (Ps 45:12) If the Queen is merely the Church, why is she being paid homage and sought for favor herself? In the Scriptures, the nations are usually bringing gifts to God. (cf Is 66:20) The most likely explanation is that “the daughter of Tyre” represents the gentiles paying dulia (“a gift”) and “the people” seeking favor are the faithful asking for Mary’s intercession in prayer.

[G] As a brief aside, asking a glorified saint for prayer is not idolatry anymore than asking any righteous person for prayer. The Scriptures are clear that the saints pray for the living in heaven, such as the martyrs praying to God for an end of persecution. (Rev 6:10; cf Rev 8:3) Furthermore, the saints hear our prayers, as evidenced by Elisha knowing what Gehazi was up to when he asked for money from Naaman: “Did not my heart go with you when the man turned back from his chariot to meet you?” (2 Kings 5:26) There is no Biblical precedent for not asking a saint for intercession, which is perhaps why the Jews legitimately confused Jesus Christ quoting Ps 21 LXX/PS 22 MT as calling upon the Prophet Elijah for intercession. (Matt 27:47) Not surprisingly, third and fourth century AD Talmudic sources make clear that Jews had veneration practices including prostrations at the grave sites of the patriarchs and asking for the deceased for prayer. (Bar-Llan 2004)

[H] And so, the Psalm can easily be read in the preceding light in verse 12 as well as other verses. Verse 14 states, “The virgins, her companions who follow her, shall be brought to You.” Clearly, if the Queen is merely the Church, this passage does not make sense as the virgins are clearly the Church as they are brought to God. Interestingly, they “follow her.” This seems to be another obvious reference to the Church’s veneration of the Theotokos bringing them closer to God—literally “brought” into “the King’s palace.” (Ps 45:15)

[I] The Psalm ends with God promising the Queen:

I will make your name to be remembered in all generations; Therefore, the people shall praise you forever and ever. (Ps 45:17)

[J] Due to Hebrew and Greek lacking capitalization, some may conjecture verse 17 switches its subject from the Queen back to the King. However, this Psalm appears to be echoed by the Theotokos’ own lips:

For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. (Luke 1:48)

[K] In any event, being that Ps 45 was understood as typological and prophetic in the first century, it would make sense that the references to the Queen would be typologically understood to apply to the Theotokos—as this would be the simplest explanation of the Psalm if one were to try to maintain consistency between the types.
You may note that the author repeatedly asserts that things are "clear" ([A], [B], [D], [G]x2, and [H]x2).  His first such claim, found in [A], is that there is a "clear, Biblical example of veneration being paid to the Theotokos—provided one takes a Christological interpretation of Ps 44 (LXX)/45 (MT)."  The author is using "MT" to refer to Masoretic Text as distinct from the Septuagint (LXX).  The numbering of the psalms is slightly different between the two texts.  The fathers typically used the Septuagint numbering.  The only specific reference to a psalm number in the New Testament is to Psalm 2 (Acts 13:33), which is before the first split between MT and LXX occurs (MT Psalms 9 and 10 are LXX Psalm 9).  The claim is that Psalm 45 (Septuagint Psalm 44) provides an example of Marian devotion.

I was curious whether patristic consideration of the passage included any identification between the Queen and Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  As mentioned above, the two interpretations I found were the church (which I believe is the correct interpretation) and the human nature of Christ.  The "Ancient Christian Commentary" set also mentions that Basil and Jerome identify the Queen as the soul.

Here are some examples of the patristic material: 

Justin Martyr, Dialog with Trypho, Chapter 53
And speaking in other words, which also have been already quoted, [he says]: ‘Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of rectitude is the sceptre of Thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hast hated iniquity: therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows. [He hath anointed Thee] with myrrh, and oil, and cassia from Thy garments, from the ivory palaces, whereby they made Thee glad. Kings’ daughters are in Thy honour. The queen stood at Thy right hand, clad in garments embroidered with gold. Hearken, O daughter, and behold, and incline thine ear, and forget thy people and the house of thy father; and the King shall desire thy beauty: because he is thy Lord, and thou shalt worship Him.’ Therefore these words testify explicitly that He is witnessed to by Him who established these things, as deserving to be worshipped, as God and as Christ. Moreover, that the word of God speaks to those who believe in Him as being one soul, and one synagogue, and one church, as to a daughter; that it thus addresses the church which has sprung from His name and partakes of His name (for we are all called Christians), is distinctly proclaimed in like manner in the following words, which teach us also to forget [our] old ancestral customs, when they speak thus: ‘Hearken, O daughter, and behold, and incline thine ear; forget thy people and the house of thy father, and the King shall desire thy beauty: because He is thy Lord, and thou shalt worship Him.’ ”

Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, Book VI, Chapter XI
Such David describes the Church: “The queen stood on thy right hand, enveloped in a golden robe, variegated;” and with Hellenic and superabundant accomplishments, “clothed variegated with gold-fringed garments.” And the Truth says by the Lord, “For who had known Thy counsel, hadst Thou not given wisdom, and sent Thy Holy Spirit from the Highest; and so the ways of those on earth were corrected, and men learned Thy decrees, and were saved by wisdom?” For the Gnostic knows things ancient by the Scripture, and conjectures things future: he understands the involutions of words and the solutions of enigmas. He knows beforehand signs and wonders, and the issues of seasons and periods, as we have said already. Seest thou the fountain of instructions that takes its rise from wisdom? But to those who object, What use is there in knowing the causes of the manner of the sun’s motion, for example, and the rest of the heavenly bodies, or in having studied the theorems of geometry or logic, and each of the other branches of study?—for these are of no service in the discharge of duties, and the Hellenic philosophy is human wisdom, for it is incapable of teaching the truth—the following remarks are to be made. First, that they stumble in reference to the highest of things—namely, the mind’s free choice. “For they,” it is said, “who keep holy holy things, shall be made holy; and those who have been taught will find an answer.” For the Gnostic alone will do holily, in accordance with reason all that has to be done, as he hath learned through the Lord’s teaching, received through men.

Methodius, Banquet of the Ten Virgins; or Concerning Chastity, Procilla, The Human Nature of Christ His One Dove, Chapter VIII

Can any one now say otherwise than that the Bride is the undefiled flesh of the Lord, for the sake of which He left the Father and came down here, and was joined to it, and, being incarnate, dwelt in it? Therefore He called it figuratively a dove, because that creature is tame and domestic, and readily adapts itself to man’s mode of life. For she alone, so to speak, was found spotless and undefiled, and excelling all in the glory and beauty of righteousness, so that none of those who had pleased God most perfectly could stand near to her in a comparison of virtue. And for this reason she was thought worthy to become a partaker of the kingdom of the Only-begotten, being betrothed and united to Him. And in the forty-fourth psalm, the queen who, chosen out of many, stands at the right hand of God, clothed in the golden ornament of virtue, whose beauty the King desired, is, as I said, the undefiled and blessed flesh, which the Word Himself carried into the heavens, and presented at the right hand of God, “wrought about with divers colours,” that is, in the pursuits of immortality, which he calls symbolically golden fringes. For since this garment is variegated and woven of various virtues, as chastity, prudence, faith, love, patience, and other good things, which, covering, as they do, the unseemliness of the flesh, adorn man with a golden ornament.

Methodius, Banquet of the Ten Virgins; or Concerning Chastity, Procilla, The Virgins Immediately After the Queen and Spouse, Chapter IX

Moreover, we must further consider what the Spirit delivers to us in the rest of the psalm, after the enthronization of the manhood assumed by the Word at the right hand of the Father. “The virgins,” He says, “that be her fellows shall bear her company, and shall be brought unto thee. With joy and gladness shall they be brought, and shall enter into the King’s palace.” Now, here the Spirit seems quite plainly to praise virginity, next, as we have explained, to the Bride of the Lord, who promises that the virgins shall approach second to the Almighty with joy and gladness, guarded and escorted by angels. For so lovely and desirable is in truth the glory of virginity, that, next to the Queen, whom the Lord exalts, and presents in sinless glory to the Father, the choir and order of virgins bear her company, assigned to a place second to that of the Bride. Let these efforts of mine to speak to thee, O Arete, concerning chastity, be engraven on a monument.

Augustine, City of God, Christian Doctrine, The history of the city of God from Noah to the time of the kings of Israel, of the Things Pertaining to Christ and the Church, Said Either Openly or Tropically in the 45th Psalm, Chapter 16

Then let him look upon His Church, joined to her so great Husband in spiritual marriage and divine love, of which it is said in these words which follow, “The queen stood upon Thy right hand in gold-embroidered vestments, girded about with variety. Hearken, O daughter, and look, and incline thine ear; forget also thy people, and thy father’s house. Because the King hath greatly desired thy beauty; for He is the Lord thy God. And the daughters of Tyre shall worship Him with gifts; the rich among the people shall entreat Thy face. The daughter of the King has all her glory within, in golden fringes, girded about with variety. The virgins shall be brought after her to the King: her neighbors shall be brought to Thee. They shall be brought with gladness and exultation: they shall be led into the temple of the King. Instead of thy fathers, sons shall be born to thee: thou shalt establish them as princes over all the earth. They shall be mindful of thy name in every generation and descent. Therefore shall the people acknowledge thee for evermore, even for ever and ever.” I do not think any one is so stupid as to believe that some poor woman is here praised and described, as the spouse, to wit, of Him to whom it is said, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a rod of direction is the rod of Thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity: therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of exultation above Thy fellows;” that is, plainly, Christ above Christians. For these are His fellows, out of the unity and concord of whom in all nations that queen is formed, as it is said of her in another psalm, “The city of the great King.” The same is Sion spiritually, which name in Latin is interpreted speculatio (discovery); for she descries the great good of the world to come, because her attention is directed thither. In the same way she is also Jerusalem spiritually, of which we have already said many things. Her enemy is the city of the devil, Babylon, which is interpreted “confusion.” Yet out of this Babylon this queen is in all nations set free by regeneration, and passes from the worst to the best King,—that is, from the devil to Christ. Wherefore it is said to her, “Forget thy people and thy father’s house.” Of this impious city those also are a portion who are Israelites only in the flesh and not by faith, enemies also of this great King Himself, and of His queen. For Christ, having come to them, and been slain by them, has the more become the King of others, whom He did not see in the flesh. Whence our King Himself says through the prophecy of a certain psalm, “Thou wilt deliver me from the contradictions of the people; Thou wilt make me head of the nations. A people whom I have not known hath served me: in the hearing of the ear it hath obeyed me.” Therefore this people of the nations, which Christ did not know in His bodily presence, yet has believed in that Christ as announced to it; so that it might be said of it with good reason, “In the hearing of the ear it hath obeyed me,” for “faith is by hearing.” This people, I say, added to those who are the true Israelites both by the flesh and by faith, is the city of God, which has brought forth Christ Himself according to the flesh, since He was in these Israelites only. For thence came the Virgin Mary, in whom Christ assumed flesh that He might be man. Of which city another psalm says, “Mother Sion, shall a man say, and the man is made in her, and the Highest Himself hath founded her.” Who is this Highest, save God? And thus Christ, who is God, before He became man through Mary in that city, Himself founded it by the patriarchs and prophets. As therefore was said by prophecy so long before to this queen, the city of God, what we already can see fulfilled, “Instead of thy fathers, sons are born to thee; thou shall make them princes over all the earth;” so out of her sons truly are set up even her fathers [princes] through all the earth, when the people, coming together to her, confess to her with the confession of eternal praise for ever and ever. Beyond doubt, whatever interpretation is put on what is here expressed somewhat darkly in figurative language, ought to be in agreement with these most manifest things.

Pope John Paul II (link to October 6, 2004, General Audience) had this to say:
5. Many Fathers of the Church, as is well known, interpreted the portrait of the queen by applying it to Mary, from the very first words of the appeal: "Listen, O daughter, give ear..." (v. 11). This also happens, for example, in the Homily on the Mother of God by Chrysippus of Jerusalem. He was a Cappadocian who was part of the monks who founded the monastery of St Euthymius in Palestine. He became a priest and was the custodian of the Holy Cross in the Basilica of Anastasius in Jerusalem.

"My discourse is addressed to you", he says, turning to Mary, "to you who must go as bride to the great sovereign; to you I address my discourse, to you who are about to conceive the Word of God in the way that he knows.... "Listen, O daughter, give ear to my words'; indeed, the auspicious announcement of the world's redemption is coming true. Listen, and what you will hear will gladden your heart.... "Forget your own people and your father's house': pay no attention to your earthly parents, for you will be transformed into a heavenly queen. And "listen', he says, "to how much the One who is Creator and Lord of all things loves you'. Indeed, the "king', he says, "will desire your beauty'; the Father himself will take you as bride; the Holy Spirit will arrange all the conditions that are necessary for these nuptials.... Do not believe you will give birth to a human child, "for he is your Lord and you will adore him'. Your Creator has become your child; you will conceive and with all the others, you will worship him as your Lord" (Marian texts of the first millennium, I, Rome, 1988, pp. 605-606).
This relatively obscure presbyter from the fifth century may indeed provide an example of an interpretation that lines up with the author.  One such writer does not equate to "Many Fathers of the Church," and unfortunately I have not found the time to check the context or translation (I think that the English text above is a translation into English either directly from the Italian of the book published in 1988, or from whatever language JP2 used for his general audience, and that, in turn, is a translation of Greek that was published based on a single late Greek manuscript).  

What about the argument itself?

As to [B], I agree with the author that the King is Jesus.  I further agree that this interpretation is divinely taught by Hebrews 1:8 (although identifying Paul as the author of Hebrews seems strained at best).

As to [D], the extent to which the "Queen" image should be taken as part of the picture is not necessarily free from difficulty.  The most natural association is the one that was favored by several patristic authors, namely the church.  The church is the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5).  

The author states, "He also has “daughters.”"  I assume this is just a misreading of the text.  Psalm 45 refers to "daughters," but these are "kings' daughters," the daughters of multiple kings (i.e. a collection of princesses from various families).  

The meaning of the reference to kings' daughters is a little obscure.  The Septuagint groups it with the previous verse, such that all the luxuries there mentioned are given to the King by these princesses.  Possibly, the illustration here would be royal concubines.  

The author goes on: "A simple interpretation, that the Queen is solely the Church, is insufficient. Who are the King’s daughters given such a reading?"  Setting aside that they are not the King's own daughters, it is remarkable to see the overwhelming weight of patristic authority set aside so easily.  Who are the daughters of the kings?  It might seem simple, but the simplest answer may be that they are not the church.  They may simply be a description of the kind of Solomonic opulence and ancient near eastern luxury that would have been understood to accompany a significant and wealthy king (as opposed the king of some small village or insignificant tribe).

As to [E], the author provides no source for the assertion: "Who is actually at God’s right hand? Orthodox tradition has taught that it is the Theotokos."  There is no citation for this alleged tradition.  There is Orthodox tradition (because it is Biblical) that Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father.  There is also Orthodox tradition of placement of icons, such that those of Jesus are always on the right and those of Mary are always on the left, within the context of church buildings.  Typical icons of Mary and Jesus together typically show an infant (or infant-sized adult) Jesus in one or the other arm of Mary.  

I will not say definitively that there is no such tradition, as traditions are numerous, and I am only a student of Orthodoxy.  That said, the weight of any such tradition as an argument seems small.

The author continues: "This Queen is “greatly desired” for her spiritual “beauty.” (Ps 45:11) This is highly similar to Mary who is “blessed among women” (Luke 1:28), which means due to her exceptional holiness she “found favor with God” (Luke 1:30). It is reasonable to presume the one who is blessed among women will have a special standing with God."  So many responses are needed.

First, it does say that the King will greatly desire the Queen for her beauty.  The literal sense of this meaning, of course, is one of physical attraction.  The point is that the King loves the Queen: this is not a marriage of political convenience (despite the Queen being herself a princess), but one of passion.

Second, "blessed among women" nor "found favor with God" both indicate that God's blessing and favor were given to Mary, not that she merited them through exceptional holiness.  Moreover, the same term translated "blessed" in "blessed among women" is also found in Ephesians, where it refers to all believers, namely the Church:   Ephesians 1:6 "To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved."

Third, "have a special standing with God," was clearly fulfilled by -- and this should surprise absolutely no one who is even moderately familiar with the gospels -- Mary carrying Jesus to full term and delivering him, as well as serving in a motherly role to him during most of his earthly life.  There is not, however, any reason to jump from there to some additional special standing.

At [F], we finally come to the crux of the argument.  The author writes: "If the Queen is merely the Church, why is she being paid homage and sought for favor herself?"

The text states: "And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift; even the rich among the people shall intreat thy favour."  Tyre was a place associated with wealth.  Moreover, Hiram of Tyre was a friend of Solomon. In Isaiah 23:11, Tyre is "the crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the honourable of the earth."  The gift and the "intreat ... favor" are parallel expressions: people would bring gifts to kings to ask them for favors in return.  The idea that the princess of the wealthiest nearby nation would come with a gift to ask for a favor is a statement about the wealth and power of the King and Queen.  They are not struggling monarchs.  This is a happy, successful, and prosperous marriage.  If the implication is that they come to her before the wedding, it is, of course, because of her association with the King that she's about to marry.  The same applies to the "the rich among the people."  Normally it is the poor that need help from the rich, but when the rich need help, they have to come to the next level up.

The author states: "In the Scriptures, the nations are usually bringing gifts to God. (cf Is 66:20)"  While this may be true, it makes sense that the gifts would be coming to the married couple, given that he's a King.  On the other hand, "usually bringing gifts to God" is an argument in favor of the Queen being God, not the Queen being Mary.  In any event, "usually" isn't a very compelling argument, particularly if we both agree that the recipient isn't God.

The author continues: "The most likely explanation is that “the daughter of Tyre” represents the gentiles paying dulia (“a gift”) and “the people” seeking favor are the faithful asking for Mary’s intercession in prayer."  First, a gift would be doron, not dulia.  Second, the better explanation (as already explained above) is that the focus here is on wealthy people asking for favors, thereby illustrating the political and/or social superiority of the King and Queen.  It's a status symbol.

It's not a symbol of prayer.  And without this, the main argument for veneration of Mary in Psalm 45 falls apart.

As to [G], if you don't understand the difference between having a conversation with a living person who speaks your language and praying to a dead person who didn't speak your language in her life, it may be hard to explain the difference.  Bottom line is that there is no Biblical teaching to engage in such a practice.

As to [H], the author insists that the virgins are "clearly the church."  On the other hand, the Church is the bride of Christ, like the Queen in this Psalm.  The Church is not concubines nor the virgins in the royal family (Compare Song of Solomon 6:8-9).  More significantly, Mary was Jesus' Mom, not his wife.

As to [I], no, the words in Psalm 45:17 are to the King.  

Psalm 45:17
I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever.

Exodus 3:15
And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, the Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.

Psalm 135:13
Thy name, O Lord, endureth for ever; and thy memorial, O Lord, throughout all generations.

And the passages are too numerous in the Psalms alone to mention all the cases in which praise is offered by the people to God.  

As to [J], saying that God blessed Mary is not praising Mary.  I'm not sure how this is so confusing.

As to [K], as already explained above, this conclusion isn't justified.