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November 16, 2007 / Daniel

Who was Mary?

The prof wants us to address this in our doctrinal statements of Christology.  I’m not sure how important it actually is.  But I thought that I would put it on the table and see what response I would get.

 Who was Mary?

1.  The God-bearer

2.  The God-bearer in respect to His humanity

3.  The Christ-bearer

4.  The Man-bearer

Let the discussion begin. 



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  1. Matthew C / Nov 16 2007 10:46 pm

    Mary was theotokos, the God bearer.

    ‘Mother of God’ is a clumsy way of putting it, but the expression is not theologically incorrect.

    To deny that Mary is theotokos is to become a Nestorian.

  2. Dennis / Nov 17 2007 4:14 am


    Are you interested in hearing the Catholic perspective?

    There is so much to Mary that it’s hard to encapsulate in one response. Here’s a quick summary.

    Mary was:

    1. Theotokos (Mother of God)
    2. The New Eve
    3. The New Ark of the Covenant
    4. Immaculately Conceived
    5. Ever Virgin
    6. Completely sinless
    7. Assumed bodily into Heaven
    8. The Queen of Heaven
    9. The Mother of the Church

    All of the above are part of Catholic doctrine/beliefs. Each one is derived from Scripture (albeit not explicitly). Please let me know if you’re interested in understanding further about any of the above points.

  3. Daniel / Nov 17 2007 3:38 pm


    Thanks for the list. I can see 1 and 2. 3, 8 and 9 make some sense. They just don’t feel quite right.

    Numbers 4-7 are pretty different for me to accept. The Scriptural evidence for these doctrines is pretty slim. They seem plainly to be a logical conclusions to Augustine’s understanding of the original sin. I tend to think that a face value reading of Scripture proposes that Mary had other children. I understand that those verses can be interpreted otherwise, but it still seems like a jump to me.

  4. Modern Day Magi / Nov 17 2007 8:49 pm

    The greatest role of Mary was to fulfill prophesy concerning the Christ.

    The coming messiah was to be born of a virgin, Mary was one. etc.

    Another important point was the Mary is the blood link to David from which Jesus can legitimately claim to be a ‘son of David’ as the scripture demands of the Messiah. Joseph’s ancestor Jechoniah was cursed by the Lord “Record this man as if childless, a man who will not prosper in his lifetime, for none of his offspring will prosper, none will sit on the throne of David or rule anymore in Judah.” – Jeremiah 22:30

    As such it is VITAL that Mary be a true descendant of David, which she was.


  5. Dennis / Nov 17 2007 10:37 pm


    I understand that these are hard concepts to believe and quite truthfully, if I weren’t Catholic, I probably would have trouble as well.

    Here are some logical–extrascriptural if you will–points to Mary having other children.

    1. Mary was the mother of Jesus.
    2. Jesus is the Son of God.
    3. As her Son and Him being God, Mary had to devote 100% of her time to Him.
    4. Having another child (or multiple children) would mean that Mary would devote less time to God-Theologically–a sin. (Imagine–“Sorry Jesus, I can’t tend to you…you’ll just have to wait…I have to take care of your little brother!!!!”)

    Upon the birth of Jesus Christ, Mary would have to devote ALL of her time to caring for Him for He was God. Joseph would have to devote ALL of his time being a father to this child who although not fully knowing He was God would know that He was someone special.

    Having another child or children is a logical impossibility. It would be sinful. Having another child would take Mary away from God.

    And being the brother of Jesus Christ would naturally cause conflict:

    –“Mom! What do you mean you love Him more than me!!!”
    –” James! Why can’t you be more like your big Brother!!!!”
    –“My brother Jesus–He thinks He’s Mr. Perfect!!!”

    Finally, if Jesus had brothers, it would have been insulting and against Jewish tradition to leave care of His mother to John at the cross.

    In regards to her Immaculate Conception and being sinless, I’ve been contemplating this a bit the last few weeks. When the Angel Gabriel addresses her, he uses a word (kecharitomene) which is only used in that instance and can be translated as “full of grace.”

    As you know, when we are void of God’s grace, we are prone to sin. Without grace, we are sinners. With grace, we are given the ability to choose God. In order to do anything for God, we must have God’s grace. Well, Mary was completely full of grace. In order for her to accept the responsibility that she did, she would have to be full of God’s grace which thus would leave her sinless. So, Christ saves her in advance…at conception. She is so completely full of God’s grace that she is completely sinless and does not bear the stain of original sin.

    Difficult concept to grasp. I don’t think most Catholics understand it and I probably didn’t do it justice.

  6. Daniel / Nov 18 2007 12:20 am


    Good point.


    Doesn’t loving God involve loving others?

  7. Dennis / Nov 18 2007 1:20 am


    Loving God involves loving others as Christ loves us. (John 15:12)

    We are called to love Christ first and let that love for Him and His love for us shine forth to others.

    Your love for Mae (and Shelley) is a reflection of God’s love for His Church. It helps you better understand how much He loves you.

    Mary’s relationship with God was different. She was obedient to Him in everything in a very real/different way. If He was hungry, she fed Him. If He was crying, she nurtured Him. She cared for God in a special way. She loved Him in a way that no other person has loved Him. She loved God the way a mother loves her son.

    If she were to have had another child (or children), her relationship with that child would either be equal or different to her relationship with God.

    She would have to be obedient to two children of with two different statuses. One who is God and one who was a creature. Moreso, when she’s caring for the other child, she’s not caring for God.

    Logically, it doesn’t make sense for her to have had more than one child. She would be in the presence of God 24 hours a day/7 days a week. She would be in awe of her child. She would be in splendor. She would have gazed adoringly at Him and say, “This is the Son of the Most High.” (Luke 1:32)

    As to why Catholics venerate her, that can be found in a couple places. I’ll stick with Luke though…in Luke 1:39-45, Mary visits Elizabeth and her infant leaped in her womb. Now Elizabeth was an older, presumably barren woman (maybe 50 or 60?) where Mary was a young woman (maybe 13 or 14?).

    What does Elizabeth say to Mary?

    “And how does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43). Note the wording. She doesn’t say, “how does this happen that my Lord should come to me?” She acknowledges the mother and then calls her blessed. This older woman looking at this young girl looks at her with reverence and says, “blessed are you …” (Luke 1:45)

    As Catholics, of course Christ always comes first but like Elizabeth, we acknowledge His mother. Why? Because what was spoken to her by the Lord would be fulfilled (Luke 1:45).

  8. Levi Michael / Nov 18 2007 1:39 pm

    (My poor listing of) the Orthodox Understanding:
    1. Theotokos (Council of Ephesus)
    2. Aeiparthenos (Council of Chalcedon)
    3. The New Eve
    4. The Ark of the Covenant
    5. Sinless Practically
    6. Queen (Mother) of Heaven
    7. Probably Bodily Assumed into Heaven
    8. Mother of the Church

  9. Daniel / Nov 20 2007 4:58 pm


    What does “aeiparthenos” mean? And what do you mean by “sinless practically”?

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