Mary, Mother of God

Mary, Mother of God

Mary, Mother of God

Mary, Mother of God


Since the Council of Ephesus (a.d. 431), orthodox Christianity has confessed Mary as Theotokos, "Mother of God." Yet neither this title nor Mary's significance has fared well in Protestant Christianity. In the wake of new interest in Mary following Vatican II and recent ecumenical dialogues, this volume seeks to makes clear that Mariology is properly related to Christ and his church in ways that can and should be meaningful for all Christians. Written with insight and sensitivity by Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant scholars, these seven studies inquire into Mary's place in the story of salvation, in personal devotion, and in public worship.


Since the Council of Ephesus, A.D. 431, orthodox Christianity has confessed that Mary is the “Mother of God.” Admittedly, Mary is never called “Mother of God” in the New Testament and the title was hotly contested in the Christological controversies of the fifth century. But the title “Mother of God” seemed inevitable once the confession that Jesus is truly God — “of one substance with the Father” — was placed at the center of the faith defined at Nicaea.

Mary’s title as Mother of God has not fared well in Protestant Christianity. The vehement attack of the Reformation against the exaggerated cult of Mary in late-medieval Christianity diminished her place in the story of salvation, personal piety, and public worship. This occurred despite Luther’s high view of Mary. His Christmas meditations, exposition of the Magnificat and of the Hail Mary extol the Virgin who, faced with the role of bearing the Messiah, lived by faith alone. Luther wrote: “Men have crowded all her glory into a single word, calling her the Mother of God. … It needs to be pondered in the heart what it means to be the Mother of God…. In order to become the Mother of God, she had to be a woman, a virgin, of the tribe of Judah, and had to believe the angelic

1. Luther’s Works, vol. 21, ed. Jaroslav Pelikan (Saint Louis: Concordia, 1956), pp. 297–355.

2. Luther’s Works, vol. 43, ed. Gustav K. Wiencke (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1968), pp. 39–41.

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