Perceptions of the Mother of God have always reflected theological and pastoral concerns of Orthodox theologians and thinkers in Byzantium and beyond. Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh, one of the emblematic figures of the Russian Diaspora, treats the Virgin in a way that reflects the main concerns of his generation, marked by the political developments in Russia in the beginning of the twentieth century and the subsequent movement of the Russian Diaspora. The hardship of the loss of their homeland and the harsh reality of poverty, as well as the two world wars, greatly influenced the theological approach of Metropolitan Anthony and his generation. In his talks and homilies, Anthony of Sourozh focuses on the human person cut off from the community and its rituals. He speaks about the encounter of the individual with God on a one-to-one basis. He refers extensively to the agony man experiences when faced with the silence of God. He sees the Virgin as the model of the obedient but not passive disciple, the model of the dynamic surrender to God in freedom and sorrowful joy. Anthony’s approach to the Mother of God is paralleled and compared to that of Gregory Palamas, who in the fourteenth century saw Mary as the model of perfect Hesychast.
The Apocalypse of the Holy Theotokos, first edited from a single manuscript in 1866, has only recently become available in an English translation and commentary. However, the work enjoyed enormous popularity in the later Byzantine period of the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries, when the Greek text was translated into almost a dozen other languages. An equally popular work of the mid-tenth century was the Vision of Anastasia. This paper considers Mary’s role in the two Apocalypses of the ninth to eleventh centuries in the broader context of Byzantine apocalypticism of the period. In particular, I focus on Mary’s role as a selective intercessor for Christian souls in torment, but not Jews. The increasing recognition of Mary’s humanity in the cult of the Theotokos (Mother of God) emerges as the justification for her discrimination against those who were perceived as the murderers of her son.
This paper examines the in-depth way Nicholas Cabasilas assimilated Palamite Hesychastic theological anthropology, transforming it into a Mariological humanism of theological provenance, which responds to the humanism of the Western Renaissance. Then it compares it with an analogous tendency in Bulgakov’s thought, putting this theological humanism in dialogue with the self-sufficient humanism of the post-modern kingdom of man.
This study attempts to analyse the narrative function and the theological significance of Jesus’ mother for the overall theology of the fourth gospel, mainly based on the exegetical method of narrative criticism. In the first part, the problem of the anonymity of Jesus’ mother in juxtaposition with the anonymity of the beloved disciple is dealt with. The second part consists of a detailed exegetical approach to the narrative of Jesus’ first sign in Cana within the Johannine narrative context as a whole. On this basis, in the third part a response to further relevant questions about the significance of Jesus’ mother according to the overall fourth gospel’s witness is attempted. The article is concluded with a summary of exegetical and theological positions, including a hypothesis about a possible Johannine background of the current Orthodox understanding of Theotokos.
This article examines the connection between Mary, the Mother of God, and a transfigured natural world, as depicted in Byzantine liturgical texts and experienced in the lives of Orthodox Christians. Although these two aspects of Marian devotion may seem unrelated, they both reinforce the Virgin Mary’s theological role as the meeting-place between the divine and created spheres. Byzantine hymnography and homiletics use typology not only to express Mary’s role as the receptive creation into which God entered, but also to convey a sacramental meaning specifically linking the Theotokos with the mysteries of baptism and the Eucharist. More tangible reminders of her link with the material elements that play a part in spiritual renewal and healing can be found in the shrines, often endowed with miraculous pools and springs, that existed in medieval Constantinople. Both formal liturgical and popular association of the Theotokos with a transfigured creation thus reinforced her role as Christians’ main intercessor before God in the Byzantine world.
Much of the hymnography and the tradition surrounding the Dormition of the Theotokos have been based on a passage from the Divine Names of Dionysios the Areopagite, which includes the phrase ζωαρχικόν καὶ θεοδόχον σῶμα. This phrase was read by John of Scythopolis as a reference to the Dormition, and subsequent scholarship never questioned this until recently. In recent years, however, this reference has been questioned repeatedly. This article examines the significance of this issue and this confusion for Eucharistic and for Marian theology.
Following the Third Ecumenical Council, the assimilation of the dogmatic teaching about the Theotokos was very slow. Certain Fathers were waypoints regarding the person of the Theotokos, such as Cyril of Alexandria, John Damascene, Gregory Palamas, Nicholas Kavasilas, Nikodimos the Athonite, and Silouan the Athonite. In this paper, we compare the positions of certain contemporary Orthodox theologians with those of the previously mentioned Fathers regarding the subject of the sinlessness of the Virgin Mary.
Mother of Jesus