Theotokos in the Church of the East


In 2005, the status of the Blessed Virgin Mother as the Theotokos was surprisingly something that did not generate a lot of online debate.  The only assertion I made was the following post:

In regards to the Theotokos, we have maintained the validity of calling her Theotokos { yema d’alaha } despite our insistance in using the term Christotokos { yema d’mshihha }. Even in the writings of our fathers you will find confession to the validity of the term when understood as a type of communicatio idiomatum.

This might come surprising, since in the streets and among the uneducated faithful, one would hear many times complaints about the veneration of Mary as the Mother of God.  As will be discussed in later posts, the effect of Islam and ignorance in our people has adversely affected many lay faithful from the Assyrian Church.  For those who were familiar with the fathers of the Church, with theology and christology, as well as recent ecumenical talks, this was a non-issue.  The Common Christological Declaration of 1994, signed by the Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV and Pope John Paul II, had for us settled any dispute in this matter.

That is the reason why the Assyrian Church of the East is praying the Virgin Mary as “the Mother of Christ our God and Saviour”. In the light of this same faith the Catholic tradition addresses the Virgin Mary as “the Mother of God” and also as “the Mother of Christ”. We both recognize the legitimacy and rightness of these expressions of the same faith and we both respect the preference of each Church in her liturgical life and piety. – CCD

A related topic was never disputed either and merited a mere mention in the disputes.  When entering the Church, I would simply state:

With Mary, and her being immaculately conceived, the purity of the blessed virgin was never in question, and the Church of the East had much in liturgical language and popular devotion. So understanding that the “Immaculate Conception” was stating something we took for granted.

In fact the Hudra, refers to Mary with the title nakpta which means modest, chaste, religious, pure.  So her purity/chastity is never called into question. The Church of the East Hudra is filled with some very very powerful poetry and imagery in its treatment of the Holy Mother, and perhaps in the future I could treat this topic in its own posting.

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