T or t?

Is the tradition that the Mother of Jesus was always a virgin, held by a huge majority of Christians throughout all time – Catholic, Orthodox and Prostestant – also a Tradition? Is “heresy” a correct word here as tmatt says in his current posting? Or is it irrelevant to salvation, a pious opinion only? Or, as feminists say, an anti-sex and anti-woman monastic/patriatchal interpolation on what one assumes would have been a normal life of a working-class housewife? (The picture is complete with patriarchal double-speak about this being “really” much more prowoman than saying she had a natural sex life.)

Has any council accepted by Christens of East *and* West decreed Mary to be Ever Virgin? (That’s not a rhetorical question: I don’t know the answer at all.)

I’m *sure* Frederica was misquoted. But is it worth getting the Antiochian legal folks involved – as tmatt notes. Are there not poor people who could get fed rather than fighting with the press over unimportant doctrines? Or is this that important?

Huw Richardson wroted this on June 21st, 2007

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Category: church geekery, uberfrum

5 Responses to “T or t?”

Chris Jones
June 21st, 2007 at 8:46 pm


No council accepted by East and West has “decreed” that our Lady is ever-virgin; the only actual conciliar dogma concerning our Lady remains Ephesus’s decree on “Theotokos”.

But the decrees of the fifth council (Constantinople II) do refer to her as “ever-virgin” in passing. And that certainly is a council accepted by both East and West. And of course, the liturgy, which is also a witness to the Apostolic Tradition, consistently addresses her as “ever-virgin”.

It’s not “dogma” as such, but I think it is fair to say that it is settled doctrine in the Orthodox Church.

That is not to say that the Antiochian Archdiocese doesn’t have better things to do than get into a dust-up with the press over this. It’s really between Kh Frederica and the newspaper involved, and if they aren’t willing to do the honorable thing and print a correction, there’s not a whole lot to be done about it.

June 21st, 2007 at 9:14 pm

I’m with you on all counts save “apostolic witness” b/c unless an Apostle said it, we just won’t know until we can ask ‘em.

But without a council making someone who says otherwise “anathema” it’s not really a heresy. You’ll be out of sync with most of the last 2000 years, but you won’t be a heretic. Odd. But not anathema.

Of course I write as someone Who Ain’t Orthodox.

The thing about Bp J bringing in the legal department is hysterical in the full sense of that word, referencing the Greek roots and implications about drama queens.

Fr. Ernesto
June 21st, 2007 at 9:29 pm


I would agree with Chris. And, I would be quite surprised to see this made into a subject for heresy trials! It is settled doctrine, but not declared dogma.

It is dogma that Christ was born of a Virgin, however.

June 23rd, 2007 at 3:55 pm

From what I’ve read, it would be very surprising to find a council which formally asserted as a point of doctrine the perpetual virginity of the Theotokos. The reason I say this is that the traditional understanding had never been seriously challenged, and so there was no reason to re-affirm it in council. This is the same reason the Latin church didn’t formalize the canon of the Old Testament until the Counter-Reformation, and why the Orthodox still haven’t done so.

That being said, I don’t think the distinction you make between tradition and Tradition is a valid one in this case.

June 25th, 2007 at 11:56 am

I thought you might me interesting in my brief Protestant Akathist to the Virgin:

O, most medicre mother!
O, somewhat meritorious [former] maid!
We hail thee, most OK, though no better than us.
Though thou wert the form from which Christ took flesh,
verily, any of us could have done it,
random choice of the Father.

Though the Ark of the Covenant was so holy
death was dealth to unworthy wielders, for it contained
the Staff of Aaron, Law of God and Bread of Heaven;
Yet thou art still of small account, and nothing special,
though the World willed your womb be His dwelling.

Therefore, though God grew a baby in thy belly,
we dutifully ignore thee,
and chafe at those who sing thy praise.