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Our readers asked:

What does the Council of Ephesus have to do with Mary?

Ginny Kubitz Moyer Answers:

The Council of Ephesus, which was held in 431, was crucial in affirming the truth of the title “Mother of God.” People had been calling Mary that for quite some time, but it was not dogmatically defined until the Council.

Here’s how it happened: At the Council, the bishops denounced the Nestorian heresy, a heresy that claimed that Christ’s human and divine natures were separate. Nestorians therefore believed that Mary was only the mother of the human Christ, not of the divine Christ.

In denouncing Nestorianism, the bishops affirmed the unity of the divine and human natures of Christ. Given that one cannot separate Christ’s divine nature from his human nature, the Council declared that it is correct to call Mary by the title of Theotokos, Greek for “God-bearer” – or, as we are more likely to say these days, “Mother of God.”

The Author : Ginny Kubitz Moyer
Ginny Kubitz Moyer is the author of the award-winning book Mary and Me: Catholic Women Reflect on the Mother of God. She lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area and blogs at randomactsofmomness.com.
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  • Ginny

    Hi Judith,

    Thanks so much for your comment. This very issue (calling Mary the Mother of God) came up in the Question Box a few months back: http://www.bustedhalo.com/questionbox/how-can-mary-be-the-mother-of-god-if-god-is-eternal Weird as the title may sound to our ears, it makes sense in light of the Holy Trinity.

  • judith

    God-bearer, while awkward to our ears, perhaps, is a better title for Mary. I think that saying she is the Mother of God sounds like she came before Him or was His source, as when my sons claim me as their mother. IMHO

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