On the meaning of the THEOTOKOS

St. John of Damascus (+749 A.D.) On the meaning of the THEOTOKOS (Bohorodica/Nascatoare de Dumnezeu)

[NOTE: This term gives expression to the Incarnation of the Word and the deification of man in terms of the wondrous maternity of the Virgin Mary. Our liturgical publications show there in consensus among the Orthodox in this country — OCA, Greek, Syrian — that the word Theotokos be brought into the English language, and not be translated as «Mother of God» or the somewhat cacophonous «Birth-giver of God.» Theotokos: from Greek theos, God+ tokos, bearer (from tiktein, bear, beget)….]

«And we proclaim the holy Virgin to be properly and truly Theotokos. For, as he who was born of her is true God, so is she truly Theotokos who gave birth to the true God who took flesh from her.

«Now, we do not say that God was born of her in the sense that the divinity of the Word has its beginning of being from her, but in the sense that God the Word himself, who was timelessly begotten of the Father before the ages…did in last days come for our salvation to dwell in her womb and of her was, without undergoing change, made flesh and born. Fro the holy Virgin did not give birth to a mere man but to true God, and not to God simply, but God made flesh….

«Hence, it is rightly and truly that we call holy Mary Theotokos, for this name expresses the entire mystery of the Incarnation. Thus, if she who gave birth is Theotokos, then he who was born of her is definitely God and also definitely man. …And this means that our Lord Jesus Christ has one person, two natures, and two begettings.

«In this the Theotokos, in a manner surpassing the course of nature, made it possible for the Fashioner to be fashioned and for the God and Creator of the universe to become man and deify the human nature which he had assumed….»

The Orthodox Faith, 56. Adapted from «The fathers of the Church»

From the book «The Divine Liturgy of the Great Church» by Fr. Paul Harrilchak, Reston, Virginia. 1984. page 7.

Special thanks to Fr George Kokhno from Saint Nicholas Cathedral of OCA, who posted this text to Kiev-orthodox.org

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