|« Prev||The Exaltation of the Virgin Mariology||Next »|
§ 81. The Exaltation of the Virgin Mariology.
Canisius (R.C.): De Maria Virgine libri quinque. Ingolst. 1577. Lamberertini (R.C.): Comment. dum De J. Christi, matrisque ejus festis. Patav. 1751. Perrone (R.C.): De Immaculata B. V. Mariae conceptu. Rom. 1848. (In defence of the new papal dogma of the sinless conception of Mary.) F. W. Genthe: Die Jungfrau Maria, ihre Evangelien u. ihre Wunder. Halle, 1852. Comp. also the elaborate article, “Maria, Mutter des Herrn,” by Steitz, in Herzog’s Protest. Real-Encycl. (vol. ix. p. 74 ff.), and the article, “Maria, die heil. Jungfrau,” by Reithmayr (R.C.) in Wetzer u. Welte’s Kathol. Kirchenlex. (vi. 835 ff.); also the Eirenicon-controversy between Pusey and J. H. Newman, 1866.
Into these festival cycles a multitude of subordinate feasts found their way, at the head of which stand the festivals of the holy Virgin Mary, honored as queen of the army of saints.
The worship of Mary was originally only a reflection of the worship of Christ, and the feasts of Mary were designed to contribute to the glorifying of Christ. The system arose from the inner connection of the Virgin with the holy mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God; though certainly, with this leading religious and theological interest other motives combined. As mother of the Saviour of the world, the Virgin Mary unquestionably holds forever a peculiar position among all women, and in the history of redemption. Even in heaven she must stand peculiarly near to Him whom on earth she bore nine months under her bosom, and whom she followed with true motherly care to the cross. It is perfectly natural, nay, essential, to sound religious feeling, to associate with Mary the fairest traits of maidenly and maternal character, and to revere her as the highest model of female purity, love, and piety. From her example issues a silent blessing upon all generations, and her name and memory are, and ever will be, inseparable from the holiest mysteries and benefits of faith. For this reason her name is even wrought into the Apostles’ Creed, in the simple and chaste words: “Conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary.”
The Catholic church, however, both Latin and Greek, did not stop with this. After the middle of the fourth century it overstepped the wholesome Biblical limit, and transformed the mother of the Lord”758758 Ἡ μήτηρ τοῦ κυρίου, Luke i. 43. into a mother of God, the humble handmaid of the Lord”759759 Ἡ δούλη κυρίου, Luke i. 38. into a queen of heaven, the “highly favored”760760 Κεχαριτωμένη (pass. part.), Luke i. 28. into a dispenser of favors, the “blessed among women”761761 Εὐλογημένη ἐν γυναιξίν, Luke i. 28. into an intercessor above all women, nay, we may almost say, the redeemed daughter of fallen Adam, who is nowhere in Holy Scripture excepted from the universal sinfulness, into a sinlessly holy co-redeemer. At first she was acquitted only of actual sin, afterward even of original; though the doctrine of the immaculate conception of the Virgin was long contested, and was not established as an article of faith in the Roman church till 1854. Thus the veneration of Mary gradually degenerated into the worship of Mary; and this took so deep hold upon the popular religious life in the Middle Age, that, in spite of all scholastic distinctions between latria, and dulia, and hyrerdulia, Mariolatry practically prevailed over the worship of Christ. Hence in the innumerable Madonnas of Catholic art the human mother is the principal figure, and the divine child accessory. The Romish devotions scarcely utter a Pater Noster without an Ave Maria, and turn even more frequently and naturally to the compassionate, tender-hearted mother for her intercessions, than to the eternal Son of God, thinking that in this indirect way the desired gift is more sure to be obtained. To this day the worship of Mary is one of the principal points of separation between the Graeco-Roman Catholicism and Evangelical Protestantism. It is one of the strongest expressions of the fundamental Romish error of unduly exalting the human factors or instruments of redemption, and obstructing, or rendering needless, the immediate access of believers to Christ, by thrusting in subordinate mediators. Nor can we but agree with nearly all unbiased historians in regarding the worship of Mary as an echo of ancient heathenism. It brings plainly to mind the worship of Ceres, of Isis, and of other ancient mothers of the gods; as the worship of saints and angels recalls the hero-worship of Greece and Rome. Polytheism was so deeply rooted among the people, that it reproduced itself in Christian forms. The popular religious want had accustomed itself even to female deities, and very naturally betook itself first of all to Mary, the highly favored and blessed mother of the divine-human Redeemer, as the worthiest object of adoration.
Let us trace now the main features in the historical development of the Catholic Mariology and Mariolatry.
The New Testament contains no intimation of any worship or festival celebration of Mary. On the one hand, Mary, is rightly called by Elizabeth, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, “the mother of the Lord”762762 Luke i. 43:Ἡ μήτηρ τοῦ κυρίου μου.—but nowhere “the mother of God,” which is at least not entirely synonymous—and is saluted by her, as well as by the angel Gabriel, as “blessed among women;”763763 Luke i. 28: Χαῖρε, κεχαριτωμένη·ὁκύριος μετὰσοῦ, εὐλογημένησὺἐνγυναιξίν. So Elizabeth, Luke i. 42: Εὐλογημένη σὺ ἐν γυναιξί, καὶ εὐλογημένος ὁ καρπὸς τῆς κοιλίας σου. nay, she herself prophesies in her inspired song, which has since resounded through all ages of the church, that “henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.”764764 Luke i. 48: Ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν μακαριοῦσί με πᾶσαι αἱ γενεαί. Through all the youth of Jesus she appears as a devout virgin, full of childlike innocence, purity, and humility; and the few traces we have of her later life, especially the touching scene at the cross,765765 John xix. 25-27. confirm this impression. But, on the other hand, it is equally unquestionable, that she is nowhere in the New Testament excepted from the universal sinfulness and the universal need of redemption, and represented as immaculately holy, or as in any way an object of divine veneration. On the contrary, true to the genuine female character, she modestly stands back throughout the gospel history, and in the Acts and the Epistles she is mentioned barely once, and then simply as the “mother of Jesus;”766766 Acts i. 14. even her birth and her death are unknown. Her glory fades in holy humility before the higher glory of her Son. In truth, there are plain indications that the Lord, with prophetic reference to the future apotheosis of His mother according to the flesh, from the first gave warning against it. At the wedding in Cana He administered to her, though leniently and respectfully, a rebuke for premature zeal mingled perhaps with maternal vanity.767767 John ii. 4: Τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοἰ, γύναι; Comp. the commentators on the passage. The expression ”woman“ is entirely respectful, comp. John xix. 21; xx. 13, 15. But the ”What have I to do with thee?” is, like the Hebrewךְלָיָ ילּ־המַ (Josh. xxii, 24; 2 Sam.xvi. 10; xix. 22; 1 Kings xvii 18; 2 Kings iii. 13; 2 Chron. xxxv. 21), a rebuke and censure of undue interference; comp. Matt. viii. 29; Luke viii. 28; Mark i. 24 (also the classics). Meyer, the best grammatical expositor, observes on γύναι: “That Jesus did not say μῆτερ, flowed involuntarily from the sense of His higher wonder-working position, whence He repelled the interference of feminine weakness, which here met Him even in His mother.” On a subsequent occasion he put her on a level with other female disciples, and made the carnal consanguinity subordinate to the spiritual kinship of the doing of the will of God.768768 Matt. xii. 46-50. The well-meant and in itself quite innocent benediction of an unknown woman upon His mother He did not indeed censure, but He corrected it with a benediction upon all who hear the word of God and keep it, and thus forestalled the deification of Mary by confining the ascription within the bounds of moderation.769769 Luke xi 27, 28. The μενοῦνγε is emphatic, utique, but also corrective, imo vero; so here, and Rom. ii. 20; x. 18. Luther inexactly translates simply, ja; the English Bible more correctly, yea rather. Meyer ad loc.: “Jesus does not forbid the congratulation of His mother, but He applies the predicate μακάριος as the woman had done, to an outward relation, but to an ethical category, in which any one might stand, so that the congratulation of His mother as mother is thereby corrected.” Van Oosterzee strikingly remarks in his Commentary on Luke (in Lange’s Bibelwerk): ” The congratulating woman is the prototype of all those, who in all times have honored the mother of the Lord above her Son, and been guilty of Mariolatry. If the Lord even here disapproves this honoring of His mother, where it moves in so modest limits, what judgment would He pass upon the new dogma of Pio Nono, on which a whole new Mariology is built?”
In striking contrast with this healthful and sober representation of Mary in the canonical Gospels are the numerous apocryphal Gospels of the third and fourth centuries, which decorated the life of Mary with fantastic fables and wonders of every kind, and thus furnished a pseudo-historical foundation for an unscriptural Mariology and Mariolatry.770770 Here belongs, above all, the Protevangelium Jacobi Minoris, which dates from the third or fourth century; then the Evangelium de nativitate S. Mariae; the Historia de nativitate Mariae et de infantia Salvatoris; the Evangelium infantiae Servatoris; the Evang. Josephi fabri lignarii. Comp. Thilo’s Cod. Apocryphus N. Ti. Lips. 1832, and the convenient digest of this apocryphal history in R. Hofmann’s Leben Jesu nach den Apocryphen. Leipz. 1851, pp. 5-117. The Catholic church, it is true, condemned this apocryphal literature so early as the Decrees of Gelasius;771771 Decret de libris apocr. Coll Cone. ap. Harduin, tom. ii. p. 941. Comp. Pope Innocent I., Ep. ad Exuperium Tolosanum, c. 7, where the Protevang. Jacobi is rejected and condemned. yet many of the fabulous elements of it—such as the names of the parents of Mary, Joachim (instead of Eli, as in Luke iii. 23) and Anna,772772 Epiphanius also, Haer. 78, no. 17, gives the parents of Jesus these names. To reconcile this with Luke iii: 23, the Roman theologians suppose, that Eli, or Heli, is an abbreviation of Heliakim, and that this is the same with Joakim, or Joachim. the birth of Mary in a cave, her education in the temple, and her mock marriage with the aged Joseph773773 According to the apocryphal Historia Josephi he was already ninety years old; according to Epiphanius at least eighty; and was blessed with children by a former marriage. According to Origen, also, and Eusebius, and Gregory of Nyssa, Joseph was an aged widower. Jerome, on the contrary, makes him, like Mary, a pure coelebs, and says of him: “Mariae quam putatus est habuisse, custos potius fait quam maritus;” consequently he must “virginem mansisse cum Maria, qui pater Domini meruit adpellari.” Contr. Helvid. c. 19.—passed into the Catholic tradition.
The development of the orthodox Catholic Mariology and Mariolatry originated as early as the second century in an allegorical interpretation of the history of the fall, and in the assumption of an antithetic relation of Eve and Mary, according to which the mother of Christ occupies the same position in the history of redemption as the wife of Adam in the history of sin and death.774774 Rom. v. 12 ff.; 1 Cor. xv. 22. But Paul ignores here Eve and Mary altogether. This idea, so fruitful of many errors, is ingenious, but unscriptural, and an apocryphal substitute for the true Pauline doctrine of an antitypical parallel between the first and second Adam.775775 In later times in the Latin church even the Ave with which Gabriel saluted the Virgin, was received as the converse of the name of Eva; though the Greek χαῖρε Luke i. 28, admits no such far-fetched accommodation. In like manner the bruising of the serpent’s head, Gen. iii. 15, was applied to Mary instead of Christ, because the Vulgate wrongly translates the Hebrew שׁאר ךָפְיּשׁיְאוּה, ipsaconteret caput tuum;“while the LXX. rightly refers the אוּה to ﬠרַזֶ as masc., αὐτός and likewise all Protestant versions of the Bible. It tends to substitute Mary for Christ. Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Tertullian, are the first who present Mary as the counterpart of Eve, as a “mother of all living” in the higher, spiritual sense, and teach that she became through her obedience the mediate or instrumental cause of the blessings of redemption to the human race, as Eve by her disobedience was the fountain of sin and death.776776 Irenaeus: Adv. haer. lib. iii. c. 22, § 4: “Consequenter autem et Maria virgo obediens invenitur, dicens: ’Ecce ancilla tua, Domine, fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum’(Luke i. 38); Eva vero disobediens: non obedivit enim, quum adhuc esset virgo. Quemadmodum illa virum quidem habens Adam, virgo tamen adhuc existens ... inobediens facta, et sibi et universo generihumano causa facta est mortis: sic et Maria habens praedestinatum virum, et tamen virgo obediens, et sibi et universo generi humano causa facta est salutis .... Sic autem et Evae inobedientiea nodus solutionem accepit per obedientiam Mariae. Quod enim allgavit virgo Eva per incredulitatem, hoc virgo Maria solvit per fidem.” Comp. v. 19, § 1. Similar statements occur in Justin M. (Dial.c.Tryph. 100), Tertullian(De carne Christi, c. 17), Epiphanius (Haer. 78, 18), Ephraem (Opp. ii. 318; iii. 607), Jerome(Ep. xxii. ad Eustoch. 21: “Mors per Evam, vita per Mariam ”). Even St. Augustinecarries this parallel between the first and second Eve as far as any of the fathers, in a sermon De Adam et Eva et sancta Maria, not heretofore quoted, published from Vatican Manuscripts in Angelo Mai’s Nova Patrum Bibliotheca, tom. i. Rom. 1852, pp. 1-4. Here, after a most exaggerated invective against woman (whom he calls latrocinium vitae, suavis mors, blanda percussio, interfectio lenis, pernicies delicata, malum libens, sapida jugulatio, omnium calamitas rerum—and all that in a sermon!), goes on thus to draw a contrast between Eve and Mary: “O mulier ista exsecranda, dum decepit! o iterum beata colenda, dum salvat! Plus enim contulit gratiae, quam doloris. Licet ipsa docuerit mortem, ipsa tamen genuit dominum salvatorem. Inventa est ergo mors per mulierem, vita per virginem .... Ergo malum per feminam, immo et per feminam bonum: quia si per Evam cecidimus, magis stamus per Mariam: per Evam sumus servituti addicti effeti per Mariam liberi: Eva nobis sustulit diuturnitatem, aeternitatem nobis Maria condonavit: Eva nos damnari fecit per arboris pomum, absolvit Maria per arboris sacramentum, quia et Christus in ligno pependit ut fructus” (c. 3, pp. 2 and 3). And in conclusion: “Haec mater est humani generis, auctor illa salutis. Eva nos educavit, roboravit et Maria: per Evam cotidie crescimus, regnamus in aeternum per Mariam: per Evam deducti ad terram, ad coelum elevati per Mariam” (c. 4, p. 4). Comp. Aug Sermo 232, c. 2. Irenaeus calls her also the “advocate of the virgin Eve,” which, at a later day, is understood in the sense of intercessor.777777 Adv. haer. v. cap. 19, § 1: “Quemadmodum illa [Eva] seducta est ut effugeret Deum ... sic haec [Maria] suasa est obedire Deo, uti virginis Evae virgo Maria fieret advocata [probably a translation of συνήγορος or παράκλητος]. Et quemadmodum adstrictum est morti genus humanum per virginem, salvatur per virginem, aequa lance disposita, virginalis inobedientia per virginalem obedientiam.” p 415 On this account this father stands as the oldest leading authority in the Catholic Mariology; though with only partial justice; for he was still widely removed from the notion of the sinlessness of Mary, and expressly declares the answer of Christ in John ii. 4, to be a reproof of her premature haste.778778 Adv. haer. iii. cap. 16, § 7 (not. c. 18, as Gieseler, i. 2, p. 277, wrongly cited it): ”... Dominus repellus ejus intempestivam festinationem, dixit: ’Quid mihi et tibi est mulier?’” So even Chrysostom, Hom. 21 in Joh n. 1. In the same way Tertullian, Origen, Basil the Great, and even Chrysostom, with all their high estimate of the mother of our Lord, ascribe to her on one or two occasions (John ii. 3; Matt. xiii. 47) maternal vanity, also doubt and anxiety, and make this the sword (Luke ii. 35) which, under the cross, passed through her soul.779779 Tertullian, De carne Christi, c. 7; Origen, in Luc. Hom. 17; Basil, Ep. 260; Chrysostom, Hom. 44 in Matt, and Hom. 21 in Joh ; Cyril Alex. In Joann. l. xii. In addition to this typological antithesis of Mary and Eve, the rise of monasticism supplied the development of Mariology a further motive in the enhanced estimate of virginity, without which no true holiness could be conceived. Hence the virginity of Mary, which is unquestioned for the part of her life before the birth of Christ, came to be extended to her whole life, and her marriage with the aged Joseph to be regarded as a mere protectorate, and, therefore, only a nominal marriage. The passage, Matt. i. 25, which, according to its obvious literal meaning (the ἕωςand πρωτότοκος780780 The reading πρωτότοκος in Matt. i. 25 is somewhat doubtful, but it is certainly genuine in Luke ii. 7.), seems to favor the opposite view, was overlooked or otherwise explained; and the brothers of Jesus,781781 They are always called ἀδελφοί (four in number, James, Joseph or Joses, Simon, and Jude) and αδελφαί (at least two), Matt. xii. 46, 47; xiii. 55, 56; Mark iii. 31, 32; vi. 3; John vii. 3, 5, 10; Acts i. 14, etc., but nowhere ἀνεψιοί; Mark a term well known to the N. T. vocabulary (Col. iv. 10), or συγγενεῖς, kinsmen (Mark vi. 4; Luke i. 36, 58; ii. 44; John viii. 26; Acts x. 24), or υἱοὶτῆς ἀδελφῆς, sister’s sons (Acts xxiii. 26). This speaks strongly against the cousin-theory. who appear fourteen or fifteen times in the gospel history and always in close connection with His mother, were regarded not as sons of Mary subsequently born, but either as sons of Joseph by a former marriage (the view of Epiphanius), or, agreeably to the wider Hebrew use of the term ̀ἀcousins of Jesus (Jerome).782782 Comp. on this whole complicated question of the brothers of Christ and the connected question of James, the author’s treatise on Jakobus und die Brüder des Herrn, Berlin, 1842, his Hist. of the Apostolic Church, 2d ed. § 95 (p. 383 of the Leipzig ed.; p. 378 of the English), and his article on the Brethren of Christ in the Bibliotheca Sacra of Andover for Oct. 1864 It was felt—and this feeling is shared by many devout Protestants—to be irreconcilable with her dignity and the dignity of Christ, that ordinary children should afterward proceed from the same womb out of which the Saviour of the world was born. The name perpetua virgo, ἀεὶ παρθένος, was thenceforth a peculiar and inalienable predicate of Mary. After the fourth century it was taken not merely in a moral sense, but in the physical also, as meaning that Mary conceived and produced the Lord clauso utero.783783 Tertullian(De carne Christi, c. 23: Virgo quantum a viro; non virgo quantum a partu), Clement of Alex. (Strom. vii. p. 889), and even Epiphanius (Haer. lxxviii. § 19, where it is said of Christ:Οὗτός ἐστινἀληθῶς ἀνοίγωνμήτρανμητρός), were still of another opinion on this point. Ambroseof Milan is the first, within my knowledge, to propound this miraculous view (Epist. 42 ad Siricium). He appeals to Ezek. xliv. 1-3, taking the east gate of the temple, which must remain closed because Jehovah passed through it, to refer typically to Mary.“Quos est haec porta, nisi Maria? Ideo clausa, quia virgo. Porta igitur Maria, per quam Christus intravit in hunc mundum.” De inst. Virg. c. 8 (Op. ii. 262). So Ambrosealso in his hymn, ” A solis ortus cardine,“and Jerome, Adv. Pelag. l. ii. 4. The resurrection of Jesus from the closed tomb and the entrance of the risen Jesus through the closed doors, also, was often used as an analogy. The fathers assume that the stone which sealed the Saviour’s tomb, was not rolled away till after the resurrection, and they draw a parallel between the sealed tomb from which He rose to everlasting life, and the closed gate of the Virgin’s womb from which He was born to earthly life. Jerome, Comment. in Matth. xxvii. 60: ” Potest novum sepulchrum Mariae virginalem uterum demonstrare.” Gregory the Great: ” Ut ex clauso Virginis utero natus, sic ex clauso sepulchro resurrexit in quo nemo conditus fuerat, et postquam resurrexisset, se per clausas fores in conspectum apostolorum induxit.” Subsequently the catholic view, consistently, removed every other incident of an ordinary birth, such as pain and the flow of blood. While Jeromestill would have Jesus born under all ” naturae contumeliis,“John Damascenus says (De orth. fide, iv. 14): ” Since this birth was not preceded by any [carnal] pleasure, it could also have been followed by no pangs.” Here, too, a passage of prophecy must serve as a proof: Is. lxvi. 7: ” Before she travailed, she brought forth,”&c. This, of course, required the supposition of a miracle, like the passage of the risen Jesus through the closed doors. Mary, therefore, in the Catholic view, stands entirely alone in the history of the world in this respect, as in others: that she was a married virgin, a wife never touched by her husband.784784 Augustine(De s. virg. c. 6): “Sola Maria et spiritu et corpore mater et virgo.”
Epiphanius, in his seventy-eighth Heresy, combats the advocates of the opposite view in Arabia toward the end of the fourth century (367), as heretics under the title of Antidikomarianites, opposers of the dignity of Mary, i.e., of her perpetual virginity. But, on the other hand, he condemns, in the seventy-ninth Heresy, the contemporaneous sect of the Collyridians in Arabia, a set of fanatical women, who, as priestesses, rendered divine worship to Mary, and, perhaps in imitation of the worship of Ceres, offered little cakes (κολλυρίδες) to her; he claims adoration for God and Christ alone. Jerome wrote, about 383, with indignation and bitterness against Helvidius and Jovinian, who, citing Scripture passages and earlier church teachers, like Tertullian, maintained that Mary bore children to Joseph after the birth of Christ. He saw in this doctrine a desecration of the temple of the Holy Ghost, and he even compares Helvidius to Erostratus, the destroyer of the temple at Ephesus.785785 Helvidiusadduces the principal exegetical arguments for his view; the passages on the Lord’s brothers, and especially Matt. i. 25, pressing the words ἐγίνωσκε and ἕως. Jeromeremarks, on the contrary, that the knowing by no means necessarily denotes nuptial intercourse, and that till does not always fix a limit; e.g., Matt. xxviii. 20 and 1 Cor. xv. 25. In like manner Helvidiuslaid stress on the expression πρωτότοκος, used of Christ, Matt. i. 25; Luke ii. 7; to which Jeromerightly replies that, according to the law, every son who first opens the womb is called the first-born, Ex. xxxiv. 19, 20; Num. xviii. 15 ff., whether followed by other children or not. The “brothers of Jesus” he explains to be cousins, sons of Alpheus and the sister of the Virgin Mary, who likewise was called Mary (as he wrongly infers from John xix. 25). The main argument of Jerome, however, is the ascetic one: the overvaluation of celibacy. Joseph was probably only “custos,” not “maritus Mariae” cap. 19), and their marriage only nominal. He would not indeed deny that there are pious souls among married women and widows, but they are such as have abstained or ceased from living in conjugal intercourse (cap. 21). Helvidius, conversely, ascribed equal moral dignity to the married and the single state. So Jovinian. Comp. § 43. The bishop Bonosus of Sardica was condemned for the same view by the Illyrican bishops, and the Roman bishop Siricius approved the sentence, a.d. 392.
Augustine went a step farther. In an incidental remark against Pelagius, he agreed with him in excepting Mary, “propter honorem Domini,” from actual (but not from original) sin.786786 De Nat. et grat. contra Pelag. c. 36, § 42: ”Excepta sancto virgine Maria, de qua propter honorem Domini nullam prorsus, cum de peccatis agitur, haberi volo guaestionem ... hac ergo virgine excepta, si omnes illos sanctos et sanctas (whom Peligius takes for sinless] ... congregare possemus et interrogare, utrum essent sine peccato, quid fuisse responsuros putamus: utrum hoc quod iste [Pelagius] dicit, an quod Joannes apostolus” [1 John i. 8]? In other places, however, Augustinesays, that the flesh of Mary came “de peccati propagine” (De Gen. ad Lit. x. c. 18), and that, in virtue of her descent from Adam, she was subject to death also as the consequence of sin (“Maria ex Adam mortua propter peocatum,” Enarrat. in Ps. 34, vs. 12). This was also the view of Anselm of Canterbury († 1109), in his Cur Deus homo, ii. 16, where he says of Christ that he assumed sinless manhood “de massa peccatrice, id est de humano genere, quod totum infectum errat peccato,” and of Mary: “Virgo ipsa, unde assumptus est, est in iniquitatibus concepta, et in peccatis concepit eam mater ejus, et cum originali peccato nata est, quoniam et ipsa in Adam peccavit in quo omnes peccaverunt.” Jerometaught the universal sinfulness without any exception, Adv. Pelag. ii. 4. This exception he is willing to make from the sinfulness of the race, but no other. He taught the sinless birth and life of Mary, but not her immaculate conception. He no doubt assumed, as afterward Bernard of Clairvaux and Thomas Aquinas, a sanctificatio in utero, like that of Jeremiah (Jer. i. 5) and John the Baptist (Luke i. 15), whereby, as those two men were fitted for their prophetic office, she in a still higher degree was sanctified by a special operation of the Holy Ghost before her birth, and prepared to be a pure receptacle for the divine Logos. The reasoning of Augustine backward from the holiness of Christ to the holiness of His mother was an important turn, which was afterward pursued to further results. The same reasoning leads as easily to the doctrine of the immaculate conception of Mary, though also, just as well, to a sinless mother of Mary herself, and thus upward to the beginning, of the race, to another Eve who never fell. Augustine’s opponent, Pelagius, with his monastic, ascetic idea of holiness and his superficial doctrine of sin, remarkably outstripped him on this point, ascribing to Mary perfect sinlessness. But, it should be remembered, that his denial of original sin to all men, and his excepting of sundry saints of the Old Testament besides Mary, such as Abel, Enoch, Abraham, Isaac, Melchizedek, Samuel, Elijah, Daniel, from actual sin,787787 Augustine, De Nat. et grat. cap. 36. so that πάντεςin Rom. v. 12, in his view, means only a majority, weaken the honor he thus appears to confer upon the mother of the Lord. The Augustinian view long continued to prevail; but at last Pelagius won the victory on this point in the Roman church.788788 The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary was, for the first time after Pelagius, plainly brought forward in 1140 at Lyons, but was opposed by Bernard of Clairvaux (Ep. 174), and thence continued an avowed issue between the Franciscans and Dominicans, till it gained the victory in the papal bull of 1854.
Notwithstanding this exalted representation of Mary, there appear no clear traces of a proper worship of Mary, as distinct from the worship of saints in general, until the Nestorian controversy of 430. This dispute formed an important turning-point not only in Christology, but in Mariology also. The leading interest in it was, without doubt, the connection of the virgin with the mystery of the incarnation. The perfect union of the divine and human natures seemed to demand that Mary might be called in some sense the mother of God, θεοτόκος, Deipara; for that which was born of her was not merely the man Jesus, but the God-Man Jesus Christ.789789 The expression θεοτόκος does not occur in the Scriptures, and is at best easily misunderstood. The nearest to it is the expression of Elizabeth:Ἡ μήτηρ τοῦ κυρίου μου, Luke i. 43, and the words of the angel Gabriel: Τὸ γεννώμμενον [ἐκ σοῦ, de te, al. in te, is not sufficiently attested, and is a later explanatory addition] ἅγιο νκληθήσεται υἱὸς Θεοῦ, Luke i. 35. But with what right the distinguished Roman Catholic professor Reithmayr, in the Catholic Encyclop. above quoted, vol. vi. p. 844, puts into the mouth of Elizabeth the expression, “mother of God my Lord;” I cannot see; for there is no such variation in the reading of Luke i. 43. The church, however, did, of course, not intend by that to assert that she was the mother of the uncreated divine essence—for this would be palpably absurd and blasphemous—nor that she herself was divine, but only that she was the human point of entrance or the mysterious channel for the eternal divine Logos. Athanasius and the Alexandrian church teachers of the Nicene age, who pressed the unity of the divine and the human in Christ to the verge of monophysitism, had already used this expression frequently and without scruple,790790 The earliest witnesses for θεοτόκος are Origen (according to Socrates, H. E. vii. 32), Eusebius (Vita Const iii. 43), Cyril of Jerus. (Catech. x. 146), Athanasius (Orat. iii. c. Arian. c. 14, 83), Didymus (De Trinit. i. 31, 94; ii 4, 133), and GregoryNaz. (Orat. li. 738). But it should be remembered that Hesychius, presbyter in Jerusalem († 343) calls David, as an ancestor of Christ, θεοπάτωρ (Photius, Cod. 275), and that in many apocrypha James is called ἀδελφόθεος (Gieseler, i. ii. 134). It is also worthy of note that Augustine(† 430), with all his reverence for Mary, never calls her mater Dei or Deipara; on the contrary, he seems to guard against it, Tract. viii. in Ev. Joann. c. 9. “Secundum quod Deus erat [Christus] matrem non habebat.” and Gregory Nazianzen even declares every one impious who denies its validity.791791 Orat. li. 738: Εἴ τιοὐθεοτόκον τὴν Μαρίαν ὑπολαμβάνει, χωρίς ἐστι τῆς θεότητος . Nestorius, on the contrary, and the Antiochian school, who were more devoted to the distinction of the two natures in Christ, took offence at the predicate θεοτόκος, saw in it a relapse into the heathen mythology, if not a blasphemy against the eternal and unchangeable Godhead, and preferred the expression Χριστοτόκος, mater Christi. Upon this broke out the violent controversy between him and the bishop Cyril of Alexandria, which ended in the condemnation of Nestorianism at Ephesus in 431.
Thenceforth the θεοτόκοςwas a test of orthodox Christology, and the rejection of it amounted to the beginning or the end of all heresy. The overthrow of Nestorianism was at the same time the victory of Mary-worship. With the honor of the Son, the honor also of the Mother was secured. The opponents of Nestorius, especially Proclus, his successor in Constantinople († 447), and Cyril of Alexandria († 444), could scarcely find predicates enough to express the transcendent glory of the mother of God. She was the crown of virginity, the indestructible temple of God, the dwelling place of the Holy Trinity, the paradise of the second Adam, the bridge from God to man, the loom of the incarnation, the sceptre of orthodoxy; through her the Trinity is glorified and adored, the devil and demons are put to flight, the nations converted, and the fallen creature raised to heaven.792792 Comp. Cyril’s Encom. in S. M. Deiparam and Homil. Ephes., and the Orationes of Proclus in Gallandi, vol. ix. Similar extravagant laudation had already been used by Ephraim Syrus († 378) in his work, De laudibus Dei genetricis, and in the collection of prayers which bore his name, but are in part doubtless of later origin, in the 3d volume of his works, pp. 524-552, ed. Benedetti and S. Assemani. The people were all on the side of the Ephesian decision, and gave vent to their joy in boundless enthusiasm, amidst bonfires, processions, and illuminations.
With this the worship of Mary, the mother of God, the queen of heaven, seemed to be solemnly established for all time. But soon a reaction appeared in favor of Nestorianism, and the church found it necessary to condemn the opposite extreme of Eutychianism or Monophysitism. This was the office of the council of Chalcedon in 451: to give expression to the element of truth in Nestorianism, the duality of nature in the one divine-human person of Christ. Nevertheless the θεοτόκοςwas expressly retained, though it originated in a rather monophysite view.793793 ̓Εκ Μαρίας τῆς παρθένον, τῆς θεοτόκου.
|« Prev||The Exaltation of the Virgin Mariology||Next »|
►Proofing disabled for this book
► Printer-friendly version