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Teaching about Mary, mother of Jesus.

Many hold (on basis of Lk 1:32; 3:23–38; Ro 1:3; 2 Ti 2:8; Acts 2:30) that Mary was a descendant of David. Jesus was conceived in her by the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit and was born of her. The Bible does not say whether or not she had other children. She appears only briefly in accounts of her Son's later life (e.g., Lk 2:41–52: Jn 2:1–11; Mt 12:46–50; Jn 19:25–27) and Acts 1:14.

In the early Christian cents. Mary received comparatively little attention. But as Christological* controversies developed, she was increasingly recognized, esp. in the E; the 431 Council of Ephesus* adopted a letter of Cyril* of Alexandria which calls her “mother of God.” Many legends about her also arose. In the 4th and 5th cents. devotion to her increased rapidly. The 787 Council of Nicaea* stated: “We honor and salute and reverently venerate … the image of … our spotless Lady the all-holy mother of God.”

In the Middle Ages, P. Damiani,* Bernard* of Clairvaux, et al. promoted veneration of Mary. Ave* Maria became a popular form of devotion, esp. as used in the Angelus* and rosary.*

In the early Christian cents. only a few feast days honored Mary (e.g., Annunciation, March 25; Purification [Presentation], February 2); the Middle Ages saw a sharp increase in the number of days devoted to her.

Devotion to Mary was modified by the Luth. Reformation.* For many yrs. M. Luther* held that Mary had been conceived without sin (WA 4, 559; 17 II, 409; 31 II, 689). But later he held that it was at Christ's conception that she was totally purged of sin (WA 39 II, 107). He held that she remained a virgin in childbirth (WA 40 Illinois, 680) and for the rest of her life (WA 48, 579). Throughout his life Luther insisted that she is the mother of God (WA 7, 545: 36, 60; 10 II, 407). In 1522 he urged that one pray the Ave Maria but omitted “Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death” (WA 10 II, 407–409). For Luther, Mary was “queen of Heaven,” but he warns against making that name say too much (WA 7, 573).

The Book* of Concord refers to Mary as “blessed” (AC III 1), “pure, holy, and ever-virgin” (SA-I 4), who “is most worthy of the most ample honors” (Ap XXI 27) and “is rightly called and truly is the mother of God” (FC Ep VIII 12). “Granted that blessed Mary prays for the church” (Ap XXI 27), yet “Scripture does not teach the invocation of saints” (AC XXI 2). See also Mariolatry; Theotokos.

As a result of Pietism,* rationalism,* and Prot. sectarianism, the esteem in which 16th c. Luths. held Mary nearly disappeared in many areas, though she is commemorated in most Luth. service books on the Feasts of the Annunciation* (March 25), Presentation of Our Lord and Purification of Mary (February 2), and Visitation (July 2). See also Church Year, 13, 16.

See also Rorate Masses.

M. Luther, “The Magnificat Translated and Expounded,” tr. A. T. W. Steinhaeuser, Luther's Works, XXI, ed. J. Pelikan (St. Louis, 1956), 295–358; H. D. Preuss, Maria bei Luther (Gütersloh, 1954); M. Thurian, Mary Mother of All Christians, tr. N. B. Cryer (New York, 1963); W. Tappolet, Das Marienlob der Reformatoren (Tübingen, 1962); H. Asmussen, Maria die Mutter Gottes (Stuttgart, 1950); R. Laurentin, The Question of Mary, tr. I. G. Pidoux (New York, 1965); Maria in Liturgie und Lehrwort, ed. P. T. Bogler (Maria Laach, 1954). EFP

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod

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Content Reproduced with Permission

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