Does Theotokos imply 'Mother of God'?

I know that Theotokos means ‘God Bearer’ but I would like to know if it implies ‘Mother of God’ as well.
I was taught that it did, and would like to ensure that it is correct. I also read some sermons from St. Gregory Palamas & St. John of Damascus, both of whom refer over 10 times to ‘Mother of God’.

The reason for this question is that I wrote an article online and was corrected about the meaning by a Romanian priest. I am not sure if he simply meant that the actual definition is ‘God Bearer’ without disputing the ‘Mother of God’ title, or if he was trying to correct that title altogether.

I’m including a link to the article that he commented to at the bottom, in case someone can explain to me whether something is not accurate. Of course, I’m Catholic, but it seemed that both East and West were in agreement on the ‘Mother of God’ issue, no?

Thanks for your input! :slight_smile:–Orthodox-revere-Mary-as-the-Theotokos

Yes, *Theotokos *implies “Mother of God,” since that is the meaning the Council of Ephesus gave the word in 431 when they declared Mary Theotokos, one of the four Marian dogmas.

Actually, Theotokos does not mean “Godbearer”. That Greek word would be “Theophoros,” which is used for St. Ignatius of Antioch.

Theotokos literally calchs as “God-birthgiver”, as does the corresponding term BOGORODISTYA does in Slavonic. The Latin equivalents are “Deigenitrix” and “Deipara.” Romanian and Arabic translate THEOTOKOS literally.

Frequently in English, liturgical translations of Byzantine texts have used “Mother of God” for Theotokos, but the Melkites and Ruthenians are now returning to the Greek term.

Frequently, Greek will use Mitir to Theou (Slavonic: Bozemater), which literally means “Mother of God.”


“God-birthgiver” …would that be in a female/motherly way? Or is it in an undefined ‘parental’ sense, in which either ‘father’ or ‘mother’ would make sense? I’m trying to understand the concept from another language, but ‘birth-giver’ sounds to me as ‘someone who delivers into birth’…maybe I’m understanding the wrong connotation here?

Only mothers give birth. The meaning is clear and unambiguous. I think you might be trying to make this more complicated than it is. Like any mystery it is profound and simple at the same time.


Mothers (not fathers) give birth, and they are the mother of that child, so Yes!!!

Well, I was corrected by a Romanian priest about the Theotokos meaning Mother of God, and that in theology one must be very exact, which is true. He did not specify whether he agreed with the Mother of God title or not, however.

I do not know Ancient Greek, or modern for that matter, so I’m trying to understand the connotations of the language. Being bilingual I am aware that some concepts do not translate to another language because the people who speak it simply do not have that concept in their minds, therefore cannot ‘name’ it or speak of it, and another ‘close’ way must be found to convey the message losing accuracy.

I wanted to ensure that all Orthodox, as all Catholics, believe in Mary as the Mother of God, since we know that some Protestants do not believe it, which seems a theological ‘problem’ in my mind, since most Protestants believe in the Trinity and the ‘fully man/fully divine’ natures of Jesus. I just don’t get how to do this without agreeing that Mary is the Mother of God?:confused:

And, no, not only mothers give birth to offspring in the natural world, some species are born out of males [seahorses, for example]; or are placed into a nest to be born by ‘cracking’ an egg; or given to the father to incubate [penguins], which means at the moment of birth, they see the father as opposed to the mother. Making hasty assumptions is not accurate even in the natural world, much less in the spiritual one! :smiley:

I just wanted to make sure that I am not writing an article to inform people by giving them incorrect info about the Orthodox. My intention in including the East, rather than simply speak of the Latin Rite, was not only ecumenical in the sense of being inclusive of two very closely related Christian traditions [Catholic & Orthodox], but of also letting Protestants know that it is not only the Roman Catholics that hold these views.

Many times, I find that some Evangelicals, for example, believe that the Roman Catholics ‘made things up recently,’ but when I mention that not really, these views are from the 3, 4, or 7 c., AND all Catholics and all Orthodox believe them, that they [recent Christian traditions post-Reformation] are actually the minority NOT believing them, they are sincerely surprised and a little puzzled…

I wonder if some of you also find this to be the case? [especially in regards to the Sacraments and Mary]. Just wondering…:shrug:

I have experienced the same.

The problem is that the Evangelical especially can not separate in their minds the Triune God, of which Mary is not the Mother of, from the God incarnate Jesus of which she is the mother.

God Bearer she is, and Mother of the Lord Jesus she is. Using the term “Mother of God” sometimes requires some explaining. It is exhausting trying to explain these things sometimes especially when, they just want to tell me how In order to be saved i only need to accept Jesus as my personal savor. Which is much easier than actually trying to understand what the bible really teaches.

Have to give them credit for a good recruitment slogan though.

4+ year old thread.

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