A REPLY TO DAVID BERCOT ON THE MOTHER OF GOD

Written by Vladimir Moss

 

 

     David Bercot is a continuing Anglican who has produced a number of cassettes on spiritual themes. In several of these, he criticizes the position of the Orthodox Church from the point of view of what he considers the classical Anglican via media – that is, a position midway between Protestantism, on the one hand, and Orthodoxy and Catholicism, on the other. Bercot claims that he was very sympathetic to Orthodoxy, but was put off by the attitude of the Orthodox to the Mother of God, which he considers to be clearly contrary to the teaching of the Pre-Nicene Church. The following is a reply to Bercot in defense of the Orthodox teaching.

 

     I come now to Bercot’s third tape, on Mary, the Mother of God. I find this the most interesting of Bercot’s tapes so far, not because it is correct – I think it contains the same mixture of true and demonstrably false statements as in the earlier tapes – but because it points to a certain mystery of Divine Providence which has been little inquired into. This is the mystery of why the veneration of the Mother of God, though present in the Early Church, acquired, relatively suddenly, such a great impetus and development in the fifth century.

 

     For I accept that there is little written evidence for the veneration of Mary in the Early Church. I do not accept that there is absolutely no evidence, as Bercot claims, even in the writings of the early Fathers. For example, St. Gregory the Wonderworker, a pupil of Origen and the apostle of Cappadocia, composed hymns in praise of the Holy Virgin which are just as “extravagant” as those of later Byzantine Fathers. Moreover, Bercot completely ignores the evidence from unwritten Tradition – the iconography of the early Church (in the Roman catacombs, for example), and liturgical tradition – which does, in a quiet way, point to the great honour in which Mary was held by the early Christians. And I firmly reject Bercot’s rejection of the oral traditions concerning Mary’s earthly life and assumption to heaven, which, while committed to writing only in the fifth century, witness to a strong oral tradition in the Church of Jerusalem since the first century.  This points to a characteristically Protestant flaw in all of Bercot’s reasoning: his reliance only on written evidence – the Holy Scriptures, or the writings of the Pre-Nicene Fathers, while completely ignoring all the evidence from art and oral tradition.

 

     Having said that, I accept that the veneration of Mary takes a huge leap – not in dogmatic development, but in sheer volume and extravagance of expression – in the fifth century. For, as Andrew Louth writes, “while there are a few precious fragments of evidence of early devotion in the East, it was only after the Synod of Ephesus in 431 affirmed her title as Theotokos, ‘Mother of God’, that it developed apace, while in the West it is not until the ninth century that there is much sign of devotion to the Virgin.”[1]

 

     The question is: why did it take so long for the cult of the Mother of God to develop? Bercot offers a typically modernist, psychologizing explanation: the post-Nicene Christians felt a need for a more feminine, less wrathful God, so they elevated Mary to divine status on the analogy of the Great Earth Mother. I find this explanation absurd. Does he mean to say that in the middle of the fifth century the whole Church, from the Celts of Britain to the Copts of Egypt, suddenly and without external pressure, abandoned its belief in the Trinitarian God and went back to paganism?! Let us remember that, to my knowledge, nobody throughout the whole Christian world objected to the veneration of Mary except a few western heretics who denied the virginity of Mary and were refuted in Blessed Jerome’s two books against Jovinian already in the fourth century. It follows that if Bercot is right, the Saviour’s promise that the Church would prevail against the gates of hell even to the end of the world is wrong, and the whole Church fell away from the truth in the fifth century, only to be recreated by a few continuing Anglicans 1500 years later!

 

     I offer another explanation. It is only a hypothesis, and I may well be wrong. But I think it fits the fact much better than Bercot’s explanation, while removing the necessity of concluding that the whole Church apostasized in the fifth century – a conclusion that Bercot does not draw explicitly, but which must be drawn if his argument is correct.

 

     The explanation consists in noting that the Third Ecumenical Council in Ephesus in 431, which established, as we have seen, that Mary was the “Mother of God”, decreed that henceforth hymns to Christ and the Saints should always conclude with a hymn to the Mother of God, a rule that is followed to this day in the liturgical practice of the Orthodox Church. The Council’s decree naturally stimulated a great deal of hymnography and iconography glorifying the Mother of God. This does not mean that the cult of Mary became more important than that of Christ, as Bercot quite wrongly asserts – a cursory examination of the liturgical texts of the Orthodox Church demonstrates that all services begin with prayers to one or other of the Persons of the Holy Trinity (Vespers and Mattins, for example, begin with a prayer to the Holy Spirit), and that prayers to God are far more frequent than prayers to the Mother of God and the Saints, especially in the central service of the Divine Liturgy. But it is certainly true that the veneration of the Mother of God became more prominent, in the sense of more public, after the Third Ecumenical Council.

 

     However, the decrees of the Third Council provide only a partial explanation of the facts. We still need to explain why the pre-Nicene Fathers said so little about the Mother of God, and in language that was so restrained by comparison with what came later. I think that the explanation is to be found in a principle that we find exemplified throughout the history of Divine Revelation: the principle, namely, that while the whole truth has been committed to God’s people from the time of the apostles, certain aspects of that truth are concealed from the outside world at certain times because a premature revelation of them would be harmful to the acceptance of the Christian Gospel as a whole.

 

     Let us take as an example the most cardinal doctrine of the Church, the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. The doctrine of the Trinity is implicit even in the first chapter of Genesis, where we read of the Father creating the material and noetic worlds through His Son, the Word of God, and with the cooperation of the Holy Spirit, Who broods like a bird over the waters of the abyss. And in the creation of man the multi-Personed nature of God is clearly hinted at in the words: “Let Us make man in Our image…” (Genesis 1.27). And yet the mystery is only gradually revealed in the course of the Old Testament, and becomes fully explicit only on the Day of Pentecost in the New.

 

     Let us take another example: the doctrine of the Divinity of Christ. In the Synoptic Gospels this mystery is only partially revealed, more emphasis being attaché to the full Humanity of Christ. In the Gospel of John, however, the veil is lifted with the words: “In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God. And the Word was God… And the Word was made flesh” (John 1.1, 14), and it is clearly explicit in the Epistles and in Revelation. So why did the Synoptic Evangelists not declare the mystery openly? Because they did not know it, as the Arians and modern heretics such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses would have us believe? Of course not! The mystery is there, in Matthew, Mark and Luke, for all those with ears to hear and eyes to see. So why is it not made explicit in them as it is in John?

 

     As always, the Holy Fathers provide us with the answer. They explain that John wrote his Gospel later, after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., not in order to correct the earlier Gospels, which were flawless in themselves, but in order to “fill in the gaps” which they had left unfilled under the influence of the Holy Spirit. The first three Evangelists faithfully reflect the general sequence of Christ’s teaching in not immediately and explicitly proclaiming His Divinity, for which the people (and even the apostles themselves) were not yet ready. Another reason was that, as St. Paul says, “none of the princes of this world knew [this], for had they known [it], they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (I Corinthians 2.8). This is confirmed by St. Ignatius the God-bearer, a disciple of St. John, who says that certain facts were concealed from the devil, such as the virginity of Mary[2], because, had he known them, he would not have stirred up the Jews to kill Christ and so bring about the salvation of the world. Moreover, we see from Acts that the earliest sermons of St. Peter and St. Stephen also did not emphasize the Divinity of Christ, but rather concentrated on His being the Messiah. One step at a time: for the Jews, it was necessary to demonstrate that Christ was the Messiah before going on (in private, perhaps) to the deeper mystery of His Divinity. St. Matthew, who wrote in Hebrew for the Jews, undoubtedly followed this method under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. And the same applies to Saints Mark and Luke, who, though not writing exclusively for the Jews, had to take the Jewish religious education of many of their readers into account. After the fall of Jerusalem, however, when the power of the Jews had been broken, and when Christian heretics such as Cerinthus arose, openly denying the Divinity of Christ, a more explicit affirmation of the mystery became necessary. And that was what St. John – who fled from a bath-house in which he was washing in order not to remain under the same roof as Cerinthus - provided in his writings.

 

     Now let us turn to the mystery of Mary, the Mother of God. As St. John of Damascus points out, the mystery of Mary is the mystery of the Incarnation, and the glory of Mary derives wholly from the glory of her being chosen to be the Mother of God.[3] All the titles and honour we ascribe to her do not add to, but express that original glory; they are a direct consequence of her being, in the words of St. Photius the Great, “the minister of the mystery”.[4] For only a being of surpassing holiness could have given her flesh to the All-Holy Word of God, becoming the new Eve, as Saints Justin and Irenaeus point out, to Christ’s new Adam.

 

     But just as the glory of Christ Himself was temporarily concealed for the sake of the more effective long-term propagation of the Gospel, so the glory of Mary was concealed – from the world, but not from the Church – until the time when it was safe to reveal it, that is, when idolatry had been destroyed and the dogmas of the Divinity of Christ and of the Mother of God had been defined in theologically precise terms. Until that time, however, such a revelation would have been dangerous, for in a world in which paganism was still strong, and female goddesses, as Bercot points out, were common, many would have seen Christ and His Mother as two gods – the Christian equivalent of Jupiter and Juno. And indeed, as Bercot again rightly points out on the basis of the writings of St. Epiphanius of Cyprus, in the fourth century there existed a heresy which consisted in the worship of the Mother of God and the offering of sacrifices to her. That is why the apostles and their successors preached to the truths of the faith to the pagan world in a definite order, with each successive stage beginning only when the previous stage was firmly established in the minds of their hearers. First came the teaching about God, then about the Incarnation of the Word and the Redemption through Christ; then about the Church and the sacraments; and then about the Mother of God.

 

     The Church displayed a similar reticence with regard to another of her cardinal doctrines – that of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist. When the Lord first expounded this mystery, many even of His disciples left Him (John 6.66). It is not surprising, therefore, that the Church should have refrained from preaching this doctrine from the roof-tops, and kept it even from the catechumens, or learners, until after they had actually partaken of the sacrament. And as with the Divinity of Christ, so with the sacraments, the Church’s teaching is only sketchily outlined in the Synoptic Evangelists, but more fully expounded later, in the Gospel of John. And it is only in the Gospel of John that we find certain events in which the Mother of God played a prominent part: the marriage in Cana, for example, or Christ’s entrusting the care of His Mother to John himself at the Cross.

 

     In all these cases, the Church’s early reticence was not the product of some kind of esotericism in the Gnostic sense, but a prudent desire to give her children the meat of the Word only after they have been strengthened on the milk, the rudiments of the Gospel. For to entrust people with the holy mysteries before they are ready for them is like giving pearls to “swine” – they will trample on them by interpreting them in their own swinish, carnal way. Thus the doctrine of the Mother of God, while always known to the Church, was not preached openly until the world had become solidly Christian.

 

     An illustration of the wisdom of this principle is found in the life of St. Dionysius the Areopagite, the disciple of St. Paul and first bishop of Athens. When he first met the Mother of God, as he confesses in a letter, he was so struck by her extraordinary, other-worldly beauty, that he was tempted to think that she was in fact a goddess. It was not until the apostles took him aside and explained that she was not herself Divine by nature, but the created Mother of the pre-eternal Creator, that he abandoned his error. If such a holy man as Dionysius was tempted to make such an error, we can imagine what would have been the consequences if the apostles had openly preached the Mother of God to the pagan world! And we see in modern Roman Catholic Mariolatry what happens to the understanding of Mary even among Christians when those Christians have lost the salt of the grace of God.

 

     If the Catholics have become like the pagan Greeks in their Mariolatry, the Protestants have embraced the opposite, Jewish error in refusing to see anything special in the Holy Virgin, even denying her holiness and virginity. To be fair to Bercot, he never descends to such blasphemy, and is willing to accept both her virginity and her exceptional blessedness. He does not even object to the term Theotokos, or Mother of God, although, revealingly, he never uses it himself.

 

     But Bercot displays a definite Protestant bias and superficiality in his interpretation of those passages in the Gospel in which Christ speaks to or about His Mother. In all these passages (Matthew 12.46-50; Luke 2.48-49, 8.19-21; John 2.4, 19.26-27), Bercot sees Christ as “putting down” His Mother, as if He needed to suppress an incipient rebellion on her part, an attempt to impose her will upon Him. Nothing could be further from the truth. Although the Orthodox do not believe in the absolute sinlessness of the Mother of God, at any rate before Pentecost, and admit that she may have had moments of doubt, hesitation or imperfect comprehension, there can be no question of any conflict between her and her Son. Christ was not so much rebuking His Mother in these passages, as teaching a general truth which the carnally and racially-minded Jews very much needed to absorb: the truth, namely, that closeness to God depends, not on racial affiliation, but on spiritual kinship. Moreover, when He said, “My Mother and My brethren are those who hear the word of God and keep it” (Luke 8.21), He was not excluding His physical Mother from the category of those close to Him. On the contrary, it was precisely because she, more than anyone, knew the word of God and kept it, thereby acquiring spiritual kinship with God, that Mary was counted worthy to give birth to God in the flesh.

 

     That is also why Christ entrusted the Holy Virgin to St. John at the foot of the Cross. This was actually a very surprising thing for the Lord to do, for the Virgin did have a family – the sons of Joseph referred to above – and the normal custom in the East would have been for them to take her into their care. But here again, as often in the Gospel, the Lord indicates that spiritual kinship, kinship in the Church, is higher and deeper than kinship after the flesh or in law.

 

     Bercot makes another error of interpretation when he says that Mary was not one of the first witnesses of the Resurrection. The oral tradition of the Church, confirmed in the writings of St. Gregory Palamas[5], affirms that Mary was in fact the very first person to see the Risen Christ, being none other than the person whom the Evangelists call “Mary, the mother of James and Joses” (Matthew 27.56) and “the other Mary” (Matthew 27.81, 28.1). For the sons of Joseph, the Betrothed of Mary, were James, the first bishop of Jerusalem, Simon, the second bishop of Jerusalem, Jude, one of the twelve apostles, and Joses; which meant that Mary was in law, if not by blood, their mother, “the mother of James and Joses”. St. Matthew conceals her identity in this way for the same reason that the inner greatness Mother of God is concealed throughout the first centuries of the Christian preaching: because it was dangerous to reveal her great glory and pre-eminent closeness to Christ before the doctrine of Christ Himself, perfect God and perfect Man, had been firmly established in the world through the Ecumenical Councils. Moreover, if it had been said that the first witness of Christ’s Resurrection had been His Mother, the Jews would have seized on this to pour scorn on the fact, saying: “What trust can we place in the visions of an hysterical woman, crazed with grief over the death of her only son?”

 

     Bercot is again wrong in asserting that the Lord was rebuking Mary at the marriage of Cana, when He said: “Woman, what have I to do with thee?” (John 2.4). If Mary was really sinning by asking the Lord to intercede for the married couple, why did He then fulfil her request and change the water into wine? According to St. Gaudentius of Breschia, the Lord was not rebuking the Virgin, but drawing her mind forward to the mystery of the Cross: “This answer of His does not seem to me to accord with Mary’s suggestion, if we take it literally in its first apparent sense, and do not suppose our Lord to have spoken in a mystery, meaning thereby that the wine of the Holy Spirit could not be given to the Gentiles before His Passion and Resurrection, as the Evangelist attests: ‘As yet the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified’ (John 7.39). With reason, then, at the beginning of His miracles, did He thus answer His Mother, as though He said: ‘Why this thy hasty suggestion, O Woman? Since the hour of My Passion and Resurrection is not yet come, when, - all powers whether of teaching or of divine operations being then completed – I have determined to die for the life of believers. After My Passion and Resurrection, when I shall return to My Father, there shall be given to them the wine of the Holy Spirit.’ Whereupon she too, that most blessed one, knowing the profound mystery of this answer, understood that the suggestion she had just made was not slighted or spurned, but, in accordance with that spiritual reason, was for a time delayed. Otherwise, she would never have said to the waiters, Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it.[6]

    

     Bercot displays a similar obtuseness when discussing the fact that Mary was not present at the Last Supper. Since the Passover meal was a family occasion, he says, Mary’s absence shows that the Lord was “putting her in her place” and placing his bonds with the apostles above all carnal bonds. Well, it is true, as we have seen, that the Lord often emphasizes the superiority of spiritual bonds to carnal ones. But Mary was most closely related to Him, as has already been said, both spiritually and by blood.

 

     In any case, the Last Supper did not require the presence of Mary for a quite different reason. At this Supper the Lord introduced the fundamental sacrament of the New Testament Church, the Eucharist, and Himself performed the sacrament as the eternal High Priest of the New Testament, being a priest not after the order of Levi, but of Melchizedek. He as the Priest offered Himself as the Victim to Himself and the Father and the Holy Spirit as the Receivers of the Sacrifice. And He wished the apostles to be present because they also were to be priests according to this new and higher order, and would themselves offer the same Sacrifice of Christ’s Body and Blood, saying: “Thine own of Thine own we offer unto Thee…” But Mary, being a woman, was not and could not be a priest.

 

     Not that Mary’s ministry was any less important than the apostles’. On the contrary: without the ministry of the Virgin at the Incarnation neither Christ’s ministry at the Cross and Resurrection, nor that of the apostles after Pentecost, would have been possible. For if the apostles, through the priestly gift bestowed on them, multiplied the Church to the ends of the earth, the Virgin, having given birth to the High Priest Himself, and having been made the Mother of His closest disciple at the Cross, may be said to have given birth to the Church as a whole, to be the Mother of the Body of which He is the Head to all generations. Indeed, in a deeper sense the Virgin is not only the Mother of the Church but the Church herself; for if Christ is the New Adam and the Head of the Church, and Mary is the New Eve and “flesh of His flesh”, then through the mystery of marriage the Virgin (i.e. the New Eve or the Church) is the Body and Bride of Christ…

 

     It is in the context of this mystical relationship between Christ and the Holy Virgin that we must understand the extraordinary epithets that the Church bestows on her, such as mediatress and Queen of Heaven.

 

     At this point, however, it is important to distinguish the Orthodox position from that of the Roman Catholics and from that of certain Orthodox who have been infected by the Romanist point of view. Contrary to the Romanist teaching, the Holy Virgin was conceived in original sin, and therefore was as much in need of salvation as any other mortal. Moreover, as St. John Chrysostom says, it is possible that she committed some actual sins, although these could only have been minor ones resulting from her less that perfect knowledge of the ministry of her Son before she received complete enlightenment at Pentecost. The salvation of the world was effected by Christ alone, the only Mediator between God and man, for He alone is both God and man. At the same time, Christ could not have become man without the cooperation of a human being who was both humble enough to receive the Word of God into her flesh without being destroyed by Him, and believing enough to consent to the mystery without doubting: “Be it unto me according to they word” (Luke 1.38). For, as Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow says, “In the days of the creation of the world, when God was uttering His living and mighty ‘Let there be’, the word of the Creator brought creatures into the world. But on that day, unparalleled in the life of the world, when divine Miriam uttered her brief and obedient: ‘Be it unto me’, I hardly dare to say what happened then – the word of the creature brought the Creator into the world.” In this sense, the Virgin, too, can be called a mediatress insofar as she mediated our salvation. To say, as Bercot does, that Christ could have effected the salvation of the world in some other way if the Virgin had refused is to indulge in idle hypothesizing which illumines nothing. For the fact is that the Virgin did not refuse and God did not choose another person or another method.

 

     Now, having entered into such an extraordinarily intimate union with God, and with such enormous consequences for the whole of created being, who can doubt that the Virgin has become deified, “a partaker of the Divine nature”, as St. Peter puts it (II Peter 1.4), “on the border between the created and uncreated natures”, as St. Gregory Palamas puts it?[7] And, this being so, who can doubt that all her petitions are granted by God, that her “mediation” before God, in the sense of intercession for mankind, is always heard? It is not that what she demands she always gets, as the Romanists blasphemously say; for that would imply that the creature can dictate to the Creator, the pot to the Potter. No: the Virgin is always heard by God because, being in complete harmony with His will, she never asks for anything that is contrary to His will. Like the perfect wife, she both knows the will of her Husband and wills it herself, so that she neither compels Him nor is herself compelled by Him “Whose service is perfect freedom”. For “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (II Corinthians 3.17).

 

     Where there is such perfect spiritual union and freedom, the distinctions between Master and servant, even Creator and creature, become, if not less real than before, at any rate less prominent. The Protestants are very jealous to preserve God’s rights and sovereignty; but they forget that God Himself “emptied Himself” of His Divine rights, and became a servant to His own creatures, so that they should acquire His rights and privileges. As the Fathers say: “God became man, so that men should become gods.” And the word “gods” means what it says – the saints truly become gods by grace: “I said: ye are gods, and all of your sons of the Most High” (Psalm 81.6; John 10.34). For if the Holy Scripture calls Christians now, before they have become completely freed from sin, “brothers” and “friends” and “sons of God”, of what great “weight of glory” will they not be accounted worthy when they are completely freed from sin, in the life of the age to come? And if this is true of all the saints, how can it be denied of the Virgin Mother of God, she who even at the beginning of her ministry was already “full of grace”, and who by offering herself as “the minister of the mystery” made it possible for all men to become gods? And if, as St. Paul says, the saints shall judge angels (I Corinthians 6.3), how can it be hyperbole to say that she, the mother of all the saints in the spiritual sense, is “more honourable than the Cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim”? Indeed, if Christ, the New Adam, is the King of Heaven, how can she, the New Eve, be denied her rightful side at His side as the Queen of Heaven? For it is of her that the Prophet David spoke: “At Thy right hand stood the queen, arrayed in a vesture of inwoven gold, adorned in varied colours” (Psalm 45.8).

 

     The mystery of Mary is the mystery of the deification of man. The path she traversed from humility on earth to glory in the heavens is the path that all Christians hope to traverse. And while it was God’s will that she should remain in the background until the ministry of her Son should be completed and firmly established in the world through the teaching of the Fathers, so it is God’s will now that her glory should be revealed and all generations call her blessed (Luke 1.48); that all men should see the hope that is set before them and strive for it with redoubled zeal. And to that end God has bestowed on her the grace of miracles and the fulfillment of all the godly petitions that men address to her, as is witnessed by thousands upon thousands of Christians in all countries and generations. Only the blindest bigot could deny all these witnesses, or ascribe them all to the workings of Satan. Or rather, only one who is blind to the true depth of the mystery of which she was the minister, would seek to detract from the glory of the Virgin...

 

     Let me end, then, with two witnesses to her veneration from the Early, Pre-Nicene Church. First, a hymn found in an Egyptian papyrus dating to about 250 AD and still used in the Orthodox Church today: “Under thy tender mercy we run, O Virgin Birth-Giver of God. Despise not our prayers in our troubles, but deliver us from danger, O only pure, O only blessed one!”[8]

 

     And secondly, the witness of St. Gregory the Wonderworker: “Thy praise, O most holy Virgin, surpasses all laudation, by reason of the God Who took flesh and was born of three. To thee every creature, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth, offers the meet offering of honour. For thou has indeed been shown forth to be the true cherubic throne, thou shinest as the very brightness of light in the high places of the kingdoms of intelligence, where the Father, Who is without beginning, and Whose power thou hadst overshadowing thee, is glorified; where also the Son is worshipped, Whom thou didst bear according to the flesh; and where the Holy Spirit is praised, Who effected in thy womb the generation of the Mighty King. Though thee, O thou who art full of grace, is the Holy and Consubstantial Trinity known in the world. Together with thyself deem us also worthy to be made partakers of thy perfect grace in Jesus Christ, our Lord, with Whom and with the Holy Spirit, be glory to the Father, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.”[9]

 

(Published in Living Orthodoxy, May-June, 1996, pp. 8-14; revised June 18 / July 1, 2004, March 9/22, 2008, May 13/26, 2010 and September 26 / October 9, 2014)



[1] Louth, Greek East and Latin West, Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2007, p. 198.

[2] St. Ignatius, Epistle to the Ephesisans, 19, 1.

[3] St. John of Damascus, First Homily on the Dormition, 12.

[4] St. Photius the Great, Homily on the Nativity of the Virgin.

[5] St. Gregory Palamas, Homily 18, on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers.

[6] St. Gaudentius, Sermon 9; P.L. 20, p. 900; in Thomas Livius, The Blessed Virgin in the Fathers of the First Six Centuries, London: Burns & Oates, 1893, p. 173. And in another place the same saint says that Christ, “after the hour of His Passion, so far consummated the reality of the mystery which had gone before that the water of the Incarnation became the wine of the Divinity.” (Sermon 19; P.L. 20, p. 990; Livius, op. cit., p. 174).

[7] St. Gregory Palamas, Homily 14, on the Annunciation, 15.

[8]ПапируссмолитвойкоПресвятойБогородице 250 г.н.э.”, September 22, 2014,  http://blagomissia.livejournal.com/42349.html.

[9] St. Gregory the Wonderworker, Homily 3, On the Annunciation.

 

 

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