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Theotokos

(Gr. theotokos, “God-bearer”). A title of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Favored by the Alexandrian School of theologians from the time of Origen* onward, this title helped to preserve for them the “Word-flesh” Christology. In the fifth century it was attacked by Nestorius who, wanting to emphasize the humanity of Jesus, proposed the compromise titles Christotokos (“Christ-bearer”) or even Theodochos (“God- receiving”). Theotokos, however, had the militant support of Cyril* of Alexandria in his Paschal Letter of 429, and it was approved by the councils of Ephesus* (431) and Chalcedon* (451). The usual Latin equivalent was Dei Genetrix (“Mother of God”), not the literal Deipara.

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